Wastewater treatment plant is required to be registered under the Lagos State Environmental Management and Protection Law, 2017 (the “Law”). The Law established the Lagos State Wastewater Management Office (the “Office”).
Wastewater treatment is a process used to remove contaminants from wastewater and convert it into an effluent that can be returned to the water cycle. Once returned to the water cycle, the effluent creates an acceptable impact on the environment or is reused for various purposes (called water reclamation)
Put more plainly, wastewater treatment means that wastewater is passed through a septic tank, filtered, and disinfected with ozone treatment and the separated and purified water from wastewater is then reused for non-consumptive uses
Wastewater is defined under the law to mean spent water including all faecal matter from toilet flush, urinal, kitchen, bathroom, laundry wastewater and soak away leachates from all premises both public and private.
Certification of Wastewater treatment plant
The Law authorizes the Office to register, certify and renew licenses and permits in respect of Wastewater Treatment Plants (the “Facility”) owned and operated within Lagos State as well as to establish and review water management charges in respect of any Facility within the State.
From the year 2017 when the Office began its public service, all existing Facility became register able while yet to be constructed Facility required the Office’s permit to begin and complete engineering, procurement and construction.
Upon registration or certification, the permit for the Facility is renewable every 12 (twelve) calendar months from the date of issue subject to payment of a prescribed fee.
For any holder of a valid permit or an operator of a Facility that seeks to reconstruct, expand or in any manner to increase capacity of a building that is serviced by a Facility, the Law requires a permit.
A permit for expansion or reconstruction applies to expansion or reconstruction of any Facility within Lagos State.
Applicable fees for certification of Wastewater treatment plan
The Office is enabled by the Law to charge application or certification fees with certain penalties for default. In our view, there is no provision in the Law that suggests retrospective payments for any default in registration and application for a permit to operate a Facility in Lagos State.
In the absence of any such provisions in the Law that authorizes the Office to charge fees for permit in arrears in respect of default or any provisions for default to certify wastewater treatment plants, it is unlawful and unenforceable for the Office to charge default fees, in arrears, under the Law.
The section on default (Section 306 of the Law) is silent on penalty or fine for late registration or non-registration of any Facility.
Customarily, the Office relies on subsection (8) of Section 306 of the Law (the “Subsection”) to demand ₦2, 500, 000 as penalty for “failure to certify waste treatment plant for the year” in addition or as incentive to for payment of default fees.
Relying on established rules which the Courts are enjoined to employ in interpreting legislations and documents, such as contextual reading; community reading; ordinary reading or; reading to discover legislative intention, and we do not consider that the Subsection could be reasonably stretched to apply to any default in applying for and registering a Facility for any year.
Operators of wastewater treatment plants are under obligation to register their Facility in Lagos State, yet, any non-compliance, in our view, is not an offence envisaged under the Subsection, therefore, non-certification in any year is not an offence under the Subsection.
We find justification for our opinion, in this respect, in Section 300 of the Law that authorizes the Office to revoke a permit as a consequence of non-compliance to any provisions of the Law, where an offence is not provided, until such non-compliance is remedied.
An example will be where you are licenced to operate a Facility that serves a number of buildings and you add a greater number of buildings without a permit from the Office. If licensed, your permit stands revoked until you comply with the requirement of the Law to obtain certificate or permit for any alteration of the Facility or expansion of building serviced by your Facility.
The Office cannot claim any outstanding payments for non-certification for any years as due and payable to it under Law.
Procedure for application for wastewater treatment plant
Any application for wastewater treatment plant is to be addressed to the Executive Secretary, Lagos State Water Regulatory Commission and, the Office will provide the applicant with list of supporting documents.
The following supporting documents are listed on the Office Facebook page include:
- Certification of effluent quality (to comply with stipulated standards);
- Certification of performance efficiency of the plants and equipment;
- Certification of plants operator proficiency;
- Baseline system efficiency and performances evaluation report and six (6) month system efficiency and performance evaluation report for existing plants;
- Certification of mini laboratory equipment (PH) meter, turbidity meter, and thermometer, total dissolved solid/ conductivity meter, dissolved oxygen meter;
- System efficiency and performance evaluation report
We note that all required documents must be duly endorsed by a Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) registered Engineer in one of the following disciplines; Civil, Mechanical, Water Resources with bias Environmental, Water and Wastewater and with 10 years cognate experience as part requirements for the signatory.