Regulatory Context for Environmental Compliance

The province is responsible for the protection, management and conservation of B.C.’s water, land, air and living resources. In order to do this, the province establishes and administers a broad suite of regulatory requirements. 

Environmental Management Act & Regulations

The Environmental Management Act (EMA) is one of the key laws governing environmental protection and management in B.C. EMA regulates industrial and municipal waste discharges, pollution, air quality, hazardous waste and contaminated site remediation. It provides the authority for Environmental Protection Officers and other government enforcement officers to verify compliance and to take enforcement action.

The primary statute that drives environmental compliance work is the EMA, supported by its regulations, particularly the Waste Discharge Regulation (WDR). However, there are many other regulations and codes of practice for which compliance is assessed in order to protect human health and the environment. Review a full list of regulations and codes of practice under the EMA

Regulatory Requirements & Activities Regulated

EMA authorizes the use of permits, regulations and codes of practice to regulate discharges to the environment. The WDR defines what activities require authorization to discharge waste to the environment under EMA. Any activities listed under Schedule 1 or 2 of the WDR must comply with all applicable regulatory requirements.  

For further information on the types of authorizations administered under EMA consult the Waste Discharge Authorizations page

Regulated activities include, but are not limited to, large commercial operations in the province such as mining, pulp and paper production, sawmill operations, concrete and cement plants, smelting and foundry facilities, oil and gas facilities, landfills, residential sewage works and manufacturing of chemical and synthetic materials.

The WDR also regulates a host of other activities such as open burning, agricultural operations, vehicle dismantling, and the hauling and storage of hazardous waste. For guidance on whether your activity or industry requires an authorization to discharge waste please consult the Waste Discharge Regulation Implementation Guide (PDF).