This consultation was open from:
August 31, 2023
to October 30, 2023
Ontario is proposing:
- a new regulation to allow some stormwater management works to be registered on the EASR
- to exempt some residential stormwater management works
- to create smarter and more efficient environmental permissions processes that reduce unnecessary burden to support housing and build critical infrastructure.
On this page
Ontario is working to create smarter and more efficient environmental permissions processes that will support infrastructure development and help protect human health and the environment.
What we’re proposing
Stormwater is water from precipitation such as rain and snowfall that runs off or infiltrates into the ground. Uncontrolled run-off in developed areas, where the ground is covered with impervious surfaces such as pavement and buildings that limit infiltration into the ground, can carry contaminants and nutrients that impact water quality. Stormwater run-off must be managed effectively to minimize any negative impacts on the quality of our waterways and groundwater, including drinking water sources. Good management of stormwater is an important part of ensuring Ontario has clean water for drinking, manufacturing products and recreational activities now and into the future.
We are proposing:
- A new regulation under the Environmental Protection Act, to allow owners of certain stormwater management works to self-register on the Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (EASR).
- To amend Ontario Regulation 525/98 under the Ontario Water Resources Act, to exempt some stormwater management works in residential areas from approval requirements.
- To amend Ontario Regulation 287/07, made under the Clean Water Act, 2006, by removing the need for, limiting, or restricting the types of policies to be included in source protection plans where a significant drinking water threat is being managed through registration on the EASR, and to allow for amendments to existing source protection plans without following the usual process.
The proposed changes will reduce regulatory burden while ensuring that human health and the environment are protected.
New regulation made under the Environmental Protection Act
Activities that are eligible for registration on the EASR must follow rules in regulation and as such, would not require an Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA). This means that registrants would not have to wait up to a year for a ministry review but instead, can proceed with the activity immediately after self-registration.
The new regulation would streamline approvals and allow self-registration for eligible stormwater management works servicing the following types of activities:
- light industrial
- multi-unit residential
Protecting the environment
Environmental protections will be maintained through strict design, operation, and maintenance requirements. All stormwater management works will be subject to a site-specific technical assessment performed by a licensed engineering practitioner (LEP), including assessing whether the works are identified as a significant drinking water threat in a source protection plan.
Owners of stormwater management works that are eligible to self-register on the EASR would need to meet rigorous requirements and follow existing ministry standards, guidance, and limits. If the works are a significant drinking water threat, the LEP would be required to consider additional management measures.
If this proposal is implemented, the ministry will continue to audit the registry and inspect these stormwater management works as needed to enforce compliance with the rules in our new regulation.
Who can register?
We are proposing the following eligibility criteria to register stormwater management works on the EASR:
- The stormwater management works must be privately owned. They may not be owned or to be assumed by a municipality as these works are already captured under a streamlined consolidated linear infrastructure (CLI) approval
- The stormwater management works must service only the following types of sites:
- institutional, commercial, or light industrial sites, where:
- any processing, repair or maintenance activities is being conducted indoors
- any outdoor handling or storage of soil, raw material, intermediate, finished or by-products is contained in a manner to restrict contact with stormwater
- multi-unit residential sites discharging to combined sewers or the natural environment.
- institutional, commercial, or light industrial sites, where:
Note that many of the criteria listed above are in place to separate out the activities that are eligible to be registered on the EASR, compared with activities that are exempt.
See the discussion paper that is attached to the Supporting Materials section of this notice for the list of activities that are not eligible, and examples of activities that may be eligible.
The proposal contains strict design, operation, and maintenance requirements to ensure that self-registrants have measures in place to protect the environment. The LEP must design the stormwater management works to achieve strict effluent limits and prepare the following documents to be followed and maintained at the site:
- design report
- operations and maintenance manual
- spill contingency plan (as applicable)
- erosion and sediment control plan (as applicable)
See our discussion paper attached to the Supporting Materials section of this notice for further details.
Proposed amendments to Ontario Regulation 525/98 made under the Ontario Water Resources Act
In March 2022, the ministry posted notice on the Environmental Registry of the decision to remove the need to obtain an Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) for certain low risk sewage works including:
- low impact development works located on residential properties.
- foundation drainage works
- ultraviolet treatment to control zebra and quagga mussels in water pipes
- sewage works related to construction site dewatering
We are proposing to expand on the exemptions in Ontario Regulation 525/98 for low impact development (LID) works. LID is a stormwater management strategy that seeks to mitigate the impacts of increased runoffs by managing runoff close to the source. Examples of LIDs include:
- infiltration trenches
- permeable pavements
- rain gardens
These stormwater management activities that service small areas and infiltrate into the ground pose little to no environmental risk.
The ministry would maintain the authority to inspect the stormwater management works for compliance with all legislative and regulatory requirements to ensure that the works do not pose a negative environmental impact.
We are also proposing to add exemptions for drainage works for roadways and railways, including railway projects by Metrolinx that are not already captured under the Ontario Water Resources Act.
Proposed amendments to Ontario regulation 287/07 made under the Clean Water Act, 2006
The ministry considered how risks to sources of drinking water could be managed under an EASR framework and determined that risks can be addressed by the rules proposed in the new EASR regulation.
Under the proposed regulation, proponents would be required to identify whether the activity is a significant drinking water threat. If the activity is a significant drinking water threat, the LEP would be required to consider additional design measures and may need to consider other requirements, such as a monitoring plan. Prohibitions in source protection plans on the establishment of stormwater management works that are significant threats would be maintained as part of the proposed EASR regulation.
For further details on the proposed approach to continue to protect sources of drinking water, please see the discussion paper that is attached in the Supporting Materials section of this notice.
We are proposing to amend Ontario Regulation 287/07 General, made under the Clean Water Act, 2006 by removing the need for, limiting, or restricting the types of policies to be included in source protection plans where a significant drinking water threat is being managed through an EASR registration or prohibition.
We also propose to amend the regulation to allow for amendments to be made to source protection plans without undergoing the existing amendment processes where the amendment is to remove policies that are no longer operative. For example, prescribed instrument policies may no longer be necessary because significant drinking water threats would be managed by the stormwater management regulation on the EASR rather than through a prescribed instrument. This would reduce duplicative requirements while ensuring the ongoing protection of sources of drinking water.
Stormwater is included in the definition of Sewage under the Ontario Water Resources Act. Sewage works in Ontario are governed by the Ontario Water Resources Act (OWRA) and the Environmental Protection Act (EPA). With some exceptions, an ECA is required under the OWRA to establish or operate sewage works.
Ontario Regulation 525/98 - Approval Exemptions exempts certain sewage works including stormwater management works from requiring an ECA. The ministry retains its ability to inspect exempt sewage works and ensure that they are complying with all relevant environmental standards and requirements and continue to meet the requirements for being exempted.
There is currently no EASR self-registration for stormwater management works.
Public consultation opportunities
This proposal has been posted for a 60-day public review and comment period. We encourage interested parties to make comments on this proposal. Comments made on this proposal and discussion paper will be considered before finalizing the regulation.
Regulatory impact assessment
This proposal is expected to reduce burden on the regulated community and reduce regulatory red tape for sectors such as:
- industrial operations
The amendments would remove the requirement to obtain an ECA for certain stormwater management works. This would reduce time, cost and resources that businesses and communities spend on seeking environmental permissions from the ministry.
The proposal would allow businesses to begin operations and infrastructure projects faster, which is beneficial for the community. The changes also reduce burden for housing and infrastructure projects which:
- supports efforts to create much needed housing supply in Ontario,
- boosts the province’s economy
- supports job creation
We are working to develop a Regulatory Impact Assessment to determine potential costs or estimated savings related to this proposal.
Please see the discussion paper attached in the Supporting Materials section of this notice for specific questions about cost considerations.
View materials in person
Some supporting materials may not be available online. If this is the case, you can request to view the materials in person.
Get in touch with the office listed below to find out if materials are available.
135 St. Clair Avenue West
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