When wastewater discharges exceed certain limits or contain prohibited substances, a facility may have the option of entering into an agreement with the City to bring their discharge into compliance with the By-law. The agreements outline the conditions that must be met and provide for the recovery of treatment costs. Four types of agreements may be available to dischargers in the City of Ottawa:
- Special discharge agreements
Facilities wishing to discharge non-toxic waste that exceeds the discharge limits for substances that can be treated at the wastewater treatment plant can apply to the City for a Special Discharge Agreement. Treatable substances include suspended solids, biochemical oxygen demand, total phosphorus and total Kjeldahl nitrogen. These are the only parameters that can be exceeded under these types of agreements. The discharge must comply with all other By-law limits. The agreement outlines monitoring and reporting requirements and provides for the recovery of additional treatment costs.
- Sanitary sewer agreements
Discharges of liquid material that comes from a source other than the municipal water system, such as remediated groundwater, will require a Sanitary Sewer Agreement. Under specific conditions, the agreement will allow the discharge of the wastewater to the sanitary or combined sewer system. The agreement outlines monitoring and reporting requirements and a fee is levied against the facility to cover the cost of conveying and treating the wastewater.
Anyone wishing to discharge this type of material to the sewage works must make their request in writing to Sewer Use Program staff and provide recent analytical results. The discharge must meet by-law limits and volume restrictions may be imposed on the discharge where warranted by conditions in the sewer.
- Leachate agreements
The By-law generally prohibits the discharge of waste disposal site leachate to the sewage works. Under specific circumstances and conditions, leachate may be discharged to the sewer or hauled to the Robert O. Pickard Centre for treatment. Anyone wishing to discharge leachate to the sewage works must make their request in writing to Sewer Use Program staff and provide recent and historical analytical results of the leachate. If approved, the disposal of the leachate is subject to the terms and conditions of a discharge agreement. This includes payment of additional treatment costs and self-monitoring and reporting requirements.
Agreements contain special requirements beyond those outlined. For further details, or to initiate the approval process, contact a Sewer Use Program representative at 613-580-2424, ext. 23326.
Request to discharge wastewater
Facilities discharging wastewater, that exceeds By-law limits, can request the implementation of a compliance program. The objective of the compliance program is to allow the site discharger time to bring the discharge within the requirements of the Sewer Use By-law while providing the facility with sufficient time to implement the required corrective action. The compliance program sets conditions and timeframes under which the facility may be allowed to discharge the waste to the sanitary or combined sewer.
The compliance program is in effect for a specified length of time. During this time, the facility plans, designs, constructs, installs or implements the required equipment and practices to bring their discharges into compliance.
Facilities will be required to assess the quality of their wastewater and provide a progress report for each of the compliance program activities they have undertaken. The program is in line with pollution prevention as it emphasizes source reduction and encourages facilities to implement waste reduction practices.
As part of a compliance program, facilities may bring their discharge into compliance by implementing one or more of the following activities:
- Change a process, method or technique to reduce, avoid or eliminate the generation of hazardous waste
- Install pre-treatment equipment to remove contaminants from wastewater before it is discharged into the sewer system
- Substitute materials and chemicals to reduce or eliminate the use of hazardous materials
- Recycle waste materials or specific chemicals for reuse within the existing processes or operations. By recycling and utilizing waste materials, facilities can realize long-term economic and social benefits.
- Improve maintenance and operational procedures to avoid equipment breakdown that may result in contaminant discharges into drains and sewers
Self-monitoring and reporting requirements
Self monitoring may help with early-identification of a spill or an unusual discharge and assist with timely correction. Dischargers may be required to sample their wastewater at a suitable location determined by the Compliance Officer and report the results to the Sewer Use Program on a regular basis.
Dischargers may be required to provide Compliance Officers with information regarding operation of their facility, including a description of process operations, names and quantities of materials stored on site, diagrams and maintenance records.
Best management practices plans
Best management practices (BMPs) outline operating standards for an industrial sector. They contain detailed requirements for special handling of waste, and minimum requirements for the installation of pre-treatment equipment, maintenance and record keeping. They may also include pollution prevention initiatives, good housekeeping practices, training requirements, fire safety measures and emergency response procedures. Under specific conditions, exemptions or variances may be provided for some by-law limits if the facility is operating in accordance with an approved BMP.
BMPs contain special requirements beyond those outlined in this publication. For further details, or to initiate the approval process, contact a Sewer Use Program representative at 613-580-2424, ext. 23326.
Spills and unusual discharges
Every person or facility that accidentally discharges prohibited waste into the sewer system or discharges material which is not normally discharged regardless of the quantity, must notify a representative of the Sewer Use Program immediately at 613-580-2424 ext. 23326, during regular business hours. Call 3-1-1 outside of regular business hours. These reporting requirements are in addition to any other legal reporting requirements.
When reporting a spill or unusual discharge (termed 'event'), you are required to provide the following information:
- Location where the event occurred
- Names and phone number of the person who discharged or deposited the waste and the person who reported the event
- The date and time of the event
- Type and volume of material discharged or deposited, and any associated hazards
- Corrective actions being taken to control the discharge
The person must do everything reasonably possible to contain the event, minimize damages and clean up the event. The City is authorized to undertake the remediation and recover any associated costs from those responsible if this does not occur.
The person responsible for the discharge or deposit is also required to submit a written report to the Sewer Use Program within five days following the event.
In addition to the information outlined above, the report must describe:
- The material spilled
- The characteristics of the material
- The duration of the discharge
- The work completed or still in progress to mitigate the event
- The preventative measures to avoid recurrence of a similar event in the future
The favoured approach to dealing with violations of the Sewer Use By-law is to enlist cooperation and commitment from the discharger to address and correct non-compliance. Failure to resolve an issue within a reasonable time frame is met with escalated enforcement, including the issuance of a Notice of Violation, ticket, permit suspension or revocation, as well as prosecution. The Sewer Use By-law has provisions for fines in the event of conviction.
Sewer use fines
First offence (maximum)
Second offence (maximum)
If you have knowledge of a spill or unusual discharge to the sewer system, please call a representative of the Sewer Use Program at 613-580-2424 ext. 23326, or contact 3-1-1. Your identity will be kept confidential. Compliance officers will investigate and follow up to see that corrective actions are taken.