Local government wastewater infrastructure
Managing wastewater through sustainable wastewater infrastructure is a key aspect of developing a high-quality built environment that supports safe communities and protects ecological integrity.
Wastewater is used water from residential and commercial sources that contains a mixture of liquid and solid materials. Wastewater flows through sanitary sewer system infrastructure to wastewater treatment facilities, where it is treated before being discharged into receiving waters.
Wastewater is approximately 99 percent water. The remainder is composed of a mix of organic wastes, detergents, cleaning chemicals and anything else poured or flushed down indoor drains. Wastewater contains chemicals and micro-organisms which can threaten public health and damage the environment.
The Local Government Act and Community Charter enable local governments to provide wastewater services. Wastewater is regulated by two provincial agencies:
- The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy regulates large community wastewater systems under the Environmental Management Act and the Municipal Wastewater Regulation.
- The Ministry of Health regulates smaller, generally private, domestic sewerage systems, including on-site septic systems under the Public Health Act and the Sewerage System Regulation.
Developing and implementing long-term waste management strategies protects the environment from the potentially adverse effects of wastewater. Local governments can develop a liquid waste management plan to ensure that wastewater infrastructure will meet current and future community needs.
The liquid waste management planning process takes into account the sensitivity of the receiving environment, the local government's ability to finance the upgraded wastewater infrastructure and provide room for public input about the waste management planning process.
Through a liquid waste management plan, local governments can develop strategies to address liquid waste, such as:
- Wastewater treatment plant upgrading
- Sanitary sewer overflow management
- Infiltration and inflow management
- Emergency spill management
- Stormwater management
- Non-point source pollution management
- On-site disposal for subdivisions
- Source control programs
Liquid waste management plans help minimize the environmental impact of wastewater and ensure that development is consistent with waste management and public health objectives set by the B.C. government. A well managed plan protects human and environmental health and supports sound financial planning.
Subdivision and sewerage best practices
Many rural areas in B.B rely on onsite sewerage systems as a permanent and sustainable means of addressing wastewater. These systems can complicate the approval process for subdivision. Regional districts can adopt best practice guidelines to streamline subdivision approvals while maintaining their protection of public health.
- Sewerage/Subdivision Best Practice Guideline (PDF)
- Reference Guideline #1: Hydrogeological Impact Assessment (PDF)
- Reference Guideline #2: Site Assessment (PDF)
- Reference Guideline #3: Soils Evaluation Guide (PDF 2.2MB)
- Reference Guideline #4: Covenants (PDF 1.8MB)
Wastewater infrastructure grants
Two types of grants are available to local governments to support the development of sustainable wastewater infrastructure-- infrastructure planning grants and capital grants.
Infrastructure planning grants
The infrastructure planning grant program funds local governments studies on the feasibility and plan for wastewater projects and supports a range of activities related to wastewater infrastructure.
Capital infrastructure grants
Capital infrastructure grants provide partial funding to local governments for the renewal, upgrade, or development of new wastewater infrastructure.