Is your condominium planning to discharge water into a municipal sewer system?
If you find yourself nodding “yes” “maybe” or simply, “I don’t know” to this question, you should become familiar with Chapter 681 of the City of Toronto’s Municipal Code, more commonly known as, “the Sewers By-law”.
Under the Sewers By-law, a condominium corporation is prohibited from discharging “private water” into a sanitary sewer, combined sewer and/or storm sewer system without: (i) a permit or (ii) a discharge agreement.
So now you are probably wondering—what exactly is “private water”?
Simply put, private water means any water not purchased from the City. It includes groundwater, surface water, rainwater, storm water and construction dewatering.
In order to discharge private water into the City’s sewer systems, condominiums will need authorization—either in the form of a permit or discharge agreement—from the General Manager of Toronto Water.
Whether a permit or discharge agreement is required will depend on the duration and cost of the discharge activity.
Where the discharge activity is short-term (i.e. less than one year) and the anticipated fees do not exceed $20,000, a permit will be issued. Examples of short-term discharging activities may include site remediation work or construction dewatering.
Where the discharge activities are long-term (i.e. more than one year) and the anticipated fees exceed $20,000, a discharge agreement will be required. Long term approval in the form of a discharge agreement will be granted for 1 year terms and may be subject to renewal.
Before approval can be granted for the discharge of private water, condominium corporations will be required to provide detailed information, plans, reports, studies and records to ensure that the water being discharged from their property meets the specifications and limits set out in the Sewers By-law. The approval of such applications can take up to 8 to 12 weeks, at minimum.
The City also imposes fees on the discharge of private water to a sanitary or combined sewer system, but not for the discharge of private water to a storm sewer system. However, if the discharge of private water into a storm sewer system indirectly gets discharged to a sanitary and/or combined sewer system, the City will impose a fee on the discharge.
Failure to comply with any provision of the Sewers By-law is an offence and penalties could be imposed on the Corporation and individual directors. Fines up to $50,000 are imposed for a first offence and up to $100,000 for subsequent offences. In addition to fines, the City’s general enforcement powers includes restraining orders, orders to discontinue, and remedial action.
You can read more about the Sewers By-law at https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/municode/1184_681.pdf