Liquid Waste Management Plan

About the Project

The City of Castlegar is developing a Liquid Waste Management Plan (LWMP) which will guide the City's management of liquid waste over the next 20 years. A LWMP requires community engagement and feedback and is broken into three phases.

What is a Liquid Waste Management Plan?

A liquid waste management plan is a legal document approved by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (MOE). A LWMP enables municipalities to develop holistic plans for liquid waste management that consider the unique needs of the community, businesses, and geography, while also meeting strict environmental regulations.

The Ministry of Environment sets out three distinct stages for the LWMP process:

Stage 1 - Define the Problem & Identify Options

  • Define the baseline and answer the question "where are we now?"
  • Set the goals, using the Community Plan to answer "where do we want to end up?"
  • Develop a long list of options to figure out "how do we want to get there?"
  • Screen options to get a short list, and identify what information we need to continue evaluating the short list.

Stage 2 - Assess & Evaluate Options from Stage 1

  • Close the information gaps identified at the end of Stage 1 and evaluate how they impact the short list of options.
  • Select one option to proceed to Stage 3.

Stage 3 - Select the Final Option & Adopt the Plan

  • Complete a detailed study of the preferred option and steps for implementation. This will become the road map for the City and Council to follow.
  • Develop a financing plan to determine how the City will fund the plan and the work involved to realize it.
  • Council adopts and implements the plan, and it is approved by the MOE.

At each stage, a report is written that is approved by Council and sent to the MOE for approval. Once the Stage 3 report is adopted by Council and approved by the MOE, the City may begin enacting the plan.

Get Involved!

A key component across all stages of a LWMP is engagement with the public and consultation with Indigenous communities. Get involved by sharing your input. Here's how:

1. Apply to be on the LWMP Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee will help ensure that programs and policies are in the best interests of residents, businesses, and other interested parties in the City. There will be approximately 10 members of the Advisory Committee who will represent a broad spectrum of interests in the community to ensure the LWMP considers community, business, and environmental interests.

View the Committee's Terms of Reference here. To apply, submit a Statement of Interest by June 15, 2023 to with the subject line LWMP Advisory Committee and include the following information:

    • Your full name and address
    • A brief summary of any recent experience as a member of a committee that served a public interest and how you were able to fulfil your commitment to that group
    • A description of your familiarity and interest in liquid waste services and/or how the aquatic environment and sanitary services affect your sector of the community e.g. industry, tourism, etc.
    • A brief statement of your desire to participate and collaborate with others over a multi-year planning process.
2. Get Informed

Continue to check back on the project website for additional project information and upcoming engagement opportunities.

3. Ask Questions

Want more details on the project process? Please contact Travis Christianson at

4. Fill Out the Survey

We will be launching a survey later in early summer 2023. Please check back later for more details!

Project Timeline

  • Gather Input: Spring 2023
  • Stage 1 Report - Issues, Options and What We Heard: Late Summer 2023
  • Council Feedback on Stage 1 Report: Fall 2023
  • Ministry of Environment Review of Stage 1 Report: Fall 2023
  • Stage 2 Engagement Plan: Fall 2023
  • Stage 2: 2024*
  • Stage 3: 2025*

*Timeline to be updated for Stage 2 and 3 following completion of Phase 1


What is Liquid Waste?

Liquid waste is also referred to as wastewater, sewage, and stormwater runoff. Anything that is flushed down a toilet, poured down a sink or drain, or water that falls on roads, becomes liquid waste.

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Liquid waste is collected by drains which connect to sewers under the roads.

  • Sanitary sewage from sinks, toilets, and other household drains is conveyed to treatment plants to remove pollutants, garbage, and organic materials before being discharged to the Columbia River.
  • Storm sewers, which collect rainwater and other possibly contaminated water drained off the roads (like from washing your car) discharge liquid waste into the Columbia River, without treatment.

Traditionally, liquid waste has been viewed as unusable, and was collected, sometimes treated, and discharged back to the environment. However, as water resources world-wide become scarcer, both stormwater and sanitary sewage are increasingly recognized as a resource from which nutrients, energy, and water may be recovered and reused. An LWMP will explore treated water and biosolid reuse to determine if it is a good choice for Castlegar.

What liquid waste services does Castlegar currently provide?

The City owns and operates a dozen lift stations and roughly 75 kilometers of sewer pipe that collects wastewater from properties and sends it to one of Castlegar's two wastewater treatment plants.

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Sewage from the north end of town is conveyed to the lagoons on the north side of the Columbia River, and sewage from the south side is conveyed to the south sewage treatment plant in the woodland park neighbourhood. At the treatment plants, the wastewater is treated and cleaned before being discharged to the Columbia River.

The Blueberry area does not have sewage collection. Instead, properties rely on on-site septic tanks and dispersal fields. Septage (septic tank sludge) from these properties is managed by the Regional District of Central Kootenay.

Stormwater makes up the second part of liquid waste. This includes liquids that falls on roads, parking areas, roofs, and other surfaces where it runs off. This can include rainwater, but also water from washing vehicles or driveways, or any other liquids that land on roads, intentionally or accidentally, like oil or other spills. In some areas of Castlegar, stormwater is not captured in storm drains but runs off and infiltrates into the soil. In other areas, stormwater is captured by storm drains, which convey the water to the Columbia River without treatment.

Stormwater, septic systems, sewer collection, and treatment are all addressed in a LWMP. Currently, these components making up the City's sanitary sewer system operate under a permit issued by the BC Ministry of Environment.

Why Develop an LWMP Now?

The City has completed several studies on wastewater treatment in recent years which have outlined various challenges to liquid waste management in the City, including:

  • Should the two wastewater treatment plants be combined into one plant? Where should that plant be situated?
  • What is the best way for the City manage, mitigate, or eliminate the odour issues at the South Sewage Treatment Plant?
  • The North Sewage Treatment plant may need upgrades in the near future. What considerations should be included in the design?
  • How should the City manage unsewered areas like Blueberry? Or unsewered areas that may one day be part of the City, like Selkirk College, Robson or Ootischenia?

Rather than look at each challenge and solution individually, an LWMP looks at the entire City and surrounding area to create a single plan to address community challenges, as well as any others that come up during consultation and investigation.

These problems have been going on for ages! Why can't we just fix them now?

A LWMP will make sure that City funds are being spent effectively and with a long view on the future of the City. To attempt to resolve liquid waste challenges in the City without examining efficiencies or future growth may mean that the fix may cause other issues, or it may not be designed for the future growth of the City and need costly upgrades sooner.

How are people being consulted?

An LWMP requires significant community engagement to ensure that the plan addresses the concerns and suits the priorities of the public, businesses, and Indigenous communities. Engagement with interest holders in the community is taking place in a number of ways:

  • Indigenous consultation
  • Committees
  • Surveys and Open Houses
Indigenous Consultation

The City is reaching out to Indigenous communities separately through a government-to-government process. All Indigenous communities and organizations will be invited to participate in meetings, online surveys, and all other public processes.


There are two committees that inform the LWMP process: a steering committee, and an advisory committee.

Advisory Committee - made up of members who will be able to speak to a broad range of interests, and may include members of community groups, businesses, technical experts, or others, and responsible for the following:

  • assisting in developing guiding principles for the LWMP,
  • reading background reports and contributing perspectives and general guidance,
  • assisting in identifying and connecting the City with key interest groups, and
  • providing input on the public participation and communications processes.

Steering Committee - made up of staff and council representation. This committee is responsible for:

  • reading background reports and providing perspectives and guidance,
  • providing overall direction to the LWMP process, and
  • representing the process to Council.
Surveys & Open Houses

The City will be reaching out to the public with surveys and open houses. The feedback from these processes will be used to inform the options presented to the Advisory and Steering Committees and Council.

How will the City incorporate my feedback?

While many parts of a LWMP are regulatory, the City needs feedback from residents to determine some priorities that will affect the environment and sustainability including:

  • How important are aesthetics or innovation to the plan?
  • Should the City target meeting or exceeding the provincial and federal environmental regulations?
  • Should the City explore treated water reuse, or treating wastewater solids to use for fertilizers or land restoration?

Many of these priorities have cost implications and it will be important for Council to understand residents' preferences before making decisions on the plan. Your feedback will help the Advisory committee, steering committee, and council determine the courses of action most preferred by the community.

How are Decisions Made?

The Steering and Advisory committees will receive reports and options from the consultant team and use public feedback to provide comments and direction to the plan. It is the responsibility of Council to:

  • receive reports for information from the Steering Committee,
  • review final reports and provide feedback or endorsement, and
  • adopt the final report and empower staff to initiate the plan.

What are the benefits of a LWMP?

There are many benefits to completing an LWMP, including:

  • LWMPs take a “big picture” approach to problem-solving, allowing efficiencies that solve multiple problems while making sure not to cause others elsewhere.
  • The LWMP process was developed by the Province to empower communities to develop solutions that work for them, rather than have the Province impose one-size-fits-all solutions.
  • Without an LWMP, the Province may impose new regulations that would require urgent solutions. An LWMP allows the City to move at its own pace to find the best path forward.
  • With the final approval of the plan, it creates a clear path for Council and staff to follow, regardless of election cycles or staffing changes, and also financially plan for work to reduce the burden on residents.
  • It reduces the risk on the City of proceeding with a solution to one problem that may end up being a band-aid fix, or which may cause problems elsewhere.
  • Increases access to funding opportunities.
  • Allows the work in the plan to be implemented without further Provincial approval, more environmental assessments, or public engagement, as they were all completed under the LWMP process. This will save time and money.
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