Why is the City of Sarnia updating its Sewer Use By-Law?

    The City’s current Sewer Use Bylaw was passed in 1993 and is now 27 years old.  It requires updating to apply current knowledge for effective management of the City's Wastewater Works. Updating the bylaw is a proactive and fiscally responsible initiative to safeguard City infrastructure, public health, property and the environment, now and into the future.

    What do the key changes emphasize?

    • reflect current best practices and science
    • protect the quality of the bio-solids and the effluent at the City’s Water Pollution Control Centre (WPCC)
    • ensure protection of the natural/aquatic environment
    • add clarity for enforcement
    • provide greater protection of infrastructure and health and safety.

    Who does Sewer Use By-Law regulate?

    The proposed Sewer Use By-Law regulates all users: residential, industrial, commercial and institutional.

    What is municipal wastewater?

    Municipal wastewater is liquid waste and can be divided into two categories:

    1. sanitary sewage from homes, businesses, institutions and industries;
    2. stormwater from rain or melting snow that drains off rooftops, lawns, roads, and other urban surfaces and properties.

    Why is wastewater from commercial and institutional properties a concern?

    Commercial and institutional wastewater includes, but is not limited to, beauty salons, restaurants, furniture refinishing, supermarkets, hotels or auto body repair shops and various types of institutions. Quite often discharges from these properties come from non-domestic sources.  This wastewater may contain hazardous materials from activities preformed on the property and requires monitoring to ensure discharges do not damage or interfere with the wastewater treatment process and to protect public health.

    Why is wastewater from food service operations a concern specifically?

    Operations that prepare food for public consumption routinely have wastewater with high amounts of fats, oils and grease (FOG). Many have grease traps/interceptors installed, but they may not be sized correctly, have the right kitchen fixtures plumbed to them or be inspected and maintained frequently enough to effectively keep FOG from entering the sanitary sewer. FOG and other discharged food waste are responsible for:

    • Sanitary sewer blockages
    • Sewer backups that pose a risk to the public and the environment
    • Fouling of sanitary sewer pipes and pump stations
    • Increased sanitary sewer system maintenance
    • Increased wastewater treatment costs.Sewer pipe plugged from FOG

    Why is wastewater from vehicle wash or mechanical repair operations a concern specifically?

    Operations that repair or maintain vehicles, engines, transmissions or other mechanical devices can have difficulty managing oil, grease, solvents, metals and solids.  Oil/water and sediment interceptors must be appropriately sized, installed, inspected and maintained to prevent discharge of these substances which can cause:

    • Sanitary sewer blockages and backups
    • Damage to sanitary sewer infrastructure
    • Dangerous conditions in the sanitary sewer system
    • Discharge of substances that can’t be effectively treated to local waterbodies
    • Sediment and oil/water interceptors must meet efficiency standards, be properly sized and plumbed for the operation, and maintained to ensure effective source controls.

    Why is wastewater from industrial properties a concern?

    Wastewater discharges from industrial sources may contain pollutants at levels that could affect the quality of receiving waters or interfere with the Wastewater Works that receive those discharges.  

    Those industrial effluents that contain appreciable amounts of both inorganic and organic chemicals and their byproducts generally have pretreatment before discharge.  Many industrial discharges in Sarnia are discharge into the natural environment and are regulated by the Ministry of the Environment, Parks and Conservation (MECP) under an Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA).

    Although Sarnia's Wastewater Pollution Control Centre (WPCC) was engineered to treat domestic wastewater, there are some industries that directly discharge to the City's Wastewater Works via the Sanitary Sewer system. These industries are those that are regulated by the City of Sarnia's Sewer Use By-Law.  It is important to monitor and regulate those discharges into the City's Wastewater Works to ensure that the discharges do not damage City infrastructure or interfere with the treatment process at the Water Pollution Control Centre (WPCC).

    How will the Sewer Use By-Law be enforced?

    The proposed Sewer Use By-Law allows for a stepped enforcement approach, beginning with education, and may included further steps as necessary:

    • Verbal or written warning or notice of by-law violation, depending on the severity of circumstance;
    • Written orders directing action(s) to be taken;
    • Municipal Ticketing with fines;
    • Cost recovery - the City will take action to remediate the contravention that has not been addressed and the cost will be directed to the property owner via the tax roll;
    • Charges; which will include time in a court of law. 

    Who will enforce the Sewer Use By-Law?

    The Sewer Use By-Law will be enforced under the direction of the City's General Manager of Engineering and Operations and will be expanded to include trained authorized staff. The City's By-Law Enforcement Department will provide backup enforcement where complex issues arise or when necessary.   

    Are there repeals to any current City of Sarnia By-Laws?


    1. By-Law 4 of 1993 “Sewer Use By-Law” shall be repealed on the date this By-Law comes into force and effect.

    2. Sections 5 and 6 of By-Law 3 of 1993 “Sewer Construction By-Law” shall be repealed on the date this By-Law comes into force and effect

    3. Section 7(i) of By-Law 2 of 1993 "A By-law respecting privately-owned outdoor swimming pools and ponds" shall be repealed on the date this By-Law comes into force and effect.