Waste Discharge Authorizations

The Waste Discharge Regulation defines what industries, activities and operations require authorizations to discharge or release waste to the air, water, and land under the Environmental Management Act (EMA) in B.C. Find out how to apply and what is required to obtain an authorization.

Types of Authorizations

An authorization under the Environment Management Act may be: a registration or notification under a regulation or code of practice, a permit, approval, waste management plan or operational certificate. See below for further information regarding the different types of authorizations.

The Ministry has two types of regulations to authorize common types of waste discharges: 1) those issued by Cabinet, 2) and those issued by the Minister of Environment (Codes of Practice). These regulations, including Codes of Practice, set out common or standard terms and conditions required to discharge waste. 

Registrations

To comply with these regulations, dischargers may be required (based on the specific regulation) to submit a registration identifying specific information about their industry, business, operation or activity. Generally, the registration process includes submitting a form and paying fees as outlined on the Guidance, Forms & Fees page. In many cases, the Ministry may need to evaluate the registration before a Director grants permission to discharge.

If information changes with regard to a registration, it is up to the registration holder to update the information accordingly and usually within a specific timeframe.

Notifications

A notification is a written notice or submission as described in certain regulations, where a discharger must submit specific information about an operation or activity to the Ministry. In some cases, a notification may be required either in addition to a registration or independently, and sometimes a notice must be submitted within a certain time frame, either before or after a discharge occurs. Depending on the specific regulation, the Ministry may not need to adjudicate the notification in order for a discharger to proceed. To get more information on specific regulation requirements, visit the Guidance, Forms & Fees page.

In other cases, neither a registration or notification is required and a person must only comply with the requirements established in the regulation. Regardless, a person must comply with all applicable laws and regulations in order to have permission to discharge.

 

A permit is a site-specific authorization granting permission to discharge waste to the environment from a specific industry or activity. A permit sets the terms under which discharge may occur for a particular facility, activity or operation. Permits are ongoing authorizations and may be amended, transferred, suspended, or cancelled.

An approval is similar to a permit, which sets the terms under which discharge may occur for a particular facility, activity or operation, however an approval is issued for short-term period, up to a maximum of 15 months. An approval may be amended, suspended or cancelled, and will automatically expire at the end of its term; it cannot be renewed.

An operational certificate is issued in response to the authorization of a waste management plan. Waste management plans are generally completed by regional government bodies to control the disposal of municipal garbage or sewage. An Operational Certificate is issued to the plan holder, or to private operators discharging under the plan, to specify additional terms and conditions. Operational Certificates are ongoing and may be amended, suspended or cancelled.

 


Activities that Require Authorizations

Under the Environmental Management Act (EMA) the Waste Discharge Regulation (WDR) contains two schedules that prescribe which industries require authorization. 

Schedule 1 governs industries and activities that are unique, complex, or have variable technology.

Generally, a permit, approval, or registration under a regulation is required to authorize these discharges, and a detailed technical assessment is part of the application process.

Schedule 2 governs industries and activities that are or may be authorized by a Code of Practice.

  • Registration (or Notification) under a code of practice is required to authorize these discharges. If no code exists, then authorization may be provided by a site-specific permit or approval.  
  • When a new code of practice is enacted, dischargers may be required to comply with the new requirements and the site-specific permit or approval may be cancelled.

Industries or activities not listed in either Schedule 1 or 2 do not require a formal authorization or registration to discharge waste to the environment; however, discharges must not cause pollution.

Where problems exist, the Ministry may issue an order requiring that discharging activities cease, contamination is cleaned up, and pollution prevention occurs.

 


Applying for Authorizations

Applications for waste discharge authorizations under the Environmental Management Act (EMA) are managed according to one of two of the following processes. The processes are outlined in the reference document titled EMA Application Process Map (PDF)

1. The Express Transaction Process is for waste discharge applications that involve new registrations and updates to registration and notification processes. It also includes minor administrative amendments to existing authorizations (such as name or address changes, transfers, and cancellations of air and effluent permits).

  • Agricultural Waste Control Regulation: Boiler & Heater Registration
  • Air and Effluent Permit: Cancellations
  • Asphalt Plant Regulation: Registration and Notification
  • Concrete and Concrete Products Code of Practice (COP): Registration and Re-location Notification
  • Industrial Non-Hazardous Waste Landfills (Wood Processing) COP: Registration
  • Slaughter and Poultry Processing COP: Registration
  • Soil Amendment COP: Notification
  • Land-Based Finfish Waste Control Regulation: Registration
  • Mushroom Composting Facilities Regulation: Registration
  • Petroleum Storage and Distribution Facilities Storm Water Regulation: Registration
  • Vehicle Dismantling and Recycling Industry Environmental Planning Regulation
  • Names changes, address changes and transfers of ownership
  • Cancellation of registrations except Municipal Wastewater Regulation, Hazardous Waste Regulation and Organic Matter Recycling Regulation

Go to Guidance, Forms & Fees

 

2. The Routine Application Process is for waste discharge applications that require technical assessments and reviews by ministry staff. It includes activities described in the Waste Discharge Regulation under EMA that require a permit, approval or operational certificate, as well as registration or notification under a few regulations.

  • New permits, approvals or operational certificates
  • Amendments to existing permits, approvals and operational certificates
  • Municipal Wastewater Regulation: Registration and Updates
  • Hazardous Waste Regulation: Registration, Notification and Updates
  • Organic Matter Recycling Regulation: Notifications and Permits
  • Waste Discharge Regulation: Substitutions
  • Wood Residue Burner and Incinerator Regulation: Beehive Burners Requirements
  • Cancellation of Refuse Permits
  • Abandonments

Go directly to Guidance, Forms & Fees

 


Process Improvements

The Ministry is working to shorten timelines for obtaining permission to discharge. Additional materials and guidance are being developed to help applicants submit complete applications. New information will be posted as it is available.

Applicants will receive communication updates from Ministry staff as their application progresses through the Routine transaction process.

Note: Incomplete applications will not be processed by the Ministry. Applicants will be informed that information is missing and without it the application will not proceed to the next stage of the review. This will decrease processing time for all applicants and ensure the Ministry’s resources are spent reviewing application packages that are sufficient.


Status of Applications

Check the status of an application by accessing the Ministry’s data base through the Search Status & Documents page. Please note, only applications with complete information are tracked.