Environment and Climate Change Canada - Notice of Intent to Amend the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations

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Notice of intent to amend the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations

This notice of intent is to inform interested parties that Environment and Climate Change Canada is initiating the development of proposed regulatory amendments to the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations made under subsection 36(5) and paragraphs 43(1)(g.1), (g.2) and (h) of the Fisheries Act. The purpose of the amendments would be to provide a new opportunity for owners of wastewater systems to receive a transitional authorization (section 24). These amendments would apply to wastewater systems that would be eligible to receive a transitional authorization to the end of 2030 or 2040.


The Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations set national effluent quality standards that came into force in 2015. The Regulations allowed owners of wastewater systems, often communities, to apply for an extension (transitional authorization) beyond 2015 to meet the effluent quality standards if their existing infrastructure was not designed to meet these standards. Wastewater system owners had until June 2014 to apply.

Transitional authorizations allow communities more time to plan and finance upgrades to wastewater treatment plants, recognizing that constructing and upgrading the systems takes significant time to plan and finance. The duration of a transitional authorization is to the end of 2020, 2030, or 2040, based on the level of risk associated with a wastewater system (as defined in the Regulations). The risk criteria include consideration of effluent quality, volume, and receiving environment.

The proposal is to amend the Regulations to make transitional authorizations that will expire at the end of 2030 or 2040 available for owners of wastewater systems that do not currently have one and are eligible. The proposal will be based on the existing eligibility criteria of the Regulations and the existing system of points in Schedule 2, and where applicable, Schedule 3.

Any deposits that are not authorized under the Regulations remain subject to the general prohibition in subsection 36(3) of the Fisheries Act.


The Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations came into force in 2012. National effluent quality standards, achievable through a secondary level of treatment, came into effect in 2015.

The Regulations provide an authorization under the Fisheries Act to release effluent into water, as set out in the Regulations, for communities who are in compliance with the regulatory requirements. Communities not in compliance with the Regulations are subject to the general prohibition of the Fisheries Act, and potential enforcement actions.

The Regulations apply to any wastewater system that is designed to collect an average daily volume of 100 m3 or more (which is equivalent to a community of approximately 250 people).

The Regulations do not apply

  • in the Northwest Territories, in Nunavut, and north of the 54th parallel in Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador, due to the challenges of implementing standard treatment in the Far North; and
  • in Yukon and Quebec, as there are equivalency agreements in place for these jurisdictions.
Next steps

Environment and Climate Change Canada will be consulting interested parties on this proposal throughout 2020.

The proposed amendments are intended to be published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, in the fall of 2021. There will be a comment period following the publication, during which interested parties will have an opportunity to provide feedback.

To provide any comments or questions related to this notice, please submit them to:

Wastewater Program
Environment and Climate Change Canada
Telephone: 819‑420‑7727


View Proposal: Early Engagement on Amending the Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations 

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