Transitional Authorizations

Summary of proposed amendments

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 does not offer any legal interpretation of the Regulations or Act.

Alternative format

The Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations (the Regulations) were published in the Canada Gazette, Part II in 2012. The national effluent quality standards came into effect in 2015.

Regulatees that could not meet the effluent quality standards had an opportunity to apply for an extension (transitional authorization). These extensions gave time to upgrade wastewater treatment systems. The deadline to apply was June 30, 2014.

A transitional authorization would allow regulatees to upgrade their wastewater system by the end of:

The level of risk varies according to the volume of effluent released, concentration of pollutants and receiving environment.

Wastewater systems with a transitional authorization do not have to meet the effluent standards. They must instead meet site-specific effluent standards. Transitional authorization holders are also not required to do acute lethality testing.

All transitional authorization holders must submit progress reports to Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). Regulatees must submit them roughly every five years. These reports must describe the progress made to upgrade the system and meet the standards of the Regulations.

Proposed amendments to transitional authorizations

The amended Regulations would allow regulatees to apply for a transitional authorization for their wastewater system. This would give authorization holders time to upgrade or build new treatment facilities to meet the effluent standards.

Eligible wastewater systems would receive a transitional authorization until the end of 2030 or 2040, according to their risk level. Wastewater systems qualifying for a transitional authorization to the end of 2020 would not be eligible. Those that already have a transitional authorization would not be eligible either.

The level of risk of a wastewater system is determined using a point-based system. It takes into consideration the:

The level of risk determines the end date for a transitional authorization.

This factsheet shows the proposed amendments to the application process for new transitional authorizations. It also outlines adjustments to monitoring and reporting requirements for all transitional authorization holders.

Sections 24 to 28 of the proposed Regulations would apply to transitional authorizations issued in the future. Sections 29 to 33 would apply to all transitional authorizations.

Where can I find information about transitional authorizations

Who is proposed to be eligible for a transitional authorization

A regulatee would have to demonstrate they can meet these proposed eligibility criteria:

  1. The wastewater system did not meet the effluent limits in past years for:
    • carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand (CBOD); and/or
    • suspended solids (SS)

Based on their earliest monitoring report(s) submitted to ECCC’s reporting system (ERRIS).

  1. The wastewater system is still not meeting the CBOD and/or SS effluent limits.  

Must fail one or both limits in half or more of the monitoring reports submitted two years before the application*.

  1. The system is not designed to meet a secondary level of treatment; and
  2. It was impossible to upgrade the system before applying for a transitional authorization due to costs or technical issues.

* Regulatees must actively monitor and report to ECCC to demonstrate they meet this criterion.

What information would be needed for a future application  

Regulatees would only be allowed to submit one transitional authorization application per wastewater system that will be upgraded.

An exception applies if:

  • A regulatee has 2 or more wastewater systems (including sewage outfalls) within its community; and
  • If they plan to merge them into one future treatment system

Under the proposed amendments, regulatees could consolidate them under one application (currently allowed for 10 or more outfalls). This would allow them to monitor and report on only the highest risk outfall, typically the outfall with the highest volume. 

Please see section 4 of the proposed regulations for more information.

The application would be based on Schedule 2 of the Regulations. Applicants would be required to provide the following information:

Regulatees can also use Schedule 3 on combined sewer overflows, as part of their application. The system of points under Schedule 3 would remain unchanged.

Is there a deadline to apply

There would be no deadline to apply. Any systems coming into the Regulations could apply in the future.

What are the proposed conditions for a transitional authorization

What are the proposed obligations under the transitional authorization

Proposed amendments to transitional authorization obligations would apply to both current and future transitional authorizations.

Progress Reports: Regulatees would be required to submit progress reports every 2 years to better track the progress on upgrades.

The current Regulations require progress reports every 5 years.

Reduced monitoring and reporting requirements: Continuous systems that are discharging less than 2,500 m3/day and are issued a transitional authorization would have to:

Currently, systems with no treatment that have a transitional authorization are required to sample monthly and report quarterly.

Estimating daily volumes: Continuous systems that are discharging less than 2,500 m3/day and are issued a transitional authorization would be allowed to use a method of estimation to determine the volume within a margin of error of ±15%.

Currently, systems with no treatment that have a transitional authorization are required to use monitoring equipment that provides a continuous measure of the volume or rate of flow.

Current Requirements:

Proposed new requirements:

*for continuous systems discharging less than 2,500 m3/day (including raw sewage outfalls)

What other amendments are being proposed to transitional authorizations


Visit the Wastewater website on the Canada waste water site. 

If the information you need is unavailable on our website, please contact Environment and Climate Change Canada at

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