Sewer Use By-law update

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We're updating the Sewer Use By-law

The aim is to modernize the bylaw to ensure it continues to meet the needs of the Guelph community and aligns with industry best practices. The existing bylaw was adopted in 1996 and hasn't been amended since 2006. Since then, standards have changed and various proposed updates to the bylaw will help the City operate the sewer systems more effectively.

The bylaw helps make sure harmful pollutants (chemicals, oils, fats and grease, etc.) are managed properly to increase the life cycles of the wastewater and stormwater systems, reduce the cost of maintenance and help protect the Speed River and our environment.

This update will ensure the bylaw:

  • aligns with the latest industry standards and best management practices
  • complies with current federal and provincial regulations
  • is more user-friendly and organized in a way that is easy for both residents and City staff to utilize it

Some of the key areas of focus are:

  • requirements for:
    • food-related grease interceptors
    • vehicle and equipment service oil and grease interceptors
    • sediment interceptors
    • dental waste amalgam separator
  • sanitary and storm discharges
  • update of overstrength agreement formula
  • updated contaminant lists/schedules
  • swimming pools and hot tubs

We expect to bring the updated by-law with the accompanying report to Council in April 2023.

You can also find more information about Guelph's sewer system along with actions you can take to help prevent issues in the sewer system and protect our environment on the right-hand menu of this page.

Please stay tuned to this page for further project information and updates or visit the project page.

We're updating the Sewer Use By-law

The aim is to modernize the bylaw to ensure it continues to meet the needs of the Guelph community and aligns with industry best practices. The existing bylaw was adopted in 1996 and hasn't been amended since 2006. Since then, standards have changed and various proposed updates to the bylaw will help the City operate the sewer systems more effectively.

The bylaw helps make sure harmful pollutants (chemicals, oils, fats and grease, etc.) are managed properly to increase the life cycles of the wastewater and stormwater systems, reduce the cost of maintenance and help protect the Speed River and our environment.

This update will ensure the bylaw:

  • aligns with the latest industry standards and best management practices
  • complies with current federal and provincial regulations
  • is more user-friendly and organized in a way that is easy for both residents and City staff to utilize it

Some of the key areas of focus are:

  • requirements for:
    • food-related grease interceptors
    • vehicle and equipment service oil and grease interceptors
    • sediment interceptors
    • dental waste amalgam separator
  • sanitary and storm discharges
  • update of overstrength agreement formula
  • updated contaminant lists/schedules
  • swimming pools and hot tubs

We expect to bring the updated by-law with the accompanying report to Council in April 2023.

You can also find more information about Guelph's sewer system along with actions you can take to help prevent issues in the sewer system and protect our environment on the right-hand menu of this page.

Please stay tuned to this page for further project information and updates or visit the project page.

CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

We want to hear from you!  Ask us anything about the proposed Sewer use By-law changes, or share your feedback with us here.  

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    Hello I would like to ask what the city intends to do to clean up the storm drain discharge that directly enters the speed River at the stub end of Stone Rd where it meets college avenue. During rain events what usually looks like a clear stream turns into a torrent of dirty stormwater. There is so much force sediment that the discharge has actually impacted the forest on the other side of the river. Also if you view the aerial photos on the GRCA web page you can see how this discharge has altered the flow of the river because of sediment deposits. After spring snowmelt the discharge is even worse. Isn’t this discharge and alteration of the banks of the Speed an environmental violation? How does the City expect to improve or maintain the carrying capacity of the Speed for its sewage RX when this discharge is occurring downstream for the plant? I note that yet more impervious surface with its polluted runoff will now occur as the large apartment complex off Scottsdale was approved by Council. If you go to the parking lot at Stone rd in early spring you will see there mounds of dirty snow waiting to melt and end up in the Speed thru the stormwater outlet at the end of Stone Rd. Has the city thought about building some kind of holding area where snow from parking lots etc could be stored and treated? As the city becomes more dense the amount of polluted runoff will only increase how can it not. Anyway just my thoughts.

    Laura M asked about 1 year ago

    Hello Laura, thank you for your question. We forwarded your questions to Colleen, Infrastructure Planning Engineer who is working on the City's Stormwater Management Master Plan. Here is her answer:

    Thank you for raising your concerns about the water quality at this location. The outlet to the Speed River tributary at the location you have noted was constructed in the 80s, prior to the quality control requirements that we adhere to today. The City is actively studying and identifying opportunities where we can implement quality control measures in our existing built-up area. This location will be brought forward to the team for consideration as part of the Stormwater Management Master Plan. Further, this location has been studied during the watercourse erosion component of the SWM MP, and has been identified as an erosion site. During the next phase of our assignment, we will be preparing preliminary design solutions for the erosion sites. These will then be prioritized with the list of other stormwater management projects for implementation as part of the City’s capital plan over a number of years. 

    Regarding the Scottsdale complex – as part of the development application process, the applicant will be required to demonstrate to the City that they will maintain the existing water balance and quantity of runoff from the pre-development land cover condition. While the imperviousness has the potential to increase, the site will be required to control its runoff, minimizing impact to the downstream system.

    As for the snow melt question @ Stone Road we asked Prasoon the Supervisor of Environmental Engineering. 

    Yes there is a snow melt facility along highway 7 beside the Waste Water Treatment Plant. 

    The snow disposal facility has the following approved use. 

    • An outdoor snow disposal facility
    • Temporary storage of excess soil 
    • Temporary outdoor storage of materials generated through normal forestry practice such as tree trunks, brush and wood chips
    • Temporary outdoor storage of materials generated through normal horticultural practice such as plant materials, plant bedding materials and topsoil
    • Temporary storage of materials collected by street sweeping operations

    But this is only for city removed snow. Snow piles from commercial parking lots are the responsibility of the land owner and that is why they are typically piled on site. 

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    Swear charges are based on water usage as the assumption is I expect water must go down the sewer. However in the summer water usage goes up dramatically because of garden irrigation. None of this water goes down the sewer. It seems inappropriate to me to assign swear charges to the extra use of water in the summer. People without gardens don’t need to pay extra in the summer. Would it not be fairer to charge a higher fee in the winter and keep this higher fee during the summer and estimate that the amount of waste water going down the sewer is the same winter to summer.

    What is this asked over 1 year ago

    Hello, thanks for your question and sorry for our late response. We asked our colleague Matt the Manager of Business Services, Environmental Services. 

    Wastewater charges apply to all the water you use and water meters measure the total amount of water you use. The City doesn’t have separate meters to measure the amount of water that goes down your drain or toilet into the wastewater system, runs off your property into the storm sewer, or soaks into the ground. The cost of installing and reading those meters would exceed the savings for customers.

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    I think we should do more to reduce the amount of rain water that is going into the storm water system by encouraging depaving solutions, both for commercial and residential areas. This could come in the form of incentives (like the Royal Flush program) for depaving a driveway or parking lot. I would also like to see increased promotion of non-toxic cleaning solutions so that less chemicals are being used in our city. Additionally, how can we trap garbage that gets into the storm sewers before it enters the river system? Is there a way that we can use traps to catch garbage, that can be emptied regularly, so that water can go through but destructive waste, like plastics, that can degrade into micro-plastics, can be caught before they enter the river system?

    Amelia Meister asked almost 2 years ago

    Hi Amelia,

    Thanks for your feedback and sharing your ideas with us.

    You’re right – reducing the amount of rainwater entering our stormwater system is important.  We do offer stormwater service credits to Guelph businesses that invest in green infrastructure to address stormwater runoff, which can include de-paving or permeable paving.  For residents, there are rebates for rain harvesting tanks and rain gardens as well as discounts on rain barrels.

    As for toxic chemicals, if these chemicals are poured down storm drains it’s considered a spill and needs to be reported. The City offers a few different options for residents to dispose of hazardous materials, like harsh chemicals, correctly. Residents can drop off hazardous materials at the public waste drop-off, or a participating local retailer, for free and safe disposal. Residents can drop off and pick up leftover cleaning products and paint at the public waste drop-off free of charge. Residents can also download the Guelph Waste app or use the Waste Wizard on guelph.ca/waste to find out how to get rid of something properly.

    The City uses Oil and Grit Separators, underground devices to capture oil, litter, dirt, and debris from stormwater runoff, at key locations in the storm sewer system.  Filter strips, storm ponds and grass swales are other parts of Guelph’s stormwater management system that help protect our local waterways.  Further ideas to improve the system are being explored through the City’s Stormwater Master Plan.  We encourage everyone to participate and share their concerns and suggestions.

Page last updated: 17 Nov 2022, 11:58 AM