Waterloo Region’s New Sewer Regulations Tighten Contaminant Limits
WATERLOO REGION – A new regional bylaw regulating wastewater will better protect the Grand River by establishing tighter controls over what can go down the drain.
This is the first time in more than 30 years that the regulation on the use of sewers has been updated. The current regulations were adopted in 1990 and have only undergone a few minor changes since then.
The current regulations “have worked for the past 30 years, but it was time to review them”, and also an opportunity to bring them into line with the new standards set out in a model regulation of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, said Michael Gordon, the regional environmental law enforcement supervisor.
The new regulations “offer enhanced protection” to the region’s waterways and its treatment plants, he said.
The new regulations tighten the limits for heavy metals and contaminants such as PCBs which are toxic and can bioaccumulate in the food chain. The lower limits better protect water bodies, such as the Grand, which receive treated effluents from wastewater treatment plants
It also gives the region more powers to enforce the bylaw, issuing tickets for things like failing to report a spill or blocking a sewer; and issue orders to stop an illegal release. Fines for illegal discharges would increase dramatically: first-offense fines for corporations would double to $ 50,000, while fines for individuals would increase from $ 5,000 to $ 50,000.
The only option for enforcement in the current regulations is to prosecute an offender.
The new regulations also increase the fees for permits that allow industries to discharge excess amounts of substances that wastewater treatment plants can handle. The fees would better reflect the costs of monitoring and enforcement, going from $ 25 to about $ 1,700, plus the costs of treating excess releases.
The new regulation would be similar to the regulations in the regions of Halton, Peel, York and Niagara.
Council reviews the new regulation on June 30. If approved, it would come into effect next January.