Managing Wastewater Discharges

Are there regulatory requirements for wastewater discharges?

Yes, there are several regulatory requirements for wastewater discharges, which vary depending upon the type of discharge. The discharge of wastewater can be categorized into planned and unplanned discharges.

How do I obtain approval for planned wastewater discharges?

Occasionally, partially treated or untreated wastewater is released. This may be necessary to complete work on collection or treatment systems, or to minimize overall discharge to the natural environment. The Water Act requires that all planned wastewater discharges be pre-approved. In the event of a planned discharge the following steps must be followed:

  • The overall quantity of discharge is minimized,
  • the strength of the wastewater to be discharged is minimized,
  • a preliminary application is made to the Department to allow for a planned discharge. This application must include details regarding why the discharge is necessary and provide estimations on quantity, cBOD5, TSS, faecal coliform, ammonia, and any other applicable parameters,,
  • a Permit to Construct/Modify is obtained from the Department,
  • a Discharge of Wastewater Notice is completed and appropriate authorities are notified, 
  • the system is monitored, as outlined in the Permit to Construct/Modify, and 
  • a report is filed with the Department when the discharge has been completed.

Records of the discharge must be kept regarding the:

  • duration of the discharge,
  • volume of wastewater discharged (measured or estimated), and
  • CBOD, TSS, and faecal coliform levels (measured or estimated)

These records must be submitted to the Department as requested. 

How do I report an unplanned wastewater discharge?

Reporting will depend upon when and to where the discharge occurred.

  • To report an unplanned discharge of wastewater to land during business hours, please speak with a Wastewater Technician at 1 (866) 368-5044.  If you cannot speak directly with a Wastewater Technician immediately, please follow the unplanned discharge procedures.
  • To report an unplanned discharge of wastewater to surface water during or after business hours, please follow the unplanned discharge procedures listed below.

What are the unplanned wastewater discharge reporting procedures?

A Discharge of Wastewater Notice must be provided to each of the four agencies listed in the Discharge of Wastewater Notice form within one hour of detecting an accidental or unplanned wastewater discharge of more than 450 litres. Possible unplanned releases may include:

  • discharge from a gravity or force main;
  • a lift station failure and/or overflow;
  • failure of a disinfection system at a wastewater treatment plant; or
  • a discharge that does not conform to the treatment plant Certificate of Approval and/or regulations.

The operator in Operator-In-Charge (OIC), or the OIC designate for the system is required to:

  • Confirm that a discharge has occurred;
  • call 1-902-426-6030 or 1-800-565-1633 to report the discharge and provide available details;
  • complete and forward a Discharge of Wastewater Notice to the appropriate authorities and, if possible, collect wastewater samples and submit them to an accredited laboratory for analysis for each of cBOD5, TSS, and faecal coliform; 
  • take necessary steps to stop or control the unplanned discharge; and
  • keep authorities informed of the discharge status, the corrective measure(s) being undertaken and providing notification when the discharge has stopped. 

Who can I contact for more information?

Morley Foy, P.Eng (Approvals & Compliance Engineer)
4th Floor, Jones Building(link is external)
11 Kent Street
Charlottetown, PEI C1A 7N8
Telephone: (902) 368-5036
Fax: (902) 368-5830


Ben Lanigan (Drinking Water and Wastewater Supervisor)
4th Floor, Jones Building
11 Kent Street
Charlottetown, PEI C1A 7N8
Telephone: (902) 368-5043
Fax: (902) 368-5830
Email: sends e-mail)

Published date: 
November 4, 2021
Environment, Energy and Climate Action

General Inquiries

Department of Environment, Energy and Climate Action
4th Floor, Jones Building
11 Kent Street
PO Box 2000
Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8

Phone: 902-368-5044
Toll-free: 1-866-368-5044
Fax: 902-368-5830
Report an Environmental Concern