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Sewer By-law Review (Completed)

Throughout 2009 and 2010, we reviewed the existing Sewer By-law and proposed several changes. This work included seeking feedback from businesses and the public before a revised by-law update was submitted to City Council for consideration.

Note that this project is separate from the Sewer By-law update work completed in 2018.


Recommendations from the Clean Environment Commission (CEC) in 2003 to the Minister of Conservation led us to review the existing Sewer By-law 7070/97.

The recommendation stated that we should update our By-law to:

  • expand the list of restricted substances,
  • prevent disposal of contaminants of concern,
  • encourage treatment at source,
  • improve enforcement of the By-law, and
  • increase penalties for violations.

We prepared the draft by-law in user-friendly language and:

  • followed the recommendations made by the CEC,
  • followed the principles contained in a draft Model Sewer Use By-law produced by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment to help municipalities develop sewer by-laws,
  • used the Toronto Sewer By-law as a model and reviewed by-laws from eight other Canadian cities, and
  • referred to the National Pollutant Release Inventory set up under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to determine the pollutants to be restricted or controlled.

Frequently asked questions

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Draft Sewer By-law

We tried to make the limits in these schedules consistent with the most recent legislation and guidelines. As scientific information related to the effect of chemicals on the environment is always emerging, it is difficult to predict future requirements. We will give businesses a chance to review and comment on any future changes to the By-law.

The proposed rate will be a per kilogram charge for:

  • phosphorus in excess of 10 milligrams per litre
  • nitrogen in excess of 60 milligrams per litre

City Council must approve all rates and the start date for the rates.

The charges are to recover the extra cost to treat these substances to meet the Environment Act Licence conditions imposed on our three wastewater treatment plants. The West End wastewater treatment plant has already been upgraded to reduce both nitrogen and phosphorus, and a facility to partially reduce nitrogen and phosphorus at the North End plant has been completed. Plans are underway to upgrade both the North End and the South End plants so that they will fully meet licence conditions for the reduction of nitrogen and phosphorus.

We have sampled wastewater from some customers (e.g., non-household hauled wastewater customers and customers that are currently paying charges for biochemical oxygen demand and total suspended solids) and are able to identify customers that could possibly be charged for nitrogen and phosphorus in wastewater discharges. If the charges apply to your business, we will contact you once the charges have been finalized and the City's rate report is ready for Council review.

Yes. You can put a pre-treatment process in place that will reduce phosphorus and nitrogen. An engineering practitioner or environmental specialist can help you develop a plan.

Yes. The following cities/municipalities currently have charges for nitrogen and phosphorus:

  • Kamloops
  • Edmonton
  • Windsor
  • Toronto
  • Region of Peel
  • Brantford
  • Hamilton
  • Ottawa

Take leftover or expired prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicines to a pharmacy where they will be disposed of safely. For more information on how to dispose of toxic substances:

If your establishment puts cooking oil or grease down the drain, you are required to have a grease interceptor. If you have a grease interceptor, you will be required to have a Grease Interceptor Licence. Cooking oil and grease are costly to treat, so this licence is intended to help recover those costs. Large amounts of cooking oil or grease allowed to go down the drain can clog the sewer in your establishment and neighbouring sewers, and cause sewer backup. For more information:

No, the requirements are just more clearly stated than the wording in the existing By-law. Water from swimming pools, wading pools, hot tubs or spas is considered wastewater because it usually contains chemicals that could harm plants, fish and other aquatic life. For more information:

We are referring to the discharge of any substance that violates Schedules B, C, D, or E.

Our choice of enforcement method will depend on the type of violation, the severity of the violation, the contravention history of the violator, and other factors. We have a variety of enforcement options, which include:

  • warning or notice of By-law violation,
  • suspending or cancelling licences where these are required to use the City's sewer system,
  • issuing written orders to cease the contravention or to correct the By-Law violation within a specific time frame; if the order is ignored, we can take action to remedy the contravention and charge the costs of doing so to the property taxes, and
  • prosecution, resulting in fines and/or court orders.

If the review process continues on schedule, we expect the start date for the revised By-law to be January 1, 2011. This would provide sufficient time for customers to become familiar with the new By-law and take necessary action to comply with the new requirements.

Pollution prevention planning

We will contact you. You could, at some point, be required to submit a Pollution Prevention Plan, if your business falls within one of the business sectors listed in Schedule F, and discharges to the:

  1. wastewater system any of the prohibited substances listed in Schedule B,
  2. wastewater system any of the substances in excess of the concentration limits set out in Schedule C,
  3. land drainage system any of the prohibited substances listed in Schedule D, or
  4. land drainage system any of the substances in excess of the concentration limits set out in Schedule E.

You must:

  • submit your plan for our approval,
  • submit annual progress reports, and
  • update your plan once every five years to show progress towards your goals.

You can see typical examples of Pollution Prevention Plans in the documents and supporting information section.

You can see typical examples of a Best Management Practice in the documents and supporting information section.

We may be able to provide some business sectors with guidance in the form of Best Management Practice (BMP) Guidelines. For some businesses, these BMPs may provide sufficient information for the business owner to complete the Plan without additional assistance. However, larger, more complex businesses that will need to prepare Plans specific to their operation may require the assistance of either engineering or environmental consultants.

Yes. Dentists across Canada are required to implement Best Management Practices for the control of mercury from amalgams entering Canadian sewer systems.

  • Vancouver – waste discharge permits are required for restricted wastes and codes of practice are required for select sectors. Provisions exist for voluntary pollution prevention planning and the use of Best Available Technology for treatment of some wastewater discharges.
  • Edmonton – a “Permit to Release” and compliance program is required.
  • Calgary – has a voluntary Pollution Prevention Planning Program
  • Saskatoon – currently reviewing their Sewer Use By-law in conjunction with consultation with some industry sectors.
  • Toronto – has mandatory Pollution Prevention Planning requirements for specific sectors
  • Ottawa – discharge agreements, compliance programs or Best Management Practice plans are required
  • Hamilton – a compliance program is required
  • Windsor – considering the implementation of a Pollution Prevention Planning program
  • Kingston – a compliance program is required and a Best Management Practice plan may be required in some instances
  • Montreal – a discharge permit is required
  • Halifax – a compliance agreement is required
  • Winnipeg (current) – monitoring and enforcing Part 5 (Control of Discharges to Sewers) and Part 7 (Overstrength Wastewater Discharge Licence) of the existing By-law
  • Winnipeg (proposed) – adding new restrictions and prohibitions to substances discharged in wastewater, adding new restrictions and prohibitions to substances discharged into the land drainage system, and adding pollution prevention plan requirements for some business sectors

For more information
Contact the Environmental Standards Division's Industrial Waste Services Branch

Feedback (closed)

Comments were received until March 12, 2010.

We held two public meetings at the Masonic Memorial Temple, 420 Corydon Avenue:

  • Tuesday, February 9, 2010 (evening session)
  • Wednesday, February 10, 2010 (morning session)

Your input and our recommendations will be included in the report that goes forward to Council.

Last updated: April 15, 2024

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