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Wastewater is "used" water that contains a mixture of liquid and solid materials from residential and commercial sources. Wastewater flows through the sanitary sewer system to wastewater treatment facilities, where it is treated before being discharged into receiving waters.

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Peace River Regional District -
Wastewter Treatment Lagoon
Wastewater is approximately 99% water. The remainder is composed of a mix of organic wastes, detergent, cleaning chemicals and everything else poured or flushed down indoor drains. Wastewater contains chemicals and micro-organisms which can threaten public health and/or damage the environment. Managing wastewater is, therefore, a key aspect of developing a high quality built environment that supports safe communities and protects ecological integrity.


In British Columbia, the Local Government Act and Community Charter enable local governments to provide wastewater services. Wastewater is regulated by two provincial agencies:

Wastewater Planning

Developing and implementing long-term waste management strategies is key to protecting the environment from the potentially adverse effects of wastewater. Local governments can develop a Liquid Waste Management Plan (LWMP) to help ensure that wastewater infrastructure will meet community needs today, and into the future.

The Liquid Waste Management Plan process takes into account the sensitivity of the receiving environment, the local government's ability to finance the upgraded wastewater facilities, and provides a process for public input to the waste management planning process. The LWMP allows local governments to schedule and develop strategies to address all municipal liquid waste, specifically:

  • wastewater treatment plant upgrading
  • sanitary sewer overflow management
  • infiltration and inflow management
  • emergency spill management
  • stormwater management
  • non-point source pollution management
  • subdivisions with on-site disposal
  • source control programs

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Water Pollution Control Centre - Salmon Arm


LWMPs help minimize the environmental impact of wastewater and ensure that development is consistent with Ministry of Environment waste management objectives and Ministry of Health public health objectives. A well managed LWMP protects human and environmental health and supports sound financial planning.


Funding for Wastewater Management

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Moresby Sewer Project
- Prince Rupert
Through targeted planning and capital assistance, the Local Government Department supports the development of sustainable wastewater infrastructure with two types of grants: Infrastructure Planning Grants and Capital Grants.

The Infrastructure Planning Grant Program assists local governments by providing grants up to $10,000 to study the feasibility and planning for wastewater projects. The Program supports a range of activities related to wastewater infrastructure including, but not limited to:

  • Liquid Waste Management Plans
  • Feasibility Studies for Beneficial Biosolids Reuse
  • Designs for Wastewater Treatment Constructed Wetlands
  • Capital Asset Management Plans
  • On-Site Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Studies
  • Wastewater Reclamation studies


The Department participates in several inter-agency working groups that develop legislation, policy, regulatory tools and advisory material for local governments.

The Green Infrastructure Partnership is an example of a collaborative effort that is working to develop tools for introducing green infrastructure at the local level. This partnership has produced the Green Design Guidelines to provide local governments with alternative construction standards and practices that will allow for the development of sustainable municipal infrastructure.

By partnering with organizations such as the BC Water and Waste Association, the Department is able to pool resources and increase the delivery of sustainable and cost effective management practices.


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