Environmental Enforcement Officer - Niagara Region

Dominic Valentini

Nov. 17, 2017

Graduated from Brock University in 1991 with an Honors Degree in Geography, I also took several Environmental Studies courses to complement the Geography dominated degree.

This post submitted by Dominic Valentini via dayofgeography@gmail.com

I’ve been employed by Niagara Region for 20 yrs. My job title is Environmental Enforcement Officer. While the name is catchy, the job primarily focuses on Niagara's Sewer Use By-Law. This by-law, which outlines the limitations to which one can use the sanitary and storm sewers, is governed to monitor the wastewater discharge from industries into our sanitary sewers. The By-Law enforces strict guidelines and places numerical test limits on specific pollutants discharged into the sanitary sewer system.

Industrial effluent samples are collected and tested by our on-site lab. Analysis tests performed include heavy metals, oils and grease, organics, solids and volatile organics. The wastewater analysis is reviewed and I give direction to any industries that violate the by-law limits. I address violation notices and recommend strategies for the industries to alter or eliminate their over strength sewer discharge.

In addition to ensuring the industries and commercial sites meet by-law criteria, my job also involves responding to spills to the environment, namely through sanitary or storm sewers. I work closely with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment to respond to spills, assess the situation and impact to the environment and make sure resources are in place to clean up the spill to maintain the environments integrity.

Niagara Region maintains and operates 11 wastewater treatment plants, wastewater pumping stations and major sanitary sewers. Our wastewater treatment plant effluent (treated water) released back to the lake, river or Welland Canal must meet strict regulations as set by the Environmental Protection Act, Ontario Water Resources Act and the Ministry of the Environment.


Spill into Sewer

In order to protect our infrastructure (sewers, pump stations, treatment facilities), Niagara Region implemented the Sewer Use By-Law. My job is like the front line of defense. I must monitor all industrial activity with regards to sanitary discharge and comply with maintaining and protecting our sewage infrastructure and ensuring our treatment plants sustain optimal treated effluent conditions.

With respects to my university education, this job relies on a geographical background. The usage of sewer maps, both blueprint and digital, and knowledge of waterways such as rivers and creeks and their direction of flow and size of watersheds. We use our Niagara Region GIS program, "Niagara Atlas" every day to look at sanitary sewers (direction of flow, sewershed isolation, manhole depth, sewer gradient, volume capacity, flow). One needs a strong geographical sense when performing this particular job and the reward of knowing I helped to protect the environment is very satisfying.

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