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Sewer Use Bylaw

The City of Saskatoon Sewer Use Bylaw 5115 regulates the use of the public sewage works and provides for the levying and collection of a charge for the use of the public sewage works. 

The Bylaw, created in 1971, no longer meets Saskatoon’s needs. The City’s population has doubled, our industrial and commercial sectors have grown, and new Provincial and Federal laws have been introduced. It is time to update the Bylaw to meet current economic and environmental demands. 

City Council instructed Administration to begin drafting a new Sewer Use Bylaw based on the principle of source control management. 

What is Source Control Management and why is it important?

The Sanitary Sewer System

With source control management, harmful substances are prohibited from entering the sanitary sewer system or the quantity permitted to enter the system is limitedThe City sanitary collection system can be viewed as a large funnel with over 75,000 discharge connections culminating at the wastewater treatment plant. It can be very difficult to remove substances from the wastewater stream once they enter the sanitary sewer system, therefore steps must be taken to address the discharge of substances at their source.

The goal is to reduce discharges that present a risk to persons, property, and the environment. Source control management will help reduce harmful substances discharged from industrial, commercial, and institutional (ICI) dischargers before they enter the sanitary sewer system.

 How you can help us

  1. Ensure your discharge practices are in agreement with the requirements of the bylaw;
  2. Regularly inspect and maintain any pre-treatment equipment used in your facility and record the results of these activities; and
  3. Develop a management plan to prevent harmful substances from inadvertently entering the sanitary sewer system. 

What are the changes in the new Sewer Use Bylaw?

The new bylaw is more specific about what substances can be discharged into the wastewater system and how wastewater system users have to manage their discharge.

Limited and Prohibited Substances

The Limited and Prohibited Substances Program is the umbrella for the Source Control Management and associated education programs. All sanitary sewer users are expected to ensure that discharges into the sanitary sewer system are in accordance with the Bylaw, including restrictions set out in the limited and prohibited substance list.

The list of prohibitions include substances which are known to have an immediate adverse effect and include radioactive materials, pesticides, and materials which may lead to blockages.

Limited substances include parameters which can cause potential harm at elevated concentrations. Such substances can further divided into three categories:

  • Conventional – these substances can be treated at the wastewater treatment plant, but at elevated concentrations they place additional stress on the civic infrastructure.
  • Inorganics – these substances are elemental and cannot be treated for and pass directly through the treatment process and are released into the environment.
  • Organic – organic substances can pose a variety of risks at elevated concentrations including fume, toxicity, and explosivity risks. They also pose a risk to treatment operations by causing an inhibitory effect on biological processes and reduce the lifespan of the collection infrastructure.  

List of Limited and Prohibited Substances

NOTE: the current list of limited and prohibited substances has not been formally adopted through bylaw and is subject to change when the new bylaw is proclaimed. The list presented above is to serve for educational purposes so that users of the sanitary sewer system can be proactive in managing the quality of their wastewater in advance of the new bylaw. 

Special Discharges

Businesses that wish to discharge a limited or prohibited substance to the sanitary sewer system for a limited period of time can submit an application for a special discharge permit. This program also applies to sources of wastewater originating from a source other than that purchased from the City excluding liquid waste haulers [Link to liquid waste haulers page].

Special Discharge Application

Fats, Oil, and Grease (FOG)

The National Plumbing Code of Canada requires the installation of grease interceptors where a plumbing fixture discharges sewage that includes FOG and is located in a public kitchen, in a restaurant, or in a care or detention occupancy. The most effective means of ensuring FOG is kept out of the sanitary sewer system is routine inspection and maintenance of grease traps.

Owners of grease interceptors are expected to keep records of inspection and maintenance.

FOG Information Sheet

FOG Poster

FOG Maintenance Record

Grit Oil/Water Separators

The National Plumbing Code of Canada require an approved interceptor be installed where a fixture may discharge sand, grit, or may contain oil or gasoline. Such interceptors are commonly found in equipment and vehicle wash operations, automotive repair operations, carpet cleaning operations, and other such industries that may discharge sand, grit, petroleum products or other chemical substances.

Owners of such pre-treatment facilities are expected to keep records of inspection and maintenance.

Grit Oil/Water Information Sheet

Grit Oil/Water Maintenance Record

Dental Amalgam

In 2001, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment released the Canada-Wide Standard on Mercury for Dental Amalgam Waste in an effort to reduce waterborne emissions of mercury. As of January 1st, 2008, The Dental Disciplines Act – Bylaws (2010) requires members of the College of Dental Surgeons of Saskatchewan to have a functioning International Standards Organization (ISO) approved amalgam separator.

Owners of dental amalgam separators are expected to keep records of inspection and maintenance.

Dental Amalgam Information Sheet

Dental Amalgam Maintenance Record

Surcharge Program

The Surcharge Program levies a surcharge on industries that discharge wastewater with excess concentrations of the following substances:

  • Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD);
  • Total Suspended Solids (TSS);
  • Oil and Grease; and 
  • Total Phosphorous.

Industries on the surcharge program have their wastewater sampled and tested over a period of six months. The results of this analysis are used to calculate a surcharge rate which is applied as a separate item on your utility statement. The Surcharge rate serves as a multiplier on the water consumption of the facility and is applied each year on March 1st and September 1st.

 Sewer Use Bylaw 5115

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is a new Sewer Use Bylaw needed?
Sewer Use Bylaw 5115 was created in 1971 and does not address current environmental standards.  The new Bylaw will implement source control measures and allow the City to better regulate what businesses may discharge into the sanitary sewer system.

Without source control management the City faces four main risks:

  1. Potential to damage or block the sewer collection system which can lead to service disruptions, costly maintenance, and risk to both private and public property;
  2. Disrupt or inhibit treatment operations at the wastewater treatment plant which creates a risk to the City’s compliance with its own regulatory obligations;
  3. Some substances cannot be treated practically at the plant level and may pass directly through to the environment;
  4. Risk to worker or public health and safety.

What are the benefits of the new bylaw? 
The new bylaw will help protect sanitary sewer system infrastructure and public and private property from damage related to inappropriate discharges, protect City employees from exposure to harmful wastes, and reduce the risk of upsetting the waste treatment process and inadvertently releasing harmful substances into the environment within the final products of the Wastewater Treatment Plant. 

How can discharges be harmful? 
Some discharges may be flammable, corrosive, reactive, or toxic which could cause corrosion and damage to equipment and upset wastewater treatment processes. Fat, oil, and grease discharges can build up in the sewer line and create blockages that lead to overflows into businesses, and homes.  Large amount of grit and sand in the sanitary system can also cause damage to infrastructure.

Who is affected by the new bylaw?
The majority of discharges that represent a risk to the City are created by the industrial, commercial, institutional (ICI) sector (i.e. businesses).  Potential risks from these dischargers can be minimized through proactive management of wastewater quality.

When will the new bylaw take effect? 
Implementation for the new Sewer Use Bylaw is scheduled for 2018 at which point the City’s EPOs will conduct periodic site visits of dischargers in the industrial, commercial, and institutional (ICI) sectors. The intent of the site visit is to evaluate discharge practices and the potential for harmful substances to enter the sanitary sewer system.

How do you know if you are compliant with the bylaw?
Education for users of the sanitary sewer system is critical to the success of the source control management approach. Source control programs have been developed to clarify what substances can be released into the sanitary sewer system and what behaviours are acceptable.

Educational materials have been developed to advise inspection and maintenance frequency of pre-treatment devices such as grease traps, oil/water separators, grit interceptors, and dental amalgam separators.

The City’s Environmental Protection Officers (EPOs) are available to assist you in evaluating if your discharge practices are in compliance with bylaw requirements.

What happens if you are not compliant with the bylaw?
The City of Saskatoon wants to work with you to ensure we can protect public safety, our infrastructure, and our environment. A collaborative approach will establish a reasonable timeframe working towards achieving compliance and will reflect the severity of the infraction and the history of compliance.

Are residents affected by the new Sewer Use Bylaw?
Residential discharges typically consist of domestic waste. The sanitary sewer system is designed to handle these types of waste, so the bylaw won’t have a substantial impact on most ordinary residential users.  However, the bylaw will have a variety of enforcement tools to deal with improper discharges from residences and other atypical residential user behaviour.  All dischargers are expected to comply with the bylaw. The City does intend to create an education program for residents.

What are the benefits of using Source Control Programs?
Having Source Control Programs in place will help eliminate discharges/contaminants from institutional, industrial and commercial businesses at the source before they enter the sanitary sewer system.  The programs will outline procedures to manage discharges into the sanitary sewer system for the benefit of the environment ultimately receiving the discharge and to affordably manage the sewage works over the long-term.