Redside Dace now Listed as Endangered in Canada – What Does it Mean for You?

Photo Credit: K. Schmidt

Redside Dace are small freshwater fish that live in shallow streams and slow moving water. They range across the Northern United States and Southern Canada with populations concentrated around the GTA. They were added to the Species at Risk Act in 2009 due to diminishing populations from habitat loss and degradation. Redside Dace require gravel-bottomed waters with overhanging vegetation, much of which has been impacted by agricultural developments as well as diversion of streams and rivers. As of May 3rd, Redside Dace are federally listed as endangered in Canada affording them (and their habitats) substantial protections.

So what does this mean for you? The Provincial and Federal governments provide significant protections for species listed as threatened, endangered or extirpated which may affect any activity that will cause harm to the listed species or its habitat. When a species is listed, it is illegal to:

  • Kill, harm, harass, capture or take an individual of a listed species;
  • Possess, collect, buy, sell or trade an individual of a listed species, or any part or derivative of a listed species; and
  • Damage or destroy the residence of one or more individuals of a listed species.

This means that any activity that might affect Redside Dace’s habitat (such as storm water management systems, changing the course of a waterway, excessive sediment or removal of vegetation that might be associated with land development) is illegal without approval.  According to O. Reg. 242/08:

A person who wishes to carry out an activity [that affects Redside Dace habitat] shall comply with the following conditions:

Before beginning any part of the activity that is likely to kill, harm or harass Redside Dace or damage or destroy the habitat of Redside Dace,

i. The person must prepare a mitigation report in accordance with subsection (5),

ii. The person must submit the mitigation report to the district manager of the Ministry, and

iii. The district manager must approve the mitigation report, subject to subsection (6), and the person must have received written notice of the approval.

If you or your company are looking to do work that may affect endangered Redside Dace (or any other listed species) and require a mitigation report, or simply are unsure if your activity may affect an endangered species – give Cambium’s biology team a call, they will be happy to assist you! http://cambium-inc.com/biological-impact-assessment-and-monitoring.php

For more information, see: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/080242#BK28

Shifting Gears and Spring Clean Ups: Fun Ways to Support a Greener Tomorrow

Clean and Green Environmental Sustainability

Spring has arrived and with it a number of environmental clean ups and community eco-events have started in Peterborough. It’s time to spring up and clean up – here are some local Peterborough events to consider taking part in to encourage a green and clean community!

Shifting Gears is one of the annual spring events that Cambium staff has participated in for the past number of years. We take part in the Workplace Challenge and choose car-alternatives – bike, walk, and carpool or telecommute – for getting to work and appointments. Peterborough Moves organizes this month long event. Last year one of our staff even biked to work from Cavan-Monaghan to our Hunter Street Office! The event offers a number of activities including special nights for bike tune-ups, and group rides in addition to weekly draws. Check out the website and sign up – it’s your chance to make the shift towards active and sustainable transportation in a fun and competitive manner.

Everyone has a part to play in keeping our community healthy and green. If you are spring-cleaning your home, check out the City of Peterborough’s Spring Environment Day. It is happening on Saturday May 13, 2017 at Eastgate Park parking lot (2150 Ashburnham Road) from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., rain or shine. This is great opportunity to clean out and recycle items from your home – scrap metal, electronics, single use batteries, and more. A complete listing of items and event details are available on the City website.

Sustainability is a strong component of both Cambium’s work and general office culture. Our team is committed to support community development initiatives and sustainable practices for a greener and better tomorrow. If you or your business are looking for ways to increase sustainability give us a call and we can help; Cambium works with a number of clients to provide options for waste management solutions & audits, sustainability planning, hazardous material disposal, and much more.

Five Solutions to Common Environmental Site Assessment Errors

One of Cambium’s areas of expertise is with Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) and Peer Reviews. Our team completes hundreds of ESAs and Peer Reviews annually.  If you require a phase I or phase II ESA, this technical update provides general information on common, frustrating mistakes in Environmental Site Assessments related work and reporting.  With added due diligence, and words of wisdom, many of these common errors should and can be avoided.

Scenario One: Consultant conducts a Phase I ESA and recommends Phase II ESA work as during the records review; hazardous waste generation took place on neighbouring sites within the prescribed 250 m search radius.

Solution: Regulators allow Consultants to make arguments for exclusion, based on 3 facts, including but not limited to depth to groundwater, direction of groundwater flow, soil stratigraphy etc. Did your Consultant postulate with reasoning why a Phase II ESA was required here or merely provide default recommendations without further consideration?

Scenario Two: Consultant conducts Phase II ESA – Soils Investigation and finds samples near surface elevated with pH, EC and SAR. Consultant then suggests site remediation take place.

Solution: Regulators allow Consultants to take mathematical approaches to averaging pH within a 2 metre radius within the same soil unit. Regulators also allow Consultants to consider whether the Site Condition Standards were exceeded at the property solely because a substance was applied to a highway (i.e. street etc.) which is deemed exempt from the regulations.  Did your Consultant examine these possibilities prior to rendering a judgement?

Scenario Three: Consultant provides a Phase II ESA – Proposal and recommends analytical testing for just about every regulated parameter listed in the regulation.   Realtor solicits two (2) more proposals from competitors and finds completely different analytical work programs.

Solution: Experienced professionals understand which analytical test groups are associated with a particular industry or activity. There is no need to over analyze a site and test for all regulated compounds.   If in doubt, Consultants should rely on MOECC and CCME Guidance Manuals and reference documents, rather than offering everything available via our regulations.

Scenario Four: Consultant conducts a Phase III ESA – Environmental Site Cleanup at a former petroleum tankfarm location. Compliance is achieved for soils remediation, however no groundwater sampling was undertaken or if done, did not include recovery of groundwater within the open excavation.

Solution: A mandatory requirement of Ontario Regulation 153/04, as amended includes sampling and analysis of groundwater when a property was used in part for the following commercial uses: as a garage, gasoline outlet, or dry cleaner. Furthermore, to validate this requirement, groundwater must be recovered within the former remediation area, which means that installation of a monitoring well is necessary, post remediation to ensure satisfactory site cleanup.

Scenario Five: Consultant conducts a Phase II ESA Groundwater Investigation and finds elevated concentrations of several petroleum hydrocarbon compounds and/or volatile organic compounds. Consultant then suggests that site remediation take place, or worse yet, nothing can be done here.

Solution: Never rely on one set of data in such a circumstance. Have your Consultant resample and examine trends within the due diligence period.  Consultants need to recognize when more advanced sampling techniques should be employed.  Examples – Low Flow (Minimal Drawdown) Sampling, finer field filtration (0.20 um filters, when permitted) etc.  Consultants also need to recognize whether the results are trulyrepresentative (repeatable, defendable) or perhaps due to sampling/lab error.

We hope you find value in this blog. If you have any questions or would like further information on our ESA services, feel free to contact our experienced professionals: David Mably, P. Eng., out of the Cambium Barrie office or Brad Sawdon, P. Geo., at the Peterborough office.

Asbestos, a Dangerous Designated Substance Not Visible to the Eye

In a recent article, Asbestos Exposure is Still Making People Sick,  CNN reportes that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to see people suffer asbestos-related medical issues.

In Ontario, Designated Substances are defined as “a biological, chemical or physical agent to which the exposure of a worker is prohibited, regulated, restricted, limited or controlled.” Asbestos is one of 17 designated substances that present health and environmental risks. It can be found in a variety of everyday materials that may be present inside your work and home environment like vinyl sheet flooring, vinyl floor tiles, plaster, vermiculite insulation, ceiling tiles, drywall joint compound, and sealants.  It’s fibres are smaller than the diametre of human hair and even smaller than glass fibre. The risk for exposure and inhalation increase when the fibres are disturbed and exposed to air through the poor condition of the material, demolition/construction, or regular maintenance.

A problem with illnesses related to asbestos is the latency period. It takes a long time for the effects of asbestos exposure to develop and is hard to determine when the exposure happened to an individual.  In Ontario, asbestos is a designated substance and governed under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Regulation 278/05, Asbestos on Construction Projects and In Buildings and Repair operations.  It is important for businesses to have a non-intrusive compliance survey completed for the health and safety of your employees.  If the presence of asbestos is confirmed, a management plan is required to provide instructions and training for staff and maintenance on the proper procedures to prevent fibres and asbestos containing materials (ACM) from being exposed in the work environment.

Additionally, prior to any renovation or demolition, business and home owners hiring an independent contractor are required to complete an intrusive survey to determine the presence of materials which may be uncovered during those activities. Tearing down walls, removing ceiling tiles or insulation – these types of actions can disturb and release ACM fibres into the air.  It is always best to put the safety of your family, employees, and contractors first to ensure they are not exposed to this designated substance.

The removal, disposal and management of the asbestos abatement should be done by qualified professionals. Cambium specializes in Designated Substances Surveys (DSS), Asbestos and Hazardous Material Assessments. If you have any concerns or have questions, Cambium can assess and test for designated substances and develop an abatement plan to manage the removal.

Online Tool will help Municipalities Manage Excess Soils

The Importance of Managing Excess Soils

As Ontario continues to rapidly develop and cities continue to expand, the management of soils being excavated from developments and construction projects have to be considered. Excess soils are both a useful economic resource and a growing problem due to the sheer amount being moved. Excess soils have many uses such as constructing embankments, leveling or raising ground, commercial fills, agriculture etc. As useful as it  may be, it is not without its fair share of issues; soils may be of very different types and consistencies, be contaminated with pollutants, contain invasive species, be of generally low quality or be inappropriate for use in environmentally sensitive areas.

These issues are very detailed and specific which can make it quite difficult for municipalities to create By-Laws or regulations on the use of excess soils – something that may be very important for local sustainability and environmental damage control. Due to this issue the Canadian Urban Institute has created an online tool for municipalities to use for the creation of excess soils By-Laws simply and easily. The tool provides an easy-to-use interface and provides the language, structure, technical details and examples on excess soils for the creation of By-Laws. This new development should help to improve excess soil management greatly – which in turn will help to protect human health and protect the natural environment.

Cambium offers soils handling services and our goal is to provide a viable and feasible approach that satisfies landowners, developers, municipalities, and conservation authorities in maintaining the integrity and functionality of the natural systems. Give us a call if you have any questions about excess soils or would like further information about our services.

Environmental Activity and Sector Registry: How will the Air Emissions EASR Impact Your Facility

A guide to the new Environmental Activity and Sector Registry

Sadie Bachynski, Project Manager with Cambium, has written a blog to answer a number of questions about what the Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (EASR) is, who it applies to and what it means to your operations.

What is the EASR?

After quite an extensive process of public consultations and stakeholder input, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) is now operating the Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (EASR). The purpose of this new registry system is to provide a streamlined and easy approach to registering an activity that an individual or facility might be engaged in that releases any type of emission into the natural environment – as is required by the MOECC. Emissions may include air, noise and odourous emissions from a given site. This new system is an easy-to-access registry that can be found online on the Service Ontario website.

The idea behind this new system is fairly straightforward: if a person or business is emitting anything into the natural environment they must self-register online before they do so. The government of Ontario website puts this as: “O. Reg. 1/17 requires persons engaging in activities that discharge or may discharge contaminants to the natural environment, other than water, to register in the EASR unless the activities do not meet the criteria in the Regulation”.

Who does this apply to?

New and existing facilities are required to register if they make any modification to their emissions related activity. In essence this is a phasing out of the existing ECA process; however, if a person or business submitted an application for an activity outlined in O. Reg 1/17 on or before December 31, 2016 they will have the option of remaining in the current ECA process or withdraw their application and instead register with the EASR. If a facility receives an ECA process approval, the facility will have to register with the EASR by January 31, 2027 or when the modification to the facility/activity occurs. In essence, the MOECC is looking to phase out the ECA process for eligible EASR facilities by 2027 completely.

One of the major criterions of those who must apply to the EASR is the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code that they report under – these have carefully been assessed for potential environmental impact. Another major criterion is the complexity of the operations/activity being performed. In essence, anyone is eligible – unless the activity/operation in question is complex in nature and deemed to be a “potentially heavy emitter”. Complex operations remain under the realm of requiring an Environmental Compliance Approval from the MOECC. For more details on who is and is not eligible, see the link below to the full Regulation outline.

 

What does this mean for reporting?

This in no way alters the way a facility would have to assess, model, and even report on the air, noise and odour emissions. Nothing has changed in regards to registering – it is essentially the same as it would be for a full ECA in the sense that you still require full reports (or at least the associated screening to say that a report is not required). One difference is that the work is now to be signed off on by a professional engineer independent of the MOECC rather than by the MOECC. Specific documents related to a facility’s emissions of air, noise and odour will have to be supplied to the Ministry and the public and the detailed reports and any addendums made over time are to be kept at the facility.

 

Cap and Trade, Environmental Activity and Sector Registry (EASR) and other Regulation Changes that Impact Your Business

The new Cap and Trade is designed to help fight climate change and  reward businesses that reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. There are also new regulation changes to the Environmental Activities and Sector Registry (EASR).  New regulations and legislative changes like this will help to improve our environment, but require some changes for how your business operates and reports environmental compliance to the Ministry.

Cambium’s mission is to provide exceptional service guiding decisions for a better future. With regulation changes, we strive to engage in new learning opportunities and participate in continued education in order to provide our clients with practical and innovative solutions.  Our Air and Noise Professionals are members of the Air and Waste Management Association (AWMA) and will meet with air practitioners across Ontario next week to discuss the new EASR regulation (O.Reg. 1/17) requirements which include air, noise, and odour updates, in addition to other items such as modelling updates and licensing obligations.

Our team will be sharing information from these sessions through future blog posts to help you better understand these changes and how it may impact your operations. Some of this information will include:

  • EASR Regulation Registration Process Updates and Associated Professional Engineers Obligations;
  • General Environmental Compliance Approval Updates and Future Plans; and
  • Cap and Trade Requirements.

Our Air and Noise Specialists have worked with many manufactures and industrial companies throughout Peterborough, Barrie, Kingston, and central Ontario. Give Sadie Bachynski a call if you have any questions, need advice or would like a quote for our services.

Stellar Line-Up for Reframe Festival

Cambium is a proud sponsor of this year’s Reframe Film Festival taking place in late January in Peterborough. We are sponsoring When Two Worlds Collide scheduled to screen on Sunday, January 29th at 2:30 PM at The Venue. http://reframefilmfestival.ca/film/when-two-worlds-collide/

This highly credited film received Best Documentary special mention at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival and a Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Reframe Film Festival passes can be purchased in-person at the GreenUP store (Peterborough), or Happenstance Books and Yarn (Lakefield), or online at http://reframefilmfestival.ca/buy-tickets/.

Cambium supports a number of charities, events, and groups in the communities we work. We believe strongly in giving back by supporting initiatives that support a healthy natural environment, charitable initiatives, and events.

Design Choices to Make a Community Walking and Cycling Friendly

Robert Voigt, an Ontario Professional Planner, and Cambium’s Senior  Project Manager of Community Development Services worked with the Town of Gravenhurst to develop an Age Friendly Active Transportation Plan.  The goal was to craft an action plan that would identify opportunities to make the community more walking and cycling friendly.

Rob developed a series of videos as a creative component of the community engagement process that highlight some components of an active transportation plan that can make any community more walking and cycling friendly.

Active Transportation Plans

Active Transportation plans are not just about networks and building infrastructure. It is about working with what you have and the capacity of the citizens and the municipality.  The video series  looks at:

  • Sidewalks – addressing connections and links to ensure the safety of pedestrians
  • Connections – connecting sidewalks and recreational trails to support active lifestyle and support people who want to get around on their own.
  • Street and Trees – street trees can make an environment more walking and cycling friendly.
  • Parklets and Pocket Parks – a great ways to enhance a business environment and make it more walking and cycling friendly.
  • Curb Extensions –health and safety of pedestrians and drivers.
  • Traffic Signals – important aspects of traffic signals to support accessibility.
  • Links to Roads and Sidewalks – connections between sidewalks and roads are a high priority to make it easier for people to navigate around the community.
  • Parking Areas and Connections – simple design choices to make parking areas and connections between developments active transportation and all ages friendly.
  • Bike Lanes – dedicates environments to safely ride bikes and support cyclists.
  • Community Design – landscaping, seating, and blank building walls should be considered at the community design stage to make environments more comfortable to walk.
  • Complete streets – consider all modes of transportation when designing and redeveloping streets to make it safer for everyone.

Rob Voigt is a Registered Professional Planner with over 17 years of experience in Canada and the US. His specialization lies in placemaking, citizen engagement, healthy community design, and active transportation. If you are looking at your community needs and have questions about active transportation  plans and healthy community design, connect with Rob and he can help navigate the process.

Tips to Prolong a Septic System Lifespan

Your septic (on-site wastewater treatment) system and some easy tips to prolong its lifespan and preserve your water quality.

On-site wastewater treatment systems, commonly referred to as septic systems, can be found at just about every rural residence or cottage.  An on-site wastewater treatment system is just that, a system that treats wastewater and is located on the same property as the building it services.  As many studies have concluded, ineffective septic systems directly affect water quality of lakes and rivers by adding nutrients to the system.

What Is An On-Site Wastewater Treatment System?

Most commonly, an on-site wastewater treatment system consists of a septic tank followed by a leaching bed; both sized accordingly based on the type of building it services.  A septic tank is ordinarily made of concrete or polyethylene and is buried near the building it services.  The role of the septic tank is to provide primary treatment by separating heavy solids (sludge) and lighter materials (oils and grease) from the sewage.  If a wastewater treatment system has been installed or upgraded since 2007, then the septic tank will also have an effluent filter on the outlet of the septic tank.  The effluent filter provides additional filtration of fine particles and further prevents scum from flowing into the leaching bed, prolonging the life of the bed.  Generally, the effluent then flows by gravity from the septic tank to a leaching bed that is developed based on the property area, soil characteristics, depth to groundwater, and distances to buildings, lakes, streams, property lines, and wells.  The leaching bed is typically made up of several equally spaced lengths of perforated PVC pipes which are laid in gravel overlying the native soil or imported sand.  The underlying soil dynamics are an important part of a septic system; the sewage effluent is treated by biological, chemical, and physical processes as it trickles from the leaching bed through the soil.  A wastewater treatment system designed in this fashion and in good working order has been demonstrated to provide excellent treatment of sewage protecting nearby lakes and rivers.

on-site wastewater treatment system

Cambium’s On-Site wastewater treatment system for a camp resort

on-site wastewater system Upgrades and Maintenance

Many wastewater treatment systems in Ontario are several decades old; however, this does not mean that the treatment system is no longer effective. Wastewater systems used only seasonally tend to last much longer than a wastewater system used year-round.  The lifespan of a wastewater treatment system initially set by the appropriateness of the design, technology, location, and construction of the system but proper maintenance and operation are equally important.

Since a wastewater treatment system is the responsibility of the property owner, it is up to you to ensure your wastewater treatment system is functioning properly in order to protect human health and the environment on and around your property, as well as prolong the life of your investment. For property owners that live near lakes or streams, this is especially important as malfunctioning septic systems can pollute both your drinking water and the lake or stream. Effluent is what the sewage treated by your septic system is called. Sewage is primarily composed of organic nutrients such as ammonia, nitrates, carbon, and phosphorus. Effluent that has been ineffectively treated by a malfunctioning septic system, disposes nutrient laden water into the ground and nearby water bodies. The nutrients act as a fertilizer increasing the rate of growth of water plants and algae, resulting the eutrophication (using up the oxygen) of lakes, which can be fatal to aquatic life like fish.

The following are some tips and minor upgrades that, if completed, will not only extend the life of your wastewater treatment system, but will make your system easier to service when needed:

  • Learn the components of your wastewater treatment systems and where they are;
  • Only have licenced contractors install, service, or repair your system and ask for proof of certification;
  • Have a licenced contractor add watertight sealed access risers to your septic tank lids;
  • Keep all records of service performed on your wastewater system;
  • Test your well water for bacteria regularly (consult your local health department for more information);
  • Have a licenced contractor inspect your septic tank every 3-5 years, and pump the septic tank if your scum and sludge is more than 1/3 of the volume of the tank;
  • Have a licenced contractor install an effluent filter;
  • Conserve water use and spread heavy water use appliances over the day;
  • Avoid pouring oils and grease down the drain;
  • Do not flush pharmaceuticals, chemicals, sanitary products, or paint;
  • Do not use a garburator;
  • Do not use special additives promising improved septic performance;
  • Do not encroach on the wastewater system with trees, buildings, vehicles, driveways, etc.; and,
  • Do not connect any rainwater downspouts, sump pumps, or water softeners to the wastewater treatment system.
  • Although not prominently visible, your on-site wastewater treatment system is a critical component of your home or cottage and must be maintained and cared for in order to prolong its lifespan, protect the lakes and rivers we enjoy, and protect your health. If renovating or building new, it is suggested that you contact a professional at the start of your project design to ensure your septic needs.

Septic on-site wastewater treatment system

Cambium’s new spectic system – onsite waterwater system.


 

Cambium’s professionals are experts in water and wastewater engineering. We have extensive experience with onsite wastewater treatment and water treatment programs. Our team has worked with a wide range of clients including school boards, campgrounds, resorts, commercial businesses, property developers, industrial users, municipalities and individual land owners throughout Peterborough, Barrie, Kingston, and central Ontario. Give us a call or email Kevin Warner or Stewart Dolstra, (our team page) if you have any questions, need advice or would like a quote for our services.