Temporary bypass authorizations guidance document

PDF version is available upon request.

Summary

Temporary bypass authorizations (TBAs) allow the owner or operator of a wastewater system to bypass one or more treatment processes for a defined period of time. This could result in exceeding effluent standards outlined in the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations (the Regulations). TBAs may be issued in the following circumstances:

A temporary bypass can be authorized from one or more final discharge points or overflow points.

Eligibility

To be eligible for a TBA, the applicant must meet the following criteria:

Deletrrious sustances

Deleterious substances in wastewater are carbonaceous biochemical oxygen demand (CBOD), suspended solids (SS), total residual chlorine (TRC) and un-ionized ammonia as specified in section 5 of the Regulations.

Any planned release of deleterious substances that may enter water frequented by fish, or any place, under any conditions where it may reach water frequented by fish, and that is not authorized by a temporary bypass authorization issued under the Regulations, is considered an unauthorized deposit and subject to subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act. Please consult our factsheet on unauthorized deposits for more information.

Before Applying

Determine Bypass Category

Applications for TBAs are based on risk. Applications fall into category 1 (low risk), category 2 (medium risk) or category 3 (high risk), based on:

A bypass will fall under one of the three options below based on the wastewater effluent quality:

The three options are:

  1. wastewater effluent receives physical or biological treatment
  2. wastewater effluent receives no treatment
  3. wastewater effluent release is due to precipitation events during a period of reduced treatment capacity

Applicants must use the figure below that best describes their effluent to determine the corresponding category.

Option 1: Wastewater effluent receives physical or biological treatment

Wastewater undergoes any treatment process, other than preliminary treatment, for the purpose of removing SS and/or CBOD matter. Examples of treatment technologies that would qualify include aerated lagoons and clarifiers. 

Wastewater effluent receives physical or biological treatment
Long description:

Is the volume greater than 500,000 m3 OR is the duration greater than 90 days? If yes, does the receiving environment meet the criteria? If yes, it’s a category 3, if no, it’s a category 2.​

 ​Is the volume less than or equal to 25,000 m3 AND the duration is less than or equal to 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. ​

Option 2: Wastewater effluent receives no treatment

During the bypass, wastewater receives no physical or biological treatment or only undergoes preliminary treatment. Examples of preliminary treatment that would qualify include screening and grit removals.  

Wastewater effluent receives no treatment
Long description:

Is the volume greater than 50,000 m3 OR is the duration greater than 30 days? OR does the receiving environment meet the criteria AND have a volume greater than 25,000 m3 OR duration greater than 15 days? If yes, it’s a category 3. If no, it’s a category 2.​

 ​Is the volume less than or equal to 2,500 m3 OR is the duration less than or equal to 2 days and the bypass does not meet all conditions of a category 3 bypass? 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. ​

Option 3: Wastewater effluent release is due to precipitation events during a period of reduced treatment capacity

The construction or maintenance work will reduce the capacity of the wastewater system. Untreated wastewater mixed with surface runoff and stormwater will be deposited only if a precipitation event occurs during the period of reduced treatment capacity. The release that may result from the reduced capacity would fall under this option. A precipitation event excludes the melting of snow or ice.

This table indicates the duration of the period of work, not the duration of the deposit. The period of work is the period that the system will have a reduced capacity due to construction work or maintenance. 

Wastewater effluent release is due to precipitation events occurring during a period of reduced capacity of the wastewater system
Long description:

Is the volume greater than 100,000 m3 OR is the work duration greater than 60 days? If yes, does the receiving environment meet the criteria? If yes, it’s a category 3. If no, it’s a category 2. ​

 ​Is the volume less than or equal to 5,000 m3 OR is the work duration less than or equal to 4 days and the bypass does not meet all conditions of a category 3 bypass? 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. ​

Receiving Environment Criteria

Two receiving environment criteria could cause a bypass to fall into a Category 3 (high risk). 

Shellfish Harvesting Area

A shellfish harvesting area is within 1,500 meters of the bypass location.

To determine if this criterion applies to the bypass, use the shellfish harvesting area classification map. Areas on the map that would qualify as a shellfish harvesting area include:

The prohibited areas (black) do not qualify as a shellfish harvesting area. 

Critical Habitat 

An identified critical habitat for a federal protected aquatic species is within 500 meters of the bypass location.

To determine if this criterion applies, use this critical habitat map. All areas shown in red on the map linked above qualify as Critical Habitat for aquatic species at risk.

The maps can either be downloaded for external use or viewed using Government of Canada Open Maps. In Government of Canada Open Maps, multiple ESRI layers can be combined to view the data together. Additionally, external ESRI files can be uploaded to the viewer. Individual points can be searched in the viewer using the geolocation search and inputting the latitude/longitude coordinates in decimal degrees.

Notify  

Before submitting an application, the applicant must:

1.    Notify the public, and any community or Indigenous group if there are reasonable grounds to believe the bypass could impacte them. They must also be notified if they have used or may use the receiving environment before, during or after the bypass.

Consider that the public, community or Indigenous group may be affected due to the bypass impacting water usage, such as:

Considerations for the applicant when determining who to notify:

Consider notifying an Indigenous community if the head office is within 25 km of the point of entry (upstream or downstream). It is the responsibility of the applicant to determine the acceptable radius to notify Indigenous communities, depending on the volume and duration of effluent released. 

Use the Government of Canada website ATRIS to identify Indigenous groups that may be affected by the planned bypass.

When you notify, consider many communication methods, including:

Consider who is being notified and existing relationships when deciding what method(s) of communication to use.

Provide a rationale for the selected method of communication, for example: 

ECCC will review each application to ensure adequate Indigenous notification has been given. If notification is inadequate, the application is considered incomplete and the authorization may not be issued. 

2.    Notify ECCC’s Shellfish Water Classification Program if the proposed bypass will result in the deposit of effluent within a 20 km radius of marine waters or a shellfish harvesting area.

This notification should include:

Shellfish harvesting area maps are available on the Government of Canada open maps website.

Areas on the map that would qualify as a shellfish harvesting area include:

The prohibited areas (black) do not qualify as shellfish harvesting areas.

The Regulations define marine waters as:

Send the notification to:

Shellfish Water Classification Program

Science and Technology Branch

Environment and Climate Change Canada

For applications in NS, PE, NB and NL, email: atlantic.shellfish@ec.gc.ca

For applications in QC, email: f.dmsqepcecquebec-wqmsdswcpquebec.f@ec.gc.ca

For applications in BC, email: pcec-pacifique-rimd-swcp-pacific-dgir@ec.gc.ca

include eu-ww@ec.gc.ca on email

How to Apply

The applicant must submit a temporary bypass application through the online Effluent Regulations Reporting Information System (ERRIS). The application must be submitted a set number of days before the start of the bypass. The number of days is determined by the level of risk of the release:

at least 21 days before the deposit if the release is Category 1 (low risk)

at least 45 days before the deposit if the release is Category 2 (medium risk)

at least 90 days before the deposit if the release is Category 3 (high risk)

To be eligible, the application must meet specific requirements based on the category and level of risk. The applicant must include this information in the TBA application (section 44). Appendix A contains examples of the required information.

Category 1:

Required information for the application

The period (start and end dates) of the authorization

The approximate duration of the deposits (in hours)

The duration of the work (in hours)

The estimated volume (m3) of the deposits and an explanation of how the volume was estimated

A description of the treatment, if any, that will be applied to effluent prior to deposit, and whether deposits will be caused by precipitation events occurring during a period of reduced capacity

An explanation of how the bypass is designed to minimize the volume of effluent deposited and the concentrations of deleterious substances

The point(s), in latitude and longitude, from where effluent will be deposited

A description of the water or place where bypass will be deposited

If the bypass is at an overflow point, a statement indicating whether the water or place the overflow point releases into regularly receives wastewater under normal conditions

A description of the work and an explanation of why it is necessary to bypass at least one of the treatment processes normally applied to the wastewater

An explanation of how the bypass follows the previously declared plan to reduce bypasses over time (if required)

If the wastewater system has previously received a TBA for:

The applicant must submit, with the final report, a declaration that a plan exists to reduce large and untreated bypass in the future. If the applicant has declared a plan exists previously, they must explain how the new authorization falls under the plan for subsequent TBA applications.

A list of measures that will be implemented to avoid or mitigate the adverse effects of the bypass on fish, fish habitat or the use of fish by persons

A description and the results of notifications to and engagements with members of the public, communities or Indigenous groups that may be impacted by the proposed bypass

Category 2:

Provide all information required for a category 1 application. In addition, provide a detailed description of mitigation measures that will be put in place to avoid or lessen the negative effects of bypass on fish, fish habitat or the use of fish by persons.

The next section provides more information on mitigation measures.  

Category 3:

Provide all information required for categories 1 and 2 applications. In addition, provide the following information:

Mitigation Measures

Applications for all categories require information on mitigation measures that will be implemented to avoid or reduce the effects of the bypass on fish, fish habitat or the use of fish by persons. These measures should be specific to the work being performed, the resulting bypass and the receiving environment.

Consider more sensitive receiving environments in the development of mitigation measures and when selecting the timing of the work. Sensitive receiving environments can include:

Provide an explanation on how the proposed mitigation measures will reduce the impacts on the receiving environment during the bypass. If it is determined that the bypass will have adverse effects on fish and fish habitat that cannot be mitigated, ECCC may refuse the application.

Additional Information

ECCC may request additional information if it is required to assess the potential adverse effects of the bypass on fish, fish habitat or the use of fish by persons. ECCC must specify in writing the information needed and a timeline for providing it.

After a Temporary Bypass Authorization has been issued

Conditions on Temporary Bypass Authorizations

A TBA holder is authorized to deposit effluent during the period of work as long as they meet the conditions specified in their authorization. This includes implementing the mitigation and monitoring measures of the application.

Compliance Obligations

During the TBA, the holder must comply with other sections of the Regulations.

If the bypass occurs at least at one final discharge point, the TBA holder must still comply:

If the bypass occurs only at overflow point(s), the TBA holder must still comply:

During the authorization, the TBA holder must continue to monitor and report under the Regulations. If the TBA holder cannot during the bypass measure the volume or rate of flow of influent or effluent of the wastewater system in accordance with section 9, they may use a method of estimation to determine the daily volume in accordance with subsection 7(4).

Corrected Information

A TBA can be extended, modified or reissued after it has been approved if new information or a situation outside of the control of the owner or operator arises. If the category of the TBA changes, the TBA may be reissued if the additional information required under the new category has been submitted.

Final Report

The TBA holder must, within 90 days after the last day of the period of the authorization, send to ECCC a final report that contains:

For category 2 bypasses with no treatment, category 2 bypasses that are due to precipitation events during a period of reduced capacity and all category 3 bypasses, provide the following information:

Existing plans that have already been developed for a wastewater system such as asset management plans or combined sewer overflow reduction plans can be considered. They must contain sufficient information to meet the criteria.  

Applicants should provide information on their plan and how it is publicly accessible, for example by providing a website link.

Refusal and Revocation

Refusal of Temporary Bypass Authorization

ECCC may refuse a TBA application if:

Revocation of a Temporary Bypass Authorization

A TBA may be revoked by ECCC after it has been issued if:

ECCC must provide in writing the reasons for the proposed revocation to the TBA holder. Additionally, the TBA holder must be given the opportunity to discuss the proposed revocation in writing.

Annex 1: Application Examples

The period (start and end date) of the authorization

The approximate duration of the deposit (in hours)

The duration of the work (in hours)

The estimated volume (m3) of the deposit and an explanation of how the volume was estimated

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3

A description of the treatment, if any, that will be applied to effluent prior to deposit, and whether deposits will be caused by precipitation events occurring during a period of reduced capacity

Example 1

Example 2

An explanation of how the bypass is designed to minimize the volume of effluent deposited and the concentrations of deleterious substances

The point(s), in latitude and longitude, from where effluent will be deposited

A description of the water or place where bypass will be deposited

If bypass is at an overflow point, a statement indicating whether the water or place the overflow point releases into regularly receives wastewater under normal conditions

A description of the work and an explanation of why it is necessary to bypass at least one of the treatment processes normally applied to the wastewater in the system

An explanation of how the bypass follows the previously declared plan to reduce bypasses over time (if required)

A list of measures that will be implemented to avoid or mitigate the adverse effects of the bypass on fish, fish habitat or the use of fish by persons

Examples of measures that could be provided:

Include the choice of appropriate timing for the proposed work to reduce the risk of harm.

A description and the results of notifications to and engagements with members of the public, communities or Indigenous governing bodies that may be impacted by the proposed bypass

For additional information

Visit the Wastewater website.  

If the information you need is unavailable on our website, please contact Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) at eu-ww@ec.gc.ca.

Disclaimer

This information does not in any way supersede or modify the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations or the Fisheries Act, or offer any legal interpretation of those Regulations or Act. Where there are any inconsistencies between this information and the Regulations or Act, the Regulations or Act take precedence, respectively. A copy of the Regulations is available on line.

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