Interim Guidelines for Preparing Liquid Waste Management Plans
Section 4.0 Liquid Waste Management Planning Process
Local governments should recognize that the planning process will typically involve a minimum two to three year period for plan development. The cost to retain a consultant to help prepare a comprehensive LWMP that includes all of the components described in these guidelines is dependent upon the complexity of the plan. Costs for staff time, public consultation, and site specific studies (environmental, pre-design studies, geotechnical, etc.) are additional and will vary according to the circumstances.
The scope of work for the LWMP will be specific to each local government in reflecting the community goals and objectives and should be discussed at the outset of the process with the director (Ministry of Environment Regional Manager). Support of the scope of work should be received from the director and the advisory committee(s) (see Section 4.2) prior to starting work on each of the three stages of plan development. As work proceeds, the scope of work may be refined based on the findings of completed studies and the public consultation process. Documenting changes to the scope of work is critical to properly inform ministry staff and stakeholders of the process as it develops.
4.1 Initiation of Process
Normally a LWMP is formally initiated with a resolution being passed by a local government. This may be self directed on a voluntary basis or may be a requirement based on a request from the minister (see section 24(2) of the EMA). In the case of amendments to an existing plan research, evaluation and a public consultation process will occur (see Section 6.3) and the scope of work should be discussed and agreed upon with the director.
A copy of the local government resolution and their staff report providing justification for the process must be sent to the director, with copies and a covering letter going to the following agencies and groups:
- All municipalities, regional districts and First Nations within and adjacent to the LWMP area or who may be affected by the LWMP (e.g., downstream users);
- Environment Canada;
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada;
- Ministry of Agriculture;
- Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development;
- Ministry of Health;
- Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure; and
- Others as appropriate (e.g. as suggested by the director).
4.2 Liquid Waste Committees
Local governments should establish four committees comprising representatives of various interest groups, geographic areas, stakeholders, and senior government agencies. A guiding steering committee will be advised by two advisory committees, with a final plan monitoring committee which will serve after the plan has received approval from the Minster. One advisory committee should represent community/stakeholder interests (public advisory committee), and the other should emphasize technical aspects (technical advisory committee). Each advisory committee should report to the steering committee. The members of each committee should elect or agree upon a chairperson who will administer the committee. The committee structure should include mechanisms for referring matters to, receiving reports from, and forming linkages between other committees to maximize cooperation. In certain circumstances local governments may find it beneficial to establish a single advisory committee to fulfill the role of both the public and the technical advisory committee to improve communication and reduce the number of meetings required.
Local governments, in consultation with the director, should provide the steering and advisory committee(s) with reference scope of work and a mandate to advise local governments on matters pertaining to liquid waste management at all stages of the planning process. Each committee’s role should include input into the development of environmental guiding principles and the scope of work for studies needed to support the LWMP, design and implementation of the public review and consultation process, and review of interim and final reports. The advisory committee(s), in consultation with local governments and the director, should set the scope of work for a plan monitoring committee which will be developed after the plan is approved and will aid in plan implementation, monitoring, and provide on-going advice to local government council and staff (see Section 6.2). It is desirable for a plan monitoring committee to have continuity of membership from the advisory committee(s). Local governments should establish a reporting structure for each committee that ensures that committee reports and recommendations are given open consideration by the local government.
4.2.1 Steering Committee
A steering committee should be established to guide the advisory committees and to make recommendations to the local government council or board of directors. The steering committee will normally include senior political and technical representatives of the local government. The ministry and the consulting team may also be represented on the steering committee.
4.2.2 Public Advisory Committee
A public advisory committee should be established as early in the planning process as possible. In order to ensure that the public advisory committee primarily reflects community interests, local governments should seek and invite representation from each of the following sectors or groups, which exist in the community:
(a) One elected representative from each municipality;
(b) First Nations within or adjacent to the plan area;
(c) Local environmental groups;
(d) Residents of electoral area and municipalities in the regional district;
(e) Local business groups and rate-payer associations;
(f) Operators or owners of private liquid waste facilities;
(g) Generators of large liquid waste discharges;
(h) Local school districts;
(i) The technical advisory committee;
(j) The consulting team; and
(k) The Ministry of Environment.
4.2.3 Technical Advisory Committee
A technical advisory committee should be established concurrently with the public advisory committee. In order to ensure that the technical advisory committee primarily reflects government interests, the municipality should seek and invite representation from the following agencies and organizations:
(a) The Ministry of Environment
(b) Engineering and/or planning departments of the regional district and member municipalities;
(c) First Nations;
(d) Health Authorities;
(e) Provincial and federal ministries or agencies who have indicated interest or whose mandate will be affected by or will affect the planning process; and
(f) The public advisory committee, including at least one non-governmental and one governmental representative from that committee.
4.3 Consultation Process
The LWMP should include a program for public review and consultation as soon as practical after initiating the LWMP process. Input from the public advisory committee should be incorporated into the design of the public consultation process which will result in a consultation report. For guidance on First Nations consultation see Appendix 4.
The program should incorporate the following principles:
(a) Public involvement should begin as early in the planning process as possible;
(b) Information should be openly exchanged among the public, the local government, and the advisory committee(s);
(c) Public responses should be given open consideration by the local government and, where appropriate, addressed in the planning process; and
(d) The proceedings and results of activities, which are part of the public consultation process, should be documented and available for public scrutiny.
Examples of public consultation include mail-out brochures and newsletters, advertizing in the news media (print, radio, and TV), public opinion surveys, internet based communication, and public open houses.
The extent to which the various development options impact social issues should be addressed in the consultation process. The social impact on both existing and future development must be considered, including odour nuisance, noise, traffic, air quality and visual impact.
The level of accuracy of the cost estimates that form part of the public consultation process must be clearly explained in each stage of the plan development process. Apportionment of costs to existing users and to future development should be equitable. Local governments may wish to apply polluter and user pay principles when rate structures are formulated. In principle, those connected to the sewage system that contribute high volume and/or high contaminant loads may pay higher rates than those that contribute low volume and/or low contaminant loads.
The impact of costs on the taxpayer must be estimated for in the Stage 2 evaluation process and must form part of the Stage 3 LWMP. The possibility of senior government grants and the use of development cost charges to reduce capital costs should be presented for comparison with the no grant scenario. As a minimum, for a typical residential taxpayer, the added capital debt repayment and user fees associated with the Stage 2 options and the selected Stage 3 option should be presented. Under the Community Charter and Local Government Act, electoral approval must be sought for any borrowing associated with capital works. Because the EMA waives these requirements for elector approval for any borrowing necessary to implement the LWMP, it is important that the public has an opportunity to provide input with respect to proposed financing.
Adequate public consultation during the plan’s development is essential as there is no mechanism to appeal a plan once approved by the minister (see section 24(7) of the EMA). This assumes that a reasonable amount of consultation has occurred in the development of the LWMP and that liabilities or expenditures incurred by the public are detailed in the plan.
4.4 Three-Stage Process
The LWMP is developed in three stages (see Diagram 1 for a summary of the process). At the beginning of each stage a scope of work should be completed and submitted to ministry staff. The stage specific scope of work will guide the completion of a report for that stage. At the conclusion of each stage, local governments should seek endorsement of the report produced from the advisory committee(s). The final report should then be submitted to the director for review before proceeding to the next stage. At the conclusion of Stage 3, local governments should make a resolution to accept the final Stage 3 report (after review by the advisory committees and the director), and then submit the LWMP report to the minister for approval, with a copy to the director. The final scope of work should address the considerations detailed in Section 5 of these guidelines. The procedures include but are not limited to those described below.
4.4.1 Stage 1: Inventory of Existing Conditions and Development Projections (Long List of Options)
- Develop scope of work for Stage 1.
- Initiate public consultation process.
- Identify the plan area.
- Provide a description of existing infrastructure, environmental, social and economic conditions.
- Identify known problems in the existing liquid waste infrastructure (e.g. sewage treatment plant design and operation, sanitary sewer cross connections to storm sewers, sludge facilities, outfalls, public health risks and environmental risks etc.).
- Identify requirements to comply with the MSR.
- Reference official community plans.
- Reference local land use plans to describe existing land use and development and provide projections for future development.
- Identify plan criteria including applicable legislation, guidelines and criteria.
- Estimate water and sewage loadings.
- Identify existing volume reduction and source control programs, bylaws/licensing and outline options for enhancing these programs.
- Determine incidence of pump station overflows and sanitary sewer breaks and if cross connections between the sanitary sewers and storm sewers allow raw sewage to enter the storm sewer system. Develop concept design options for the mitigation of these problems.
- Identify extent of on-site sewage systems and problem areas.
- Identify the available database needed to assess effluent discharges to water and/or ground.
- Evaluate the environmental condition and risks associated with the proposed options.
- Identify boundaries of watersheds that lie wholly or partly within the plan area, describe existing stormwater management infrastructure, systems and programs. Identify hydraulic problems and if raw sewage or industrial waste can enter the stormwater system and where contamination can occur.
- Identify options for integrated resource recovery (see Section 5.14).
- Recommend stormwater management requirements and tasks for more detailed development in Stage 2.
- Describe existing septage and biosolids management programs, identify requirements to comply with the OMRR, and recommend biosolids management tasks for more detailed development in Stage 2.
- Develop concept design options with order of magnitude costs for wastewater treatment, use of reclaimed water, effluent disposal to address requirements for growth and development as well as requirements to upgrade on-site systems. Volume reduction and source control measures should be a basic component in the development of options. Concept options should be developed in light of current legislation and should consider long term goals of the provincial government.
- Obtain input from advisory committee(s).
- Conduct public review of options and incorporate feedback as appropriate.
- Evaluate options taking into account technical, economic, environmental, and social factors.
- Complete public consultation process at the draft report stage.
- Recommend short list of options for more detailed evaluation in Stage 2.
- Identify gaps in environmental database and recommend extent of additional data acquisition for Stage 2.
- Prepare the scope of work outline for Stage 2.
- Finalize Stage 1 report following analysis of public input and receipt of advisory committee review comments.
4.4.2 Stage 2: Detailed Evaluation (Short List of Options) and Preferred Option(s)
- Draft Stage 2 report with input from advisory committees.
- Continue public consultation process.
- Examine short-list options and associated costs in detail.
- Consider conducting an Environmental Impact Study to further refine options.
- Identify and discuss requirements to be included in operational certificates for facilities.
- Prepare the scope of work outline for Stage 3.
- Finalize Stage 2 report which contains recommended option(s).
- Submit Stage 2 report to the ministry regional office for review.
4.4.3 Stage 3: Summary of LWMP, Financing and Implementation Schedule
- Continue public consultation process.
- Further develop and evaluate recommended option(s) for sewage treatment, use of reclaimed water, and effluent disposal.
- Further develop and evaluate measures for volume reduction and source control programs. Prepare cost estimates including construction costs, operating and maintenance costs for the options and the cost to the local taxpayer. A present worth analysis of the alternatives should be included to determine which alternative may be least expensive over the long term.
- Further develop tasks for stormwater management. As a minimum, identify goals and objectives, initial requirements and commitments for a future stormwater management plan (e.g., data gathering, bylaw development, public education).
- Further develop tasks for septage and biosolids management. As a minimum, identify data gathering requirements and commitments for a future biosolids management plan.
- Carry out site-specific studies if needed to adequately allow the further development of options and their evaluation.
- Identify facilities to be regulated by operational certificates.
- Obtain input from advisory committee(s).
- Conduct public review of options and incorporate feedback as appropriate.
- Provide a list of recommendations for the LWMP.
- Complete the public consultation process at the draft report stage.
- Prepare scope of work outline for Stage 3.
- Finalize Stage 3 report following analysis of public input and upon receipt of the advisory committee review comments.
- Draft proposed operational certificate requirements for facility operation and environmental monitoring with advice from the appropriate regional ministry staff.
In some circumstances it may be appropriate to combine Stage 1 with Stage 2, or Stage 2 with Stage 3. However, it is crucial both to the success of the LWMP and to achieving the minister’s approval that adequate opportunities for public involvement not be sacrificed when combining stages of the planning process. The regional ministry staff should be consulted when combining plan stages or when there are any other deviations from the recommended process as outlined in these guidelines.
If during the liquid waste management planning process there are significant changes to the community’s goals, official community plan, etc., it may be necessary to revisit some or all parts of Stage 1 or 2. Communication between the engineering and planning departments of local governments is essential for long term infrastructure planning.
4.5 Plan Approval
At the completion of the process, the minister will consider the advice of the director and ministry staff before responding to a request for approval of a LWMP. The minister must be satisfied that the LWMP has been prepared in accordance with the EMA and that adequate public consultation has taken place as no mechanism for appeal will be available after ministerial approval (see EMA Section 27(2)). Approval of the LWMP will occur when the minister issues a letter of approval. This letter may incorporate additional requirements to be imposed upon local governments as a condition of plan approval.
At this point the plan monitoring committee (see section 6.2) should be activated to ensure proper plan implementation.
The director will then issue operational certificates for each facility and the municipality can proceed with implementation procedures contained in the plan.