Temporary bypass authorizations
This is an unofficial document intended to summarize the proposed amendments to the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations. The Regulations Amending the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations are the official proposed amendments. Any inconsistencies with this document and the proposed regulations, the proposed regulations prevail. It does not replace or in any way supersede or modify the current Regulations or the Fisheries Act. It also does not offer any legal interpretation of the Regulations or Act.
Temporary bypass authorizations (TBAs) allow the owner or operator (regulatee) to bypass one or more treatment processes for a period of time. This could result in exceeding effluent limits temporarily. TBAs may be issued in the following circumstances:
- For necessary construction or maintenance work; or
- For anticipated events out of control of the regulatee (for example planned power outage).
Currently, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) can only authorize a temporary bypass from the final discharge point. This is the pipe at the end of the wastewater treatment plant. Additional information on the current process to apply for a temporary bypass authorization is available online.
The proposed amendments would allow ECCC to authorize TBAs at points other than the final discharge point, including the sewers. They would also create new requirements for TBAs.
The proposed approach is based on risk. A more rigorous review is proposed for higher risk releases and a streamlined review for lower risk releases. Proposed bypasses would fall into one of 3 categories, depending on:
- the level of treatment
- volume of effluent to be released; and
- the duration of the bypass
The proposed approach would also consider sensitive receiving environments such as:
- shellfish harvesting areas; and
- protected habitats for aquatic species
This factsheet outlines the changes to the TBA provisions in Subsections 43 to 47 of the proposed amended Regulations.
How to determine the bypass level of risk for an application
There are 3 proposed methods that would determine which of the following categories the bypass falls into:
- Streamlined Process (category 1, low risk)
- Standard Process (category 2, medium risk)
- Enhanced Process (category 3, high risk)
These proposed methods assess the risk of a bypass based on:
- level of wastewater treatment
- volume of effluent released
- whether releases are dependent on precipitation; and
- time needed to complete the work
This approach also considers sensitive receiving environments. Each method outlines the characteristics of the proposed bypass and the category it falls into.
Method 1: Wastewater effluent receives physical treatment and/or biological treatment
Wastewater undergoes treatment for organic matter and suspended solids removal, such as aerated lagoons, clarifiers, etc.
Long description for Figure 1
Is the volume greater than 500,000 m3 OR is the duration greater than 90 days? If yes, does it meet the sensitive receiving environment criteria? If yes, it’s a category 3, if no, it’s a category 2.
Is the volume less than 25,000 m3 AND the duration is less than 10 days? If yes, does the receiving environment regularly receive wastewater? If yes, it’s a category 1, if no, it’s a category 2.
All other bypass volumes and durations are a category 2.
Method 2: Wastewater effluent receives no treatment or preliminary treatment
Wastewater receives no treatment or only undergoes removal of large solids, such as screens and grinders.
Long description for Figure 2
Is the volume greater than 50,000 m3 OR is the duration greater than 30 days? OR does it have a sensitive receiving environment AND have a volume > 25,000 m3 OR duration > 15 days? If yes, it’s a category 3. If no, it’s a category 2.
Is the volume less than 2,500 m3 OR is the duration less than 2 days? If yes, does the receiving environment regularly receive wastewater? If yes, it’s a category 1. If no, it’s a category 2.
All other bypass volumes and durations are a category 2.
Method 3: Wastewater effluent released during bypass is due to reduced treatment capacity caused by precipitation events
An example of this case is when the work performed will reduce the capacity of the system. In normal dry weather conditions, the system should treat all the wastewater. However, in the case of a rain event, the system may need to bypass due to reduced capacity. The bypass that may happen due to reduced capacity would fall under this method.
Long description for Figure 3
Is the volume greater than 100,000 m3 OR is the work duration greater than 60 days? If yes, does it meet the sensitive receiving environment criteria? If yes, it’s a category 3. If no, it’s a category 2.
Is the volume less than 5,000 m3 OR is the work duration less than 4 days. If yes, does the receiving environment regularly receive wastewater? If yes, it’s a category 1. If no, it’s a category 2.
All other bypass volumes are durations are a category 2.
Criteria for Sensitive Receiving Environment
Special receiving environment sensitivity criteria could trigger an enhanced review (category 3).
Shellfish Harvesting Area - A shellfish harvesting area is within 1,500 m of the bypass location
Shellfish Harvesting Area Classification in Canada.
Critical Habitat - An identified critical habitat for protected aquatic species is within 500 m of the bypass location
Critical Habitat in Canada: Critical Habitat of Species at Risk Map
*You can combine this URL link with the link above to view the data together
Proposed requirements for temporary bypass authorization
To be eligible to receive a TBA, you would have to meet specific requirements based on the level of risk (category). Proposed requirements vary depending on whether the bypass falls into the streamlined process (category 1), standard process (category 2) or enhanced process (category 3).
Before submitting a temporary bypass authorization application, a regulatee would be required to:
- Notify the Shellfish Water Classification Program of the proposed bypass if they will release effluent into:
- open marine waters
- marine port waters
- a shellfish harvesting area; or
- within a radius of 20 km of such waters
- Notify the public, and any community or Indigenous governing body of the proposed bypass if:
- they could be affected by the bypass, or may use the receiving environment before, during or after the bypass
Requirements for the Temporary Bypass Authorization Application:
Each bypass category has specific conditions that a regulatee must meet based on the level of risk (section 44):
Streamlined Process (Category 1)
21 days of notification
Streamlined process/low risk
- Provide bypass information
- Develop a list of measures to be taken to reduce environmental impacts
- Notify nearby communities
- Provide follow-up report
Regulatee must submit application at least 21 days before proposed bypass.
The following information must be provided in the application:
- Information about the planned bypass:
- The start and end date
- A description of the treatment, if any, applied to the effluent before discharge
- Whether precipitations will cause the bypass
- The approximate duration (in hours)
- The estimated volume (in m3) of the deposit and how the regulatee estimated the volume, if applicable
- Measures that the regulatee will use (including timing proposed work) to minimize negative effects of the bypass on:
- Fish habitat
- The use of fish by persons
- A follow-up report to ECCC
- A description and results of the notifications and engagements (if any) with those that the bypass may impact including:
- members of the public
- communities, or
- Indigenous governing body
Standard Process (Category 2)
45 days of notification
Standard process / medium risk
- Include information required for Category 1
- Expand on list of measures taken to reduce environmental impacts and provide more details
- Declare that a plan exists to reduce large, untreated bypasses in the future, if required
Regulatee must submit application at least 45 days before proposed bypass.
Regulatees must include all information required for Category 1. In addition, the following information is required in the application:
- A detailed description of measures the regulatee will use to avoid or lessen the negative effects of the bypass on:
- fish habitat
- the use of fish by persons
- For untreated releases, a declaration that a prevention plan is available to the public. This would describe the changes needed to the wastewater system, or other measures to reduce the need for bypass in the future.
Enhanced process (category 3)
90 days of notification
Enhanced process/high risk
- Include information required for Categories 1 and 2
- Asses alternative methods to perform bypass
- Produce a study that outlines the extent of environmental impacts
- Develop a monitoring and sampling plan
Regulatees must make the application at least 90 days before proposed bypass. This will allow ECCC to do a more thorough assessment to understand potential impact.
Regulatees must include all information required in category 1 and 2, in addition to:
- The methodology and results of a study that assess:
- where effluent mixes with receiving waters; and
- where there is a difference from the existing water conditions
- An example of this is a plume delineation study
- Detailed information on what other options the regulatee considered to complete the bypass, including an estimate of costs
- A plan for monitoring the effluent and the receiving environment before, during and after the bypass. This is to assess how effective mitigation measures are
ECCC may request additional information from an applicant to assist with assessing the potential negative effects of the bypass. ECCC must specify in writing the information required and the timeline for providing it.
Conditions once a Temporary Bypass Authorization has been issued:
The regulatee is required to send a follow-up report to ECCC within 90 days after the bypass has ended that contains:
- Actual duration and volume of the release
- Description of the actual treatment applied to effluent, if any
- Description of how the regulatee implemented mitigation and monitoring measures
- Results of monitoring conducted during the bypass (Category 3)
- For untreated Category 2 and all Category 3 bypasses, a confirmation of the existence of a publicly available plan of measures to reduce the need for future TBAs. This must include a schedule to implement the plan
Compliance obligations once a Temporary Bypass Authorization has been issued:
The regulatee must comply with Sections 7 to 22 and 48 of the Regulations. However, if the regulatee is not able to measure the average daily effluent volume at the wastewater system during the bypass, it can estimate the volume.
Process to apply
Temporary bypass applications are submitted in the Effluent Regulatory Reporting Information System. A regulatee must submit the application no later than 21, 45, or 90 days before the start of the bypass, depending on the category the bypass falls into (subsection 43).
Regulatee must also notify the authorization officer if they become aware that the information provided in the authorization is incorrect and provide corrections without delay.
Refusal of temporary bypass authorization
Under the proposed amendments, ECCC could refuse your TBA application if:
- ECCC believes the bypass would result in adverse effects on fish, fish habitat or use by man of fish that the regulatee cannot mitigated (subsection 45(3))
- The regulate does not submit the TBA in ERRIS under the required amount of time (21, 45 or 90 days before the start of the bypass) (subsection 43(3))
- ECCC believes that the information provided in the application is false or misleading (subsection 45(4))
- The application does not contain the required information (section 44)
For additional information
Visit the Wastewater website at Canada.ca/wastewater.
If the information you need is unavailable on our website, please contact Environment and Climate Change Canada at email@example.com.
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