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Wastewater FAQ's

Liquid Waste
Advisory Committee

Wastewater FAQ's

The Basics

Liquid Waste Management Plan

The Basics

What is liquid waste?

Liquid waste, wastewater, and sewage are terms for "used" water and the wastes that it carries. Basically, they are terms for what is flushed down the toilet or washed down the drain. Wastewater can also include rain water, groundwater or snow melt (inflow and infiltration) that make their way into sanitary wastewater pipes.

How is household water consumption connected to wastewater?

The majority of wastewater in the RDN comes from residential water use. By conserving water at home, we can reduce the cost to treat wastewater. Average Canadian indoor water use is illustrated below.

How is household water consumption connected to wastewater?

How is wastewater treated in the Regional District of Nanaimo?

The majority of wastewater in the RDN is treated by public wastewater (sewer) systems or privately-owned onsite systems (such as septic systems). A small number of properties are authorized by the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) to use pump and haul services. Typically, pump and haul services are used by properties with failing onsite systems or by those who cannot connect to public wastewater systems and are unable to obtain Ministry of Health approval for a conventional septic disposal system.

How do I know if I'm on sewer?

If you benefit from sewer services, your property tax and/or utility bill will include a charge for this service. Most people living within Nanaimo, Lantzville, Parksville, Qualicum Beach and French Creek receive sewer services. However, some properties within municipal boundaries have a private onsite (septic) system and some people in the Electoral Areas have sewer.

What levels of wastewater treatment are provided in the RDN?

The RDN owns and operates four wastewater treatment facilities: All facilities provide preliminary and at least primary treatment (GNPCC and NBPCC provide chemically-enhanced primary treatment). FCPCC provides secondary treatment and DPPCC provide secondary treatment with UV disinfection. More information on the different treatment levels is provided here.

What laws regulate municipal wastewater treatment?

Municipal wastewater treatment is governed by the provincial Municipal Wastewater Regulation and federal Wastewater Systems Effluent Regulations. These regulations include mandatory minimum effluent quality standards that can be achieved through secondary wastewater treatment or better. They also include requirements for monitoring, record-keeping, reporting and toxicity testing.

Liquid Waste Management Plan

What is a Liquid Waste Management Plan?

The LWMP is a 20-year plan to support sustainable wastewater management in the RDN.

Laws regulating municipal wastewater management require that municipal wastewater treatment facilities provide a minimum of secondary treatment. These laws also recognize that it will take time for some treatment facilities to provide secondary treatment. This plan authorizes the RDN to find community-driven and cost-effective solutions to protect public health and achieve a standard level of wastewater treatment over a reasonable timeframe.

Why is the RDN amending the LWMP?

An amendment is necessary because:
  • The MOE requires a LWMP review every five to ten years to determine if an amendment or update is required.
  • Most of the key regulations and guidelines governing wastewater management in BC were revised or developed after the original LWMP was approved.
  • The RDN met most of the original LWMP program commitments in the last ten years.
  • The RDN is requesting an amendment to the timeline for secondary treatment upgrades at Greater Nanaimo Pollution Control Centre (GNPCC) and Nanoose Bay Pollution Control Centre (NBPCC).

What is covered in the LWMP amendment?

Ten programs make up the core of the amended LWMP and provide the tools to implement the plan:
  • Public Wastewater Systems Program to increase wastewater services in rural areas
  • Private Onsite Systems Program to protect the public and environment from failing onsite systems
  • Source Control Program to prevent pollution
  • Odour Control Program to mitigate odour generated by wastewater infrastructure
  • Rainwater Management / Drinking Water & Watershed Protection Program to improve practices affecting rainwater, drinking water and stormwater
  • Volume Reduction Program to promote water conservation and reduce flows entering the treatment facilities
  • Inflow & Infiltration Program to reduce the volume of rainwater and groundwater entering the wastewater collection and treatment system
  • Pollution Control Centres Program to manage capital upgrade and expansion projects associated with the Greater Nanaimo, French Creek, Nanoose Bay and Duke Point Pollution Control Centres
  • Resource Recovery Program to maximize the value recovered from waste resources.
  • Biosolids Program to manage the beneficial use of biosolids.

I don't have sewer service... How does the LWMP Amendment affect me?

Four LWMP programs directly address issues for residents without sewer service:
  • Public Wastewater Systems Program
  • Private Onsite Systems Program, through which we offer SepticSmart
  • Source Control Program
  • Rainwater Management / Drinking Water & Watershed Protection Program

Who will pay for the costs of capital projects and upgrading treatment to secondary?

The RDN funds services, based on a user pay principle, by establishing service area bylaws. The capital and operating costs associated with a service cannot be charged to RDN ratepayers living outside of the established service area. For that reason, the cost of upgrading and operating the capital projects, such as secondary upgrades, must be born entirely by the residents living within the service area.

Operation and maintenance of RDN wastewater collection and treatment infrastructure are financed with tax requisitions for wastewater services. Revenue from resource recovery offsets the costs of wastewater treatment.

Capital projects, such as upgrades to and expansion of the pollution control centres are funded through capital charges, development cost charges (DCCs), property taxes, tax reserves, long term debt or grant funding.

Will the RDN explore grant funding for the secondary treatment upgrade projects?

To date, no grant funding has been awarded to either the GNPCC or NBPCC secondary upgrade project. Currently, the federal and provincial governments have no grant programs available to which the RDN can apply. If provincial or federal programs become available, the RDN will pursue grant funding to ease the tax burden on the residents. Three funding scenarios (no grant, 1/3 grant and 2/3 grant) are provided in the cost estimates for each secondary treatment upgrade option presented.

Blue Dots

For more information, please contact
Wastewater Services:

Nanaimo Area: (250) 390-6560
Parksville/Qualicum Beach Area:
(250) 954-3792
Toll Free in BC: 1-877-607-4111
Fax: (250) 390-1542
E-mail: rcu@rdn.bc.ca

Last Modified:  Feb 4, 2014
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