Proposed changes to environmental approvals for municipal sewage collection works

ERO number
019-1080
Notice type
Policy
Act
Ontario Water Resources Act, R.S.O. 1990
Posted by
Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Notice stage
Proposal
Proposal posted
Comment period
July 8, 2020 - September 6, 2020 (60 days) Closed
Last updated

There is no requirement to post this notice on the Environmental Registry of Ontario, but we want to hear your thoughts. Submit a comment and tell us what you think. Learn about the consultation process and types of notices on the registry.

This consultation was open from:

July 8, 2020
to September 6, 2020

Proposal summary

We are proposing to modernize Ontario’s environmental approval process for low-risk municipal sewage works by implementing a Consolidated Linear Infrastructure Permissions Approach. The proposed approach will consolidate and update the approvals process for these types of works and incorporates measures that will enhance environmental protection.

Why consultation isn't required

This posting is about a proposal to modernize Ontario’s environmental approval process for low-risk municipal sewage works by implementing a Consolidated Linear Infrastructure Permissions Approach that will consolidate and update the approvals process for these types of works. No changes to legislation are being proposed, and the changes are administrative.

Proposal details

Current requirements for sewage works in Ontario

In Ontario, Section 53 of the Ontario Water Resources Act (OWRA) requires municipalities and developers to obtain an Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) to establish, alter, extend or replace sewage works.

Currently we receive over 700 sewage applications each year from municipalities and developers. Many of these applications support new housing and commercial developments. Municipalities and developers spend significant time and money preparing and submitting individual ECAs for these non complex, routine alterations that make up a part of the municipality’s sanitary collection and stormwater works.

We have issued thousands of individual approvals to municipalities and developers for routine, low-risk municipal sanitary collection and stormwater works (e.g. sewers, forcemains) since the OWRA came into effect. Many of these approvals are now out of date, and this pipe-by-pipe, piecemeal approach does not allow for a holistic view of a municipality’s wastewater and stormwater systems.

Proposed Consolidated Linear Infrastructure Permissions Approach

We are proposing to implement a Consolidated Linear Infrastructure Permissions Approach that has been modeled after the existing permissions framework for municipal drinking water systems, which was established in 2009. The proposed approach uses a risk-based framework to improve:

  • service delivery
  • public transparency

It will enhance environmental protection by establishing a more holistic picture of where sewage works are located across the province which in turn will inform and support effective environmental policy and planning decisions.

ECA requirements will also be updated to current standards, which will provide clear and consistent expectations for municipalities and developers.

The purpose of Consolidated Linear Infrastructure Permissions Approach is to:

  • reduce regulatory burden for municipalities and developers by streamlining the approval process by replacing existing individual pipe by pipe ECAs with one multi-media ECA for a municipality’s wastewater sewage collection system and one multi-media ECA for a municipality’s stormwater collection, treatment and disposal system
  • provide clear, transparent and consistent requirements through the new design criteria and conditions in the new ECAs that municipalities and developers can follow for future sewage work
  • improve environmental protection and ensure quality and consistency of new sewage works through updating ECA terms and conditions to current standards
  • consolidate and update ECA terms and conditions that will apply to each municipality’s sewage collection system
  • consolidate the ECAs for existing linear infrastructure to establish a holistic picture of all routine works owned by a municipality

Core components of the proposed approach

Under the proposed approach we will incorporate all existing and future approvals into one new consolidated ECA for municipal sanitary collection systems and one new consolidated ECA for stormwater management works with pre-authorizations. The core components of the proposed approach are:

  1. Regulation 208/19 - Environmental Compliance Approval Regulation In Respect Of Sewage Works Regulation:

    This regulation came into force in July 2019. It enables developers to make alterations to a municipality’s sewage system without a separate approval, if specific conditions are met.

  2. New design criteria for linear infrastructure sanitary and some storm management collection systems:

    The design criteria incorporates the existing 2008 design guidelines for linear infrastructure for sanitary and some types of storm collection systems. It includes criteria around the diameter, material, cover of sewer pipes, flow rates and velocities, new monitoring and reporting requirements for combined sewer overflows and bypasses.

    The design criteria will be referred to in conditions of the future Consolidated Linear Infrastructure ECAs. Municipalities and developers will need to comply with the design criteria to meet the pre-authorization conditions of the Consolidated Linear Infrastructure ECAs.

  3. New Consolidated Linear Infrastructure ECA templates:

    These templates will provide clear and consistent design and operation requirements that every municipality and developer would need to meet. The templates will provide clear expectations for municipalities, developers and MECP compliance officers.

Under the proposed approach, municipalities would need to prepare and submit to the ministry applications for consolidated linear infrastructure ECAs that will include a description of all existing sanitary collection and stormwater works within their municipal boundaries that they own.

We anticipate that existing documentation can be used for the application but would like to hear feedback from municipalities as part of this consultation. We will work with municipalities so they can provide sufficient information, in situations where they do not have an inventory of existing works immediately available at the time of application, or that may require additional time to prepare the information.

Once issued, the consolidated linear infrastructure ECAs would effectively replace the numerous ECAs that had been previously issued to a municipality for its sanitary collection and stormwater works.

The new consolidated linear infrastructure ECAs will:

  • incorporate all the requirements for a municipality’s entire sanitary collection system and stormwater management works
  • include updated conditions that will pre-authorize municipalities and prescribed persons (e.g. developers) to make future specified alterations in accordance with the proposed new design criteria
  • include other updated conditions to improve environmental protection and ensure quality and consistency in new construction

Under the proposed approach, a municipality will no longer need to submit individual pipe by pipe ECAs for future alterations provided that the future alterations are built in accordance with new design criteria and all other ECA conditions. Also, under certain circumstances, and only with municipal approval, other persons such as developers may be able to construct works under the municipality’s consolidated linear infrastructure ECA. This will eliminate the need for developers to prepare and submit individual ECAs for sewage works that eventually will be owned by the municipality.

The proposed Consolidated Linear Infrastructure Permissions Approach will:

  • save municipalities and developers time and money
  • allow our ministry to focus our resources on activities which pose the greatest risk to human health and the environment.
  • enhance environmental protection by providing a greater understanding of where sewage works are located across the province which, in turn, will inform and support effective environmental policy and planning decisions at both the municipal and provincial level
  • also ensure consistency as the same permission process and design standards would apply to all municipalities in Ontario

Opportunities to provide input

We encourage interested parties to make comments on the proposal, including the attached documents which provide greater detail on the proposed approach:

  • question and answer document, with requests for stakeholder feedback on specific aspects of the approach
  • new Consolidated Linear Infrastructure ECA templates
  • new design criteria

The information we gather through this consultation process will inform any final decision making with respect to the proposal, including implementation timing.

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Important notice: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, viewing supporting materials in person is not available at this time.

Please reach out to the Contact listed in this notice to see if alternate arrangements can be made.

Comment

Commenting is now closed.

The comment period was from July 8, 2020
to September 6, 2020

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