Agenda Index City of Vancouver


Date: October 22, 1997

Dept. File No. H193-37

CC File No. 3753

TO: Vancouver City Council

FROM: General Manager of Engineering Services

SUBJECT: Draft Municipal Sewage Regulation - Version 3.1


THAT the Mayor send a letter on behalf of Council to the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks outlining the City’s comments contained in the body of this report with specific comments that:

1)The Ministry allow for some flexibility in the Regulation to allow exceptions which have been studied and incorporated into an approved Liquid Waste Management Plan

2)That CSO fees be calculated based on actual loadings to the environment rather than on a maximum daily discharge multiplied by BOD/TSS of 250 mg/l to more appropriately reflect the nature of these discharges.


Council has previously approved many policies regarding Liquid Waste Management including the recent Regional Liquid Waste Management Plan which received approval from the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks earlier this year.


This report discusses the Province’s draft Municipal Sewage Regulation and recommends communicating the City’s comments in a letter from the Mayor to the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks.


The Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks recently released draft 3.1 of its proposed Municipal Sewage Regulation, dated November 5, 1996 and has asked for comments by the end of October 1997. Since their release, the Ministry has made representation to the Regional Engineers Advisory Committee and to a meeting of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities. Comments have already been sent to the Ministry through the GVS&DD. This report is intended to provide comments to the Ministry from the perspective of the City of Vancouver.

The regulation has evolved from the Province’s 1992 initiative to develop a comprehensive regulation governing all aspects of municipal wastewater management. It is based on the Province’s major environmental policy developments of precautionary principle, polluter pay principle, and pollution prevention. The regulation would supersede the 1975 Pollution Control Objectives for Municipal Type Discharges in British Columbia and replace it with site specific objectives which are derived through each municipality’s Liquid Waste Management Plan. However the regulation sets minimum standards, including secondary treatment, which must be met with or without an LWMP. The regulation is also expected to produce administrative efficiencies by eliminating the need for permits to authorize the discharge of wastes to the receiving water environment.


The regulations encompass many good things. However there are two important areas where staff would recommend changes. There are also a number of more minor issues of a technical nature which are being addressed with the Ministry at the staff level.

Section 5(1) states that the regulation takes precedence over the Liquid Waste Management Plan (LWMP). This would suggest that there is no flexibility in the regulation for a site specific solution that takes into account the local environment and its surrounding issues. For example, preliminary studies indicate that a minor decrease in effluent regulations for sewage treatment plants (STPs) could save over $200 million at Iona STP without significantly affecting the local receiving waters. It would be difficult to justify the additional dollars to meet a regulation which does not provide a discernable benefit. Staff question regulations that promote a "one size fits all" formula given the commitment of local governments to the LWMP process. Staff recommends that Council request that the Ministry build flexibility into the regulation by allowing solutions to individual issues which have been identified through the LWMP.

Section 44(2) introduces a Waste Management Permit fee for combined sewer overflows in addition to fees currently collected for discharges at sewage treatment plants. Staff have estimated that the fees for CSOs in the City of Vancouver would be approximately $8 million per year. The size of this fee is out of proportion with the environmental impact of CSOs to the Region’s waterbodies and does not meet the principle of polluter pay. The fee is based on a maximum daily discharge volume in a year multiplied by a Biochemical Oxygen Demand/Total Suspended Solids (BOD/TSS) of 250 milligrams per litre (ie. quantity x quality). Given that CSOs are intermittent, Staff would suggest a fee based on annual volume multiplied by the actual quality which is approximately 60 milligrams per litre. This would produce a fee in the range of $200,000 per year. Staff recommend that Council request that the Ministry set fees for CSOs in line with their actual impact on the receiving environment to reflect the principle of polluter pay.

Staff have discussed the regulations with staff from other municipalities. All municipalities have an overriding concern regarding the need for greater flexibility in the regulations to deal with issues such as minimum treatment standards at sewage treatment plants and limits on inflow and infiltration to reduce peak flows. Staff agree that all these issues need to be looked at on the individual circumstances of each sewerage system and that the LWMP is the ideal vehicle for this work.

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