5 Key Insights into the Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA) Regulations

land development

The Consolidated Linear Infrastructure Environmental Compliance Approval (CLI-ECA) is a new process governed by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks. With the new laws and regulations governing land development and infrastructure, it’s important for municipalities and their stakeholders to understand these guidelines and effectively follow them.

Below, we outline five key insights into the new regulations that will help municipalities be proactive, identify risks, optimize their systems, and set up programs to better manage costs.

1. Streamlining the CLI-ECA Approach 

wastewater management

The CLI-ECA process is meant to streamline future ECA applications via the pre-authorization of certain low-risk sanitary and stormwater infrastructure works.

These works can include:

  • Alterations to existing infrastructure
  • Additions of new infrastructure to the system

As long as the relevant criteria are met, municipalities and developers can get pre-approval and authority to alter and add infrastructure.

Municipalities, however, will have to learn to navigate the ECA application process, which may take time and it may be difficult for municipalities to obtain the appropriate ECA files.

Collecting the appropriate information—especially information for infrastructure from vintages that pre-date digital record keeping—will require new systems and processes to facilitate the collection and management of this information. New studies may also be needed. After this transition period, however, developers and municipalities will be able to benefit from the streamlined process, reducing regulatory burdens, enhancing environmental protection, improving oversight on property development, and a refining the compliance process. 

2. Standardization Across the Provinces


Ontario is adopting these CLI-ECA regulations, and The Ministry of Environment (MEC) has created clear design criteria for municipalities and developers to follow for certain types of collection system additions/alterations. This will make asset management planning simpler in the future.

The regulations will be introduced to municipalities in Ontario in a phased approach and complying with the CLI-ECA regulations will be mandatory. Compliance will be based on a series of factors, such as the municipality’s size and population.

Overall, these regulations should reduce uncertainty and help improve the safety and resilience of infrastructure across the province. As it is, each municipality typically has its own set of challenges and processes. With standardization, sanitary and stormwater systems will become more uniform across the province and make work on related infrastructure more reliable and accurate. These regulations were crafted after consultations with members of the public, industry insiders, conservation authorities, NGOs, and municipalities, and once municipalities and developers are able to navigate the system, they should experience the benefit of a streamlined approval process.

3. Funding, Assistance, and Internal Advocacy

While the estimated cost for the CLI-ECA application fee is only $100, municipalities may experience challenges when it comes to collecting the information required for the application. In addition, municipalities may need to dedicate time and attention to collect the information required to complete the ECA application, which may highlight some key data gaps.

Municipalities have the option of applying for provincial and federal grants, among others, to help fund projects related to asset-related data collection and reporting, as well as other asset management-related activities.

The CLI-ECA regulations also highlight the importance for increased advocacy of sanitary and stormwater system projects within municipalities and support from the province. Sanitary and stormwater infrastructure projects often compete for support and budget against higher-profile infrastructure projects (e.g., transportation, community buildings, and parks). As a result, industry organizations and advocacy groups need to continue working with various levels of government to ensure sanitary and stormwater system initiatives are brought to the forefront.

4. Getting a Better Understanding of Sanitary and Stormwater Assets

sewer inspection

Alongside the Asset Management Planning for Municipal Infrastructure (O.Reg 588/17) regulations, the CLI-ECA regulations highlight a need for a deeper understanding of sanitary and stormwater system assets. It’s important for municipalities and developers to have a comprehensive knowledge of various infrastructure information including:

  • Type of assets
  • Replacement costs
  • Lifecycle assessments
  • Condition
  • Age
  • Location

Gathering all this information can be troublesome, costly, and time-consuming. But with the right asset management plan, stormwater/wastewater master plan, and other studies, municipalities can more effectively glean all necessary information.

5. Meeting ECA Requirements with a “Smart City” Approach

Smart City

Some key components of the CLI-ECA requirements include document management, asset inspection, and asset monitoring, which create vast amounts of data. As a result, numerous software platforms can help manage the data and provide stakeholders with access to the collected data almost instantly.

With a “Smart City” approach, the systems can be integrated with geographic information systems (GIS) that capture, store, and display information about the network. For instance, a centralized cloud-based platform can be used for all flow monitoring activities and utilize dashboard displays to show various KPIs. It can also display sensor status, operational performance, and flag areas of concern within a system.

GIS-integrated platforms enable users to view inspection and monitoring activities (among others) that link geographic information with detailed displays of relevant documents and asset management activities. The integration of a Smart City approach to infrastructure operation, maintenance, and planning is vital to the future decision-making process for municipalities.

Contact Civica Infrastructure to Learn More about the New ECA Regulations

Civica is a leader in water management solutions. Our expertise spans across sanitary and storm sewer systems as well as natural watershed asset planning and asset management. Click here for more information about the Consolidated Linear Infrastructure Environmental Compliance Approval (CLI-ECA) and what the regulations mean for your municipality. Or contact us today for a free consultation.

Learn More At: 

10 Key Insights Into The New Systemwide Sanitary ECA Regulations

Environmental Compliance Approval Regulations: Universal Key Takeaways

10 Key Insights Into The New Systemwide Stormwater ECA Regulations