BC Government Waste Water Regulations


Several statutes apply to the regulation of sewage and or waste water treatment systems

   1) Health act - Sewage Disposal Regulation -411/85 currently in effect

   2) Health act - Sewage System Regulation - 326/2004 effective May 31,2005

   3) Waste Management Act - 129/99 currently in effect, for large treatment systems, and marine dispersal

   4) Environmental Impact Study Guideline - approved by BC Environment Pollution Prevention and Remediation Branch

The following is not official, we have extracted the relevant portions of the acts as they exist now or will be in effect next year, and they are summarized below. Each section provides exerts from the act, followed by Go Green's role in conforming to the regulations.

Click on any of the links below to go directly to the appropriate section
Effluent quality classifications
Information required on a permit application
Horizontal Setbacks
Wastewater Flow Rate
Effluent Loading Rates
Design and installation specifications
Septic tank maintenance and pumping
User’s Manual
Inspection, monitoring and maintenance
Performance Monitoring
Registered Practioners
Waste Management Act
Environmental Impact Study

Effluent quality classifications

Type 1 – is the effluent quality of effluent discharged from a primary pre-treatment device such as a septic tank

   Effluent quality range to be between: BOD5 150 to 300 mg/L and TSS 80 to 200 mg/L.

Type 2 – will follow primary pre-treatment and increase effluent quality prior to subsurface soil base discharge

    Effluent quality range to be between: CBOD5 30 to 45 mg/L and TSS 30 to 60 mg/L

To comply with ANSI/National Sanitation Standard 40 Class I and Class II effluent quality parameters ANSI/National Sanitation Standard 40 Class I

     CBOD5 - 7-day average < 40 mg/l. and a 30-day average < 25 mg/l.

     TSS - 7-day average < 45 mg/l. and a 30-day average < 30 mg/l.

ANSI/National Sanitation Standard 40 Class II

    CBOD5 - not more than 10% of the samples > 60 mg/l.

    TSS - not more than 10 % of samples > 100 mg/l.

Type 3 – effluent quality parameter prior to subsurface dispersal

     CBOD5 10 mg/l or less and. TSS 10 mg/l or less.   400 CFU/100 ml or less Fecal coliform

Additional effluent quality parameters such as disinfection or nutrient reduction may be required for discharges into or near environmental sensitive areas or where water quality may be impaired.

Several of the Go Green systems have been monitored over a period of up to six years, and have continuously performed with CBOD5 levels under 4 mg/l, TSS under 4 mg/l, and fecal counts of under 250 CFU/100 ml

Information required on a permit application

         To be supplied by the property owner or developer:

Property owner contact information Address, legal description, identification number Lot dimensions and size (hectares)
Type and Size of facility Source of potable water supply Water conservation practices

         Supplied by Go Green

Treatment system manufacturer’s information Wastewater design flow rate Installation instructions
Serial numbers Designed treatment loading rate Start up procedures
Qualified service provider contact information Service contract, schedule maintenance events Monitoring needs, sampling and schedule
Operation and maintenance manual Treatment process design and classification  

         Supplied by a Registered Practioner or Professional Engineer - Authorized Personnel (not inclusive)

Surface Characteristics Subsurface soil characteristics Location of soil test pits
Hydraulic conductivity Infiltration, percolation, subsurface water flow Environmental sensitive areas within or in proximity to property
Source of potable water, drilled well, dug well Other sewage system(s) Buried power lines, gas lines, water lines, irrigation system
Property boundary ,Break-out areas Road allowance, location of Retaining walls , Buildings Dispersal system design
Site evaluator name and contact information Authorize person contact information Property development layout plan
Sewerage system layout plan Dispersal system design  

The services of a Professional Engineer may be desirable when:

    1) Percolation rates are less than 5 minutes per inch or greater than 30 minutes per inch.

    2) When a water well is less than 30 meters from the dispersal field.(not normally allowed)

    3) When the distance of the dispersal field from a property boundary is less than 15 meters (not normally allowed).

    4) Where a water body is less than 15 meters from the dispersal field

    5) Where slopes in the dispersal field exceed 15%

   Normally it is possible to locate a dispersal field to meet the constraints of conditions 2 to 5 above. However percolation rates of less than 5 minutes per inch require a larger than normal dispersal field as well as creation of a mound through which the effluent passes to slow absorption and allow time for further natural biological processes to act on the waste water before it reaches the water table. Dispersal rates of greater than 30 minutes per inch, which are present in certain areas of the lower mainland (Vancouver), can result in the dispersal site being plugged by solid wastes and failing. Because of the extremely high quality of the effluents from the Go Green system, it operates successfully under both extremes.

Horizontal Setbacks

The location of the sub-surface treatment tanks and the location of the dispersal field can not be less than a certain distance from buildings, water sources and property lines. The exact distances depend on the effluent class, the following table summarizes the distances for a class 3 system (Go Green). The horizontal offset for class 1 and 2 systems from the dispersal field is usually twice that for a class 3 system.

Horizontal Offset Dispersal system Water treatment tanks
Property line 1.5 meters 1 meter
Potable water (well) 15 meters 15 meters
Water line 1.5 meters 1 meter
Building 1 meter 1 meter
Breakout point 7.6 meters 10 meters
Fresh water (river,lake or pond) 20 meters 10 meters

Additional distances may be required for sloping terrain.

Wastewater Flow Rate

    The wastewater flow rate is an estimate of the amount of influent the treatment system will have to handle. For residential homes it is calculated on the basis of 275 liters per day per person, or 200 liters per day per person if water conservation devices are installed. It provides for peak flow rates of 1.5 times the average rate. The overall tank size required for a particular installation is based on this calculation. Go Green systems have been shown to be effective at peak rates of more than twice the average, as well as for periods up to a month when there is no useage.

    The sewage acts provide for specific calculation of flow rates for medical facilities, schools, food service providers, commercial, industrial and recreational facilities.

Effluent Loading Rates

The effluent loading rate is the amount of effluent that can be applied each day over a specified (bottom) area of infiltrative surface without compromising the permeability or conductive capacity of the soil . The sizing and configuration of subsurface soil based treatment and dispersal processes is based on this value and depends primarily on the soil type and hence the percolation rate.

    The linear loading rate is the rate of effluent moving into and away from the point of discharge. Linear loading rate is used in combination with the soil effluent loading rate to determine the size and design of the dispersal field.

Go Green systems have a large holding tank as the last stage, with a pump that regulates the effluent flow.

Design and installation specifications

    The Go Green system conforms to all standards required for tank design, access, inspection openings, riser lids, cold weather operation, and piping. The aerator and pump are installed inside the concrete chambers so operate at approximately 20 degrees at all times. The constant temperature also assures that the bacteria remain healthy and active. Alternative treatment systems usually have a pump located above service, and are thus less reliable in cold weather as well as being noisy and increasing the surface footprint.

   Our partner companies who provide installation of systems are familiar with and conform to all regulations required for ventilation, electrical wiring, as well as piping and couplings, and backfilling requirements needed for the dispersal system.

Septic tank maintenance and pumping

Septic tank will require periodic scheduled inspection to determine the septage pump out requirements . Pump out is required when the top of sludge level is < 35 cm. from bottom of outlet tee or the bottom of scum level is < 7.5 cm. to the bottom of the outlet tee. In effluent class 1 system typical periods before pumping is required are 1 to 3 years.

Because of the large solid removal chamber (the equivalent of the septic tank) as well as other design features in the Go Green system, several systems have operated for more than 5 years without requiring pumping.

User’s Manual

    The qualified person must prepare and provide to owner an user’s manual addressing the following items:

     1) Contact information for the system designer, installer, component manufacturer and service provider.

     2) System description including process diagram

     3) List of components and a description of their function

     4) Service contract information

     5) Routine maintenance tasks and schedule

     6) Maintenance Log

     7) As-Built drawing

Go Green provides the above free of charge for all systems installed in British Columbia. A sample of the user's manual is available online.

Inspection, monitoring and maintenance

     Only qualified sub-surface drip dispersal system service providers are to perform maintenance. Knowledge and skill level required is product specific and service providers are responsible for obtaining proper training. Recommended maintenance tasks depend on the manufacturer and specific components of the system. .. Maintenance to be performed in accordance with manufacturers recommendations.

The qualified service provider must perform an initial inspection and system check within 30 days of installation and start-up of the system. including

   1) Inspect and service filters in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations.

   2) Execute a flush valve test for approximately 5 minutes

   3) Inspect and clean as needed field and filter flush valves

The above tests are provided free of charge under the maintenance agreement with Go Green.

Performance Monitoring

    Effluent quality performance monitoring will be required for soil base and pre-dispersal treatment systems. Samples will require proper quality assurance and control procedures and be performed in accordance to Standards Method for the Examination of Water and Wastewater, American Public Health Association, EPA manual Methods for Chemical Analysis of Water and Wastes or other recognized environmental sampling Standards of Procedures. All samples are to be performed by a qualified person following established standards of procedures . Samples to be analyzed by an accredited lab .. Results along with any additional information relating to the performance monitoring process will be submitted by the homeowner to the health Authority and any other administrative entity of responsibility.

Sample scheduling

Type 3 systems will require monitoring no less than 4 times a year. This regulation is not yet in place, but will be provided by Go Green through our maintenance agreement. The service agreement operator will collect the samples during maintenance inspection. They are sent to PSC Analytic Services Inc. for the actual testing and distribution of the results to the required authority.

Registered Practioners

It is proposed under the new legislation that the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians Association of British Columbia (ASTTBC) be responsible for the registration of "Registered Practioners" and that only registered companies be allowed to design, install and maintain newly installed water treatment systems falling under type 1 (septic tanks) or type 2 (effluent quality 45 mg/l for BOD and TSS). Advanced treatment systems including Go Green Systems (type 3, effluent quality 10 mg/l for BOD and TSS) will continue to require an engineer certification of suitability ("Professional Practioner"). The intent of the new legislation is to require that water treatment systems meet an expected outcome in terms of effluent quality, maintainability and protection of the environment, rather than any specific design criteria. Permits as such will no longer be required, instead there will be a registration form to be submitted to the appropriate authority providing design criteria, technical drawings, and maintenance records. The details of how these new procedures will work have not been established at this time, check back to this page for more details.

Waste Management Act-Municipal Sewage Regulation

The Waste Management Act regulates municipal sewage treatment systems, as well as privately operated systems where the average daily flow exceeds 37 cubic meters. This act also applies where the discharge is to a lake or river under provincial jurisdiction. In some cases the developer may even have a choice to design a system specifically to fit the Health Act or the Waste Management Act. The Waste Management act is administered by district managers throughout the Province of BC. Application is made to the manager for a discharge number. The effluent quality standards to be meet are similar to those in the Health Act, usually 45 mg/l for BOD and TSS, or 10 mg/l if the discharge is to be reused for agricultural irrigation or as a potable water source. In the latter case, chlorination and dechlorination may also be required, as well as a contingency plan for an alternative method of disposing of the reclaimed water, approval from the local health authority, and daily or weekly monitoring. Where effluent will be discharged to a river or lake, a dilution zone is determined depending on the water body size.

There are significant additional costs involved, and the process may take longer if approval is required under the Waste Management act. In addition to the usual soil analysis and site plans, the following are required:

1) An environmental impact study, which may indicate the need for advanced treatment

2) The system design and drawings are sealed by a qualified professional

3) An operating plan for the sewage system to be submitted 90 days before any construction commences, to include emergency procedures, monitoring and certification of maintenance staff

4) Operators of the system are certified under the Environmental Operators Certification Program

5) Monitoring requirements and reporting as specified by the manager

6) Where discharge is to a river or lake, provide water quality standards at the point of discharge and upstream, as well as beyond the dilution zone.

7) A capital replacement fund (assurance fund) is established with an appropriate financial institute, with a security deposit in the amount of $1400 per cubic meter of daily flow, to the satisfaction of the manager, which can provide for the replacement repairs and maintenance of the sewage facility. An annual report on the assurance fund is also required.

8) Proof of land ownership

9) Construction may not commence till 90 days after registration under the regulation.

10) Retention time of the sewage system must be at least two days for the design maximum flow rate.

11) Severe penalties or imprisonment can occur for contravention of this act.

Specific Schedules

Reclaimed Water

For unrestricted public access -secondary treatment, chemical addition,filtration, disinfection and emergency storage - Ph 6 to 9 and less than 10 mg/l BOD5 weekly monitoring, less than 2.2 fecal coliform per 100 ml, daily monitoring

For restricted access - secondary treatment and disinfection, Ph 6 to 9, BOD less than 45 mg/l, fecal coliform less than 200/100 ml, weekly monitoring, TSS less than 45 mg/l, daily monitoring

In the above Turbidity less than 5 NTU at all times, fecal coliform not to exceed 14/100 ml at any time, total chlorine less than 0.5 mg/l. Reclaimed water must be odourless,clean, non toxic and not irritating to skin or eyes. For agricultural use there may be restrictions on all metals also.

Discharge to Water

For discharge to a lake of area greater than 100 hectare, or to open marine waters, a standard of 45 mg/l for TSS and BOD is required. For discharge to a river, where the lowest 2 year period flow volume is less than 40 times the effluent volume being discharged (the dilution ratio), a standard of 10 Mg/l for TSS and BOD may apply. Discharge is not normally permitted if the dilution factor is less than 10.

Discharge to a Dispersal Field

Effluent classes apply, A= high quality secondary, water well within 300 meters, B=high quality secondary C= secondary and D=Septic tank. Classes A and B require the 10/10 standard, C is 45/45.. The minimum drainage pipe length (effectively the length of the dispersal field depends on the percolation rate/inch (25mm) and the total maximum daily flow. For a 10 cubic meter per day flow in poorly percolating soil(30 minutes/inch) the minimum would be 150 meters. Monitoring is monthly for class A and B, quarterly for class C.

In all cases where a system must meet a standard, it is expected that average effluent values are substantially better than the maximum limits specified such that the maximum limits are meet at all times.

Go Green and the Waste Management Act

All Go Green water treatment systems meet the highest standard (class A) provided by the act. Certification is provided by Novatec Consultants, assurance plans are available thru Terasen Utility Services, and qualified maintenance and monitoring thru Associated Environmental Operators Inc. Property Developers should provide for a year lead time in making application under the Waste Management Act before construction is planned.

Environmental Impact Study Guidelines

A guideline for Environmental Impact Studies was published in 2000 as a companion document to the Municipal Sewage Regulation. The guidelines set out where created in conjunction with the federal government. The specific scope of an environmental study varies with the effluent discharge volume, whether the water will be reclaimed for other use, and whether the discharge will be to water or to the soil. For discharge to water, an initial dilution zone (IDZ) is calculated by a formula, and the dilution rate established according to the water volume passing a point on a river, divided by the volume of effluent to be discharged. As a minimum, the dilution rate must exceed 20 to 1 or the discharge will not be approved, and in general dilution rates of 100 to 1 or higher are expected.

The content of an Environmental Impact Study(EIS) is also location specific. The general intent is to assure that the design of any water treatment system will not have any harmful effect on people, fauna, flora, air quality and other environmental factors. Except by the express permission of the manager, the design must meet all the guidelines set out by the Municipal Sewage regulations(MSR) in regard to effluent levels such as BOD5, TSS, fecal coliform, nitrogen, phosphorous and chlorine, as well as toxic chemicals. Minimum dilution rates for marine discharge or subsurface travel time for ground discharges must also be meet. The study must be prepared and approved by a certified professional in the areas where expertise are required. For large projects, that may include experts in the fields of agrology, biology, ecology, chemistry, engineering, geology, hydrogeology, limnology (fresh water life), oceanography or public health. The EIS must be submitted at least 90 days prior to start of construction to the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks (MELP) Regional Pollution Prevention Manager. Prior to submission of the EIS, there is a pre-registration phase in which the proposed design is submitted by the discharger to the Manager, and meetings take place to establish the scope and requirements of the EIS. The following sections outline specific subjects to be addressed.

Reclaimed Water

1. How the reclaimed water will impact groundwater or subsurface water

2. The treatment requirements needed, taking into account temperature, nutrient loading, and water reservoirs

Discharge to Water

1. Water depths in a lake or marine environment

2. Assess currents, taking into account seasonal variation, wind, conductivity,depth and temperature.

3. Provide a drogue(funnel dispersal) modeling study that estimates the shape of the effluent plume and dilution rates at the initial dilution zone.

4. Determine the location and size of other discharges to the water body.

5. Assessment of tidal and flushing actions on the discharge.

6. Specification of the outfall (depth, flow and distance from shore) according to schedule 7 of the MSR.

7. Limnology studies for lake discharge to include stratification and overturn, yearly lake outflow, and theoretical detention time.

8. Inventory of receiving water use, including the location of wells or commercial shellfish harvesting, which must be more than 300 meters from the outfall.

9. Inventories of aquatic life, fisheries resources and habitat, with specific regard to endangered species.

10. Invertebrate assessment in lakes

11. Quantity and quality of discharge, taking into account upstream discharges.

12. Calculated nutrient loading including nitrogen and phosphorous, with an annual budget for lakes.

13. Establish pre-discharge conditions of sediment flora and fauna and chemistry and toxicity concerns.

14. Estimate water quality at the edge of the IDZ.

Discharge to Ground

1.Hydrogeological conditions of the area(water flow patterns and times)

2. Vertical distance to any low permeability layer below the dispersal field.

3. Vertical distance to the highest seasonal water table level.

4. The elevation to which the water table will be raised by the discharge, including the least favorable conditions of maximum hydraulic loading and 5 year return water levels.

5. Horizontal distance and subsurface travel time to property boundaries, bodies of water and wells.

6. The maximum infiltration capacity and natural discharge capacity of the soils.

7. Identification and mapping of aquifers,water wells, springs and surface water.

8. Present and predicted ground water quality.

9. Determine appropriate water quality guidelines at property lines and to protect down gradient users.

10. Removal of nutrients that may limit biological activity in the receiving environment.

11. Determine if groundwater will surface and the resulting impact.

12. Meet setback requirements

13. Consult and determine if advanced treatment specifications must be meet.

Location and Design of the Sewage Facility

As appropriate, the EIS shall consider location and possible expansion, provision for controlling adjacent development, odour potential, fisheries and wildlife resources, site work including roads, buildings, ditch, drainage and pipelines, archeological sites and First Nations lands, impact on the served community, and monitoring during the commissioning period. Monitoring may include stations upstream and downstream, including at least 5 samples taken in a 30 day period during the most critical season.

Limited scope EIS

Where the total discharge is less than 50 cubic meters/day, and the dilution ratio will exceed 100 to 1 to open marine waters or a stream, a more limited scope study may be permitted. The study should include

1. Maximum daily and average effluent flow.

2. Identify effluent quality for BOD5,TSS, total P, NH3 and fecal coliform.

3. Locate on a marine chart or topographical map and a large scale site plan the general location of the proposed discharge, as well as water useage, including fisheries resources, shellfish leases, drinking water,irrigation.

4. Identify existing discharges.

5. Determine outfall depth and distance to meet schedule 7 of the MSR.

6. Identify wind direction, tidal influences and marine or stream currents.

7. Estimate initial and subsequent dilution and dispersion using worst case temperature, PH and current conditions.

8. Estimate water quality at the IDZ(Initial Dilution Zone) and compare those to water guidelines.

9. Provide evaluation and recommendations of the need for pre-discharge monitoring, additional treatment, or post-discharge monitoring.

10. Summarize the EIS findings and recommendations in a report with appropriate illustrations and supporting data and calculations.

Greater Risk EIS

When the daily maximum flow will exceed 10000 cubic meters per day, or dilution factors will be less than 100 to 1, in addition to the 10 steps mentioned above, the following may be appropriate:

Initial Assessment of available data

1. Consider metals and toxic metal accumulation.

2. Determine outfall location taking into account sensitive areas for water use.

3.Possible recommendation of a pre-discharge environmental monitoring program and new data acquisition.

Site Specific Data Calculations

1. Initiate pre-discharge monitoring.

2. For marine discharges, conduct drogue studies(water flow from the discharge) aimed at determining whether the effluent might be directed shoreward or towards fisheries or recreational resources.

2. Conduct one month of monitoring at the bottom and key stratification levels taking into account conductivity/temperature/depth (CTD) and wind.

3. Do computer modeling based on the monitoring results to determine water quality at the IDZ and specific areas of concern, and provide additional recommendations as needed to protect human health and the environment.

Low flow Ground Disposal Fields -

Where the total discharge volume is less than 37 cubic meters/day (roughly 20 homes or 80 people) and there are favorable conditions for ground dispersal from a septic tank system, a limited scope EIS will apply to address the following:

1. Identify maximum daily and average annual effluent flow,including influent and effluent levels of BOD5,TSS, total P,NH3 and fecal coliform.

2.Locate on a site plan the proposed discharge field, topographic features, property lines, existing discharges on adjacent properties, water uses and well locations.

3. Identify direction and velocity of groundwater flow and subsurface travel times, and water quality guidelines at property lines.

4. Confirm that setback distances of 60 meters to the nearest well and 30 meters to the nearest surface water are met.

5. Assure system users are provided with proper information on control measures and maintenance.

6. Provide for post-discharge monitoring to include water quality, possible plugging of the disposal site and down-gradient seepage.

7. Provide recommendations and a written report with appropriate illustrations and data sources.

High Flow Ground Discharge

Where the total volume is more than 200 cubic meters per day, a two stage process similar to that for large discharges to water will be required. Initial assessment of the available data may identify the need for pre-discharge monitoring using wells up and down-gradient at the property line, and piezometers(pressure measuring devices) to determine groundwater flow rates and directions.

Siting of New Treatment Plants

In addition to the above, for large treatment plants, the long term effects on fisheries, wildlife, wetlands, traffic patterns, noise and air quality, visual impact, First Nations land claims, registered archeological sites, and geological hazards such as seismic activity and land slide potential must be considered.
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