Decision Date: February 5, 1999
Panel: Don Cummings
Keywords: jurisdiction over sewage disposal; definition of “watercourse”, “surface watercourse” and “surface water body”; Murphy Oil Co. Ltd. v. Continental Insurance Co.; Corkum et al. v. Nash et al
The Village of Belcarra (“the Village”) appealed a decision of the Assistant Regional Waste Manager to issue a sewage permit under the Waste Management Act to the Farrer Cove Waste Water Management Association (“the Association”). The permit allowed discharge of less than 22.7 m3 into Indian Arm, a tidal water body, through a marine outfall. The Village argued that the permit should be rescinded as, according to the Conditional Exemption Regulation, this system was exempt from the Waste Management Act – it should have been considered under the Health Act and Sewage Disposal Regulation. Alternatively, it argued that the permit was deficient in that it did not address maximum levels of faecal coliform, disinfection, a backup system, maintenance of the access roads, and continuing maintenance of the system. It also argued that the Waste Manager should have ordered investigation of other land based options for sewage disposal before issuing the permit.
The Panel considered the language and intent of the Waste Management Act and the Regulation and found that the Waste Manager had not exceeded his jurisdiction by issuing the permit. Regarding the permit conditions, the Panel found that the estimated daily sewage flows needed to be recalculated by the Waste Manager, that a maximum level of faecal coliform discharge should be defined in the permit, and that the permit should be amended to make dechlorination mandatory should the Association ever decide to use disinfection by chlorine. Given that the system relied on mechanical treatment processes, the Panel found that the issue of power outages and equipment breakdown should be further investigated and that a minimum emergency storage capacity be determined and added to the permit.
The Panel was satisfied that the permit provisions bound the Association to ensure the proper use, operation and maintenance of the permitted system. However, the Panel ordered that the permit be amended to ensure that the Waste Manager would be able to raise, on an annual basis, the amount of security posted by the Association in both the contingency fund and the operation and maintenance fund. Finally, the Panel found that, even if the Waste Manager had the authority, there was no compelling reason to order the investigation of land-based options for sewage disposal. It also found there was no need to add a condition to the permit regarding maintenance of access roads. The appeal was allowed, in part. No costs were ordered.