The waste discharge authorization process

Last updated on November 18, 2021

Learn about the process and timelines to get a waste discharge authorization.

How applications are processed

Depending on the type of waste or activity, authorization applications follow either a simple or complex approval process. Each process has a distinct series of steps with specific timelines.

Simple process

The simple process is for applications under a regulation or code of practice that are less complex and technical in nature.

Examples of applications following the simple process are:

  • Registering an agricultural boiler or heater
  • Registering a land-based finfish facility
  • Application of soil amendments 

Simple process overview

If your application falls under the simple process, getting permission to discharge waste follows these steps: 

Step 1: Intake

During this step, ministry staff process application fees and review application forms to ensure they are administratively complete.

After you submit your completed application form and any applicable fees, expect to:

  • Receive notification if your application is incomplete within 30 days
  • Have your application returned if it is incomplete. The application fees are not refunded

Step 2: Screening

During this step, ministry staff review your application to confirm it belongs in the simple process.

In this step, expect that:

  • Ministry staff may contact you for more information
  • It may take up to 60 days for ministry staff to complete screening of your application

Step 3: Completion

During this step, ministry staff complete your application and enter it into the system. 

In this step, expect:

  • To receive a letter to confirm or deny your authorization 

Target timelines

  • The simple process can take up to 90 days from the date the ministry receives your application form 

Complex process

The complex process is for applications that involve submission of specific technical information. It also involves a lot of interaction with ministry staff. 

Examples of applications following the complex process are:

  • Sewage discharges
  • Hazardous waste management facilities
  • Landfills

Complex process overview

If your application falls under the complex process, getting written permission to discharge waste follows these steps:

Step 1: Intake

During this step, ministry staff process application fees and review intake forms to ensure they are administratively complete. The intake forms include the information and supporting documentation describing your proposed project or activity.

After you submit your completed intake forms and any applicable fees, expect to:

  • Have your intake forms returned if they are incomplete. Application fees are not refunded
  • Receive a file tracking number within 30 days of the ministry accepting your intake forms

Step 2: Pre-application

During this step, ministry staff work with you to determine the components of your application package.

Expect to receive clear guidance, direction and communication from ministry staff on the information needed in your application package, including:

This step begins with ministry staff reviewing your intake forms and contacting you to set up a pre-application meeting to discuss the details of your application.

Before the meeting

It is recommended that you:

  • Review the discharge requirements in the applicable legislation for your project or activity
  • Ensure you are familiar with other government requirements (local, provincial, federal) for your project or activity, such as land use approvals
  • Review available guidance documents 
  • Review the Information Requirements Table (IRT) for your project or activity to see what you may need in your application package

During the meeting

During the pre-application meeting, you discuss the details of your application with ministry staff. The goal of the meeting is to:

  • Define and confirm what information is needed for your application. This can include:
    • Site plans
    • Closure plans
    • Management plans
    • Public consultation requirements 
    • Engagement with Indigenous communities requirements
  • Summarize the requirements into a checklist called an IRT

After the meeting

After the pre-application meeting, your ministry contact will send you an Application Instruction Document (AID) that clearly states the process and application requirements agreed upon during the meeting. The AID may include an IRT.

You are responsible to:

  • Acknowledge the application requirements and process by signing the AID
  • Complete the requirements outlined in the AID, which may include:
    • Preparing technical documents
    • Notifying the public and responding to concerns
    • Engaging with potentially impacted Indigenous communities

You have up to 36 months to develop your application materials and submit them to the ministry. Support is available upon request from your ministry contact throughout this process.

Step 3: Application submission and screening

In this step you submit your application package that contains all the documents outlined in the AID and IRT.

During this step ministry staff:

  • Screen your application package to ensure it is complete and free from administrative errors. It is not screened for technical details at this time
  • Contact you if any documents or administrative information is missing from the submission

Step 4: Review and decision

During this step ministry staff:

In this step, expect to:

  • Be contacted to provide additional details or information, or to address outstanding concerns from Indigenous communities
  • Receive the draft terms and conditions of the authorization for review
  • Be notified of the ministry's decision to approve or deny the application 

Target timelines

Timelines are dependent on complexity of the application. 

Steps Estimated time
Intake Up to 30 days for ministry staff to process the intake form 
Pre-application  Up to 120 days to hold the pre-application meeting 
Application submission Up to 36 months for the applicant to submit required documentation
Review and decision Up to 12 months for the ministry to review the submitted documentation

Need help?

If you have questions about what process your discharge falls under, our authorization administration staff can help.

Ask a question