Warning letters - notifies a company or individual that they have contravened a section of the Water Act, Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act or environmental regulations and provides a description of the contravention. The letter becomes part of the compliance history of the company or individual and is taken into account should any future contraventions occur.

Administrative penalties - issued in order to penalize the offender and deter future non-compliance. They are primarily educational in nature, with a monetary penalty to reinforce the appropriate change in behaviour. The type of contraventions for which administrative penalties are available, the factors to be considered in assessing the penalty and the penalty amounts are set out in the Water Act's Offences and Penalties Regulation and Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act's Administrative Penalty Regulation.

Ticket - a prosecution used to deal with smaller offences. The regulations under the Provincial Offences and Procedures Act outline the offences for which tickets may be issued and specifies the penalty for each offence. Upon being issued a ticket and within the time limit stated in the ticket, the accused may:

  • plead guilty and pay the fine to the appropriate court without making a court appearance,
  • appear in court, plead guilty but request a lesser fine or additional time to pay, or
  • submit a not guilty plea. This will result in a trial.

Enforcement order - issued to compel a regulated party to remedy a contravention of its approval, and, where appropriate, requires a party to take action(s) to prevent future contraventions.

Environmental protection order - used to prevent and stop contraventions of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act and ensure action is taken to fix environmental problems.

Water management order - issued to prevent or stop contraventions under the Water Act and to ensure action is taken to fix environmental problems.

Investigation - the process by which evidence is gathered to substantiate or dismiss an allegation that an offence has been committed. Under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act and the Water Act, investigations begin when there are reasonable grounds to believe that an offence has occurred. The investigation will substantiate or dismiss an alleged contravention based on evidence admissible for enforcement responses.

Prosecution - a legal proceeding against a company or individual. Prosecution is pursued when the seriousness of an offence warrants and is considered punitive in nature. Alberta Environment and Parks conducts the investigation, but Alberta Justice determines whether a prosecution proceeds. The decision to go forward is based on whether there is a reasonable expectation of conviction and whether it is in public interest to proceed.