Ministry of Environment

Municipal Liquid Waste

In order to discharge liquid waste, discharges must be authorized by a Liquid Waste Management Plan approved by the minister or be registered under the Municipal Wastewater Regulation. The Municipal Wastewater Regulation (MWR) establishes an exemption for dischargers from having to obtain a permit, provided they meet certain conditions; namely, the discharge is registered and ongoing compliance with the regulation is demonstrated.

On this Site:

Liquid Waste Management Planning describes B.C.'s liquid waste management planning process and provides guidance to local governments seeking an approved plan.

Municipal Wastewater Regulation provides guidance on meeting the current standards and requirements for the treatment, reuse and disposal of sewage.

Organic Matter Recycling Regulation sets the standards for the beneficial re-use of composted organic matter including biosolids.

Related Links:

On-site Sewage Disposal - Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport Planning's Septic System Program website.

Canada-wide Strategy for Municipal Wastewater Effluent 
Since 2007, the BC Ministry of Environment has been involved in the development of a Canada-wide strategy for the management of municipal wastewater effluent through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME).  The result is the Municipal Waste Water Effluent (MWWE) Strategy, which was endorsed by the CCME in February 2009. 

The CCME Strategy is designed to provide a harmonized framework to manage municipal wastewater discharges across Canada through standards that will protect human health and the environment. The standards set a minimum of secondary treatment, or equivalent water quality, for municipal wastewater treatment plants across Canada that discharge to surface waters.   

Implementation of the Federal Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations in British Columbia
On July 18, 2012, Environment Canada announced the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations (WSER), made under the federal Fisheries Act. Following the announcement, Canada and British Columbia signed an agreement to collaborate on the management of wastewater.

The collaboration agreement recognises the benefits of a cooperative approach to wastewater management in BC. The desired outcome of the collaboration agreement is to reach an equivalency agreement on the federal Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations.

An equivalency agreement would see the federal regulation stand down in British Columbia as long as the provincial regulatory framework is deemed to be “equivalent-in-effect” to the federal regulation.

Negotiations with Environment Canada on an equivalency agreement commenced in early September, 2012 and are currently ongoing.

Provincial wastewater authorisation tools, including the Municipal Wastewater Regulation (released April 2012), may require amendments to satisfy the requirements of federal law and the terms of an equivalency agreement. The extent of any amendments will be determined through the negotiation process. The province will make every effort possible to work with Environment Canada to minimize the impact to regulated parties in BC.

Until such time that an equivalency agreement is in place, regulated parties must continue to adhere to all applicable provincial and federal wastewater legislation. Special attention should be given to the timelines identified in WSER.

BC looks forward to continued discussions with Environment Canada on the development of an equivalency agreement.

For further information on WSER, please contact Environment Canada.

For provincial inquiries on this matter, please contact Justin Sabourin, Environmental Management Officer, Environmental Protection Division.