Halifax Airport loses bid to delegate wastewater compliance for commercial tenants

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The Aerotech Wastewater Treatment Facility
The Halifax Aerotech Wastewater Treatment Facility had its processes disrupted when municipal servicer Halifax Water detected glycol in the wastewater. Photo Credit: Halifax Water

When municipal servicer Halifax Water detected glycol in the wastewater during the winter of 2015-2016, it disrupted processes at its Aerotech Wastewater Treatment Facility, which serves a nearby business complex and the Halifax International Airport.

Halifax Water determined that at least some of the glycol — an antifreeze formulation — was being discharged by Inland Technologies, a commercial tenant in the business of recovering and recycling glycol used in the de-icing of aircrafts. The company now has de-icing services at 20 civilian and military airports throughout Canada, the United States, and Europe.

In 2017, the Halifax Regional Water Commission threatened to stop accepting wastewater from the airport, but the Halifax International Airport Authority official filed a complaint in February of 2018 that argued enforcement and compliance of wastewater quality was Halifax Water’s responsibility, not the airport’s.

The complaint from the airport stated that, “Halifax Water acted unreasonably by refusing to ensure that tenants of the Airport Authority who receive services from the Airport Wastewater System, and who lease premises on Airport Lands outside of the main airport terminal building (External Tenants), comply with Halifax Water’s Schedule of Rates, Rules & Regulations for Water, Wastewater, and Stormwater Services (Rules).”

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On August 27, however, despite the hearing’s dissection of a prior settlement agreement, the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board ruled that it’s the responsibility of the airport, not Halifax Water, to ensure discharges from airport property into the Aerotech system are compliant with the water commission’s wastewater standards.

In closing submissions at the commission hearing, counsel for Halifax Water suggested that, “utilities generally viewed operation and maintenance activities as distinct from enforcement and compliance.”

Halifax Water estimated that it would cost $207,500 for the airport authority to make the necessary infrastructure changes that would enable it own regulatory enforcement for the business complex.

Part of the three-person Board’s ruling additionally stated: “The Board also finds that Halifax Water’s Rules do not require it to be primarily responsible for ensuring that the Airport Authority’s external tenants comply with the rules for discharges being made by them into the Airport Wastewater System, a system which is neither owned nor controlled by Halifax Water.”

Beginning in 2014, the Aerotech Wastewater Treatment Facility began some $21 million in upgrades. The facility can boost capacity from 1,000 m3 of sewage per day to 3,000 m3.

The Aerotech Business Park began in the 1980s as a speciality park targeting the aerospace industry and manufacturing. It’s located on about 2,400 acres of land immediately adjacent to the airport.

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