THE Environmental Management Authority (EMA) is urging the public to follow the revised water pollution rules.
At a webinar on Tuesday, it explained the importance of these rules, the criteria for permits, and enforcement of related laws, which includes charges and fees.
It said the rules were recently amended to enforce ambient water quality and protect aquatic life and the marine environment, among other things.
EMA environmental programme officer Lorraine Maharaj said the legislation was geared towards reducing, preventing and controlling the amount of pollutants that enter water courses.
“The rules were amended in 2019 because the fee structure associated with it were challenged legally. The fee structure was not in line with the 'polluter pays' principle, which states that the amount that a polluter should pay should be proportional to how much pollution is discharged. The 2001 rules were at a fixed rate, which means regardless of how much one polluted, everyone paid the same fee.
"The revised rules also provide an integrated approach to watershed management,” she said.
Maharaj said watershed management is necessary to fulfil both national and international policies and legislation such as the Vision 2030 plan and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. She added that the previous rules focused on point sources, which did not cater for the all-round management of watercourses.
Maharaj said the criteria for permits related to water discharges vary based on types of discharges, type of business, residential or commercial properties and where the water is being discharged.
“Discharges from households are exempt, (such as) water from bathrooms, kitchen sinks, unless a commercial business is operated from the house, for example a hairdressing salon,” she said. Permits have been issued to reduce the amount of pollutants and assist with compliance of the water pollution rules and are specific to each facility.
Environmental programme officer Vivian Joseph said, “There were three applications specific to the discharge. They can be categorised as manufacturing, industrial, commercial, institutional and mining operations; animal feeding operations and aquatic animal production facilities; and sewage treatment facilities.”
The EMA said an individual can be charged $5,000 for each violation and, in the case of continuing or recurrent violation, $1,000 per day for each instance until the violation is remedied or abated.
Further it said a $10,000 fine is issued to commercial enterprises or businesses operating from a house for each violation and, in the case of continuing or recurrent violations, $5,000 per day for each instance until the violation is remedied or abated. The EMA also warned that the facility can be closed if necessary or if rules are breached.