The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change ("the Ministry") has implemented an Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (EASR) that requires people to register certain activities with the Ministry. The EASR is a public, online system where people engaging in selected activities are required to register the activity and meet operating requirements set out in regulation rather than seek an approval through an application submission and review process. These requirements could be comprised of, but not limited to, design requirements, pollution control measures and best management practices. The Ministry will enforce compliance with the EASR regulation according to its compliance strategy, as it does for all approvals today.
As part of the Ministry’s ongoing work to implement a risk-based environmental approvals program, additional activities and sectors are being evaluated for their potential inclusion on the EASR. This work involves comprehensive technical analysis and two periods of public consultation to ensure registry activities are developed in a transparent and science-based manner and that the resulting registry rules are protective of the environment.
On March 6, 2015, in the first round of public consultation, the ministry posted a technical discussion paper to the EBR (012-0580) for 45 days to gather comments relating to short term water takings. The development of the proposal was informed by various stakeholders and site visits. After a review of the comments received, the ministry is proposing a second round of public consultation on proposed draft regulations for short term water takings.
The focus of this technical discussion paper and draft regulations is on short-term, non-recurring water taking activities. The Ministry is seeking comments on the following:
A. Proposal to clarify that certain activities are not considered water takings by the Ministry, specifically:
- Diversion of a watercourse for the purpose of creating and maintaining a construction site located wholly or partially within the watercourse where the water is returned back to the watercourse.
B. Proposal to provide exemption from Permit to Take Water (PTTW) requirements with conditions for the following:
- To encourage wetlands, a taking of water by means of a structure or works constructed for the diversion or storage of water from a surface source of supply, if the structure or works are designed solely for the restoration, managing, conserving or enhancement of wetlands;
- A taking of water by means of an existing structure or works built across a watercourse for the diversion or storage of water from a surface source of supply if the structure or works is intended solely to allow all natural watercourse flow to pass freely over the crest of the structure. (i.e. weir). The proposed exemption would not include any structures that are utilized in hydro-electric projects (i.e. waterpower projects); and
- Pumping of water for the purpose of creating and maintaining a construction site located wholly or partially within the watercourse and where the water that has been pumped is returned back to the same watercourse, if prescribed requirements for discharge are met.
C. Proposal to regulate the following water takings to be prescribed activities for the purposes of the EASR:
- Surface water takings that are restricted to specific purposes involved in road construction;
- Short-term construction dewatering less than 400,000 L/day ; and
- The use, operation, establishment, alteration, extension or replacement of sewage works used for the purpose of collecting, transmitting and disposal of storm water in construction dewatering.
When developing a technical discussion paper to include a new activity/sector on the EASR, the Ministry undertakes a comprehensive technical analysis and consultation process. This process contains the following steps:
- Detailed scoping and technical assessment of activity/sector
• Engineering analysis
• Risk evaluation and modelling
• Jurisdictional review
• Evaluation of local concerns/complaints and past administrative non-compliance with requirement to obtain an approval
- Development of draft registry requirements
• Public consultation on a technical discussion paper describing proposed draft requirements (the report included in this posting)
- Development of a draft regulation
- Public consultation on a draft regulation
- Finalizing of regulation and implementation
We are now at Step 4 in this process, and are seeking public comment on the proposed draft regulations.
The attached technical discussion paper and draft regulations summarizes the proposed rationale for moving specific short-term, non-recurring water taking activities from the Permit To Take Water process under the Ontario Water Resources Act to the registration process on the EASR.
As with other activities registered in EASR, registration is available through the ministry’s Access Environment website which would provide information to the public about the operations registered in their community.
The ministry has developed a draft regulation to move certain water takings to the EASR registration framework. The eligibility criteria and operating requirements in the draft regulations for activities related to road construction and construction dewatering are intended to limit the prescribed activities to water takings that are routine activities and are of limited duration. The draft regulations for short term water taking activities are based on feedback received during consultation on the technical discussion paper.
In addition to the draft regulation prescribing activities for EASR, another proposed draft regulation clarifies that activities that have specific short term, passive in-stream diversion for construction purposes are not water takings. Passive diversion could include using a coffer dam to prevent water from entering a construction site or installing wooden barriers to create a dry construction site. Further, the draft regulation would also exempt water takings related to weirs, wetlands and the diversion of water for construction purposes using a pump from the requirements to obtain a PTTW.
Depending on the nature of the proposed activity, authorizations from a variety of regulatory agencies other than the ministry may be required. It is important to note that the draft regulations outlined would still require proponents to comply with other regulatory requirements. Proponents undertaking work remain responsible for complying with all municipal, provincial or federal legislation that applies to the work being carried out, or for the impact that their actions have on the natural environment.
This proposal was posted for a 45 day public review and comment period starting November 20, 2015. Comments were to be received by January 04, 2016.
All comments received during the comment period are being considered as part of the decision-making process by the Ministry.
Please Note: All comments and submissions received have become part of the public record.
Allowing more sectors to be eligible for EASR will provide economic benefits since businesses are now able to -register with greater certainty about the standards that will be applied to their activities. Decreased administrative burdens and predictable timelines associated with registrations will result in time and cost savings for the regulated community. Applications still need to meet both the eligibility and the operational requirements which ensure environmental measures are in place.