Industrial Water Treatment: Environmental Regulations; The Enforcement & Application
Throughout British Columbia, we have seen an increased awareness of the environment and concerns for the quality of our water, ranging from drinking water to protecting our streams, fish, and wild fowl habitats. Currently, there are federal and provincial legislation that define environmental rules and regulations to promote environmental stewardship.
Before we ask businesses and the wider society to be willing participants, we first need to address the municipal ad hoc approach we use for the administration and enforcement of the legislation. The effort to implement and administer a comprehensive universal system of environmental standards to protect our rivers and streams will take a collective focus and determination to ensure we routinely put into practice the legislative requirements.
With the following, we hope to add a few suggestions to the dialogue that may help us move closer to realizing this collective goal. Enforcement and education are important elements.
Within B.C. communities, we have a patchwork system of regulations and bylaws; some municipalities have very stringent discharge requirements, while others have no regulations or do not enforce existing regulations. Our environmental stewardship needs to be unified across the province with all municipalities implementing and enforcing the regulations. Universal municipal enforcement may be a good first step to developing a level playing field across the province governing the quality of our water and wastewater.
With education, the goal is to ensure we have willing participants in the campaign to take care of our environment, at home, on-the-job, at the baseball field and within our institutions and governments. Our educational curriculum must be comprehensive and inclusive of everyone both individuals and businesses, as it should be a collective experience and a collective awareness. We need to broaden and personalize the educational experience through individual and group commitment. The educational experience must be personalized at every level of our society, from Kindergarten to the board room, for it to be successful.
How can we realize this degree of commitment at the corporate level? One example may be to look at the Safety-First model that most businesses use to minimize accidents and protect employees and the public. There are many established programs that ensure that safety is a cornerstone and a guiding principle. Most companies benefit from having a good safety record. We may consider implementing a similar model to make environmental stewardship an integral part of every companies’ DNA.
Another example could be establishing Silver, Gold, and Platinum standards for companies that adhere to environmental principles. Companies could then be awarded with certifications in these levels, which provide a seal indicating their level of environmental stewardship. These seals could be used in their advertising and to publicly promote their environmental commitment to the industry and the broader society. Meeting the standard may allow companies preferred access to government project sand the ability to conduct business with other companies that comply. For non compliant companies, continuing education would be the first step; fines could be imposed for repeated offenders, and limited access to government contracts could be used as a deterrent.
Such measures may be employed to ensure that, similar to the Safety-First programs, the Environment First program is at the core of every business and industry, and ultimately, at every facet of our economy and society.
By Shannon Brooks, Technical Manager & Glen Fyfe, General Manager, Lionsgate Water Treatment Ltd.
Shannon Brooks is a technical manager for Lionsgate Water Treatment Ltd.
Glen Fyfe is a general manager for Lionsgate Water Treatment Ltd.
As seen in the 2020 British Columbia ENVIRONMENT Industry Guide an official publication of the British Columbia Environmental Industry Association. (Page 16)