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Drains, Sewers, & Flooding

There are two types of sewers systems: storm and sanitary. Flooding can occur if the sewer connection to a building becomes blocked or when catchbasins or culverts are blocked.

Storm Sewer System

The municipal storm sewer system collects rainwater and surface water runoff from roads and parking lots into natural channels and catch basins (storm grates) and transports it to various points in Kempenfelt Bay. Water that enters a storm drain is NOT treated to remove pollutants; it is important not to dispose of any waste materials into any storm water collection point.

Sanitary Sewer System

The municipal sanitary sewer system is a system of underground pipes that transport sanitary sewage from the plumbing of privately owned buildings to the Wastewater Treatment Facility (WwTF). Manholes are used at designated intervals in a sewer line as a means of access for inspection or cleaning. The manhole lid provides access to the sewer system.

The sewage is treated at the facility and the clean treated water is discharged into Kempenfelt Bay. To ensure a properly functioning transportation and treatment system, certain materials should NOT be disposed of into sinks or toilets. These common items can cause blocked drains, equipment damage, injury to a WwTF employees, and/or poor sewage treatment:

Disposable diapers Any plastic materials
Baby wipes Kitchen grease
Sanitary napkins Oil, fiels & other hazardous materials
Combs, brushes, toys Building foundation drainage (sump pump water)
 Hair Newspapers, rags, cloths

Blocked and/or Damaged Drains & Sewers

If you have water coming back up your drains (i.e. basement floor drain), you may have a blocked drain. To help avoid a common cause a blocked lateral, please review Grease Management for your Home.

City crews can determine whether the blockage is in the main* or in the homeowner's sewer lateral. If the blockage is in the main that runs down the middle of the street, the City is responsible for clearing it. 

The homeowner is responsible for the sewer line (lateral) from the house to the main. City staff can clear it for the homeowner at the following rates:

  • Minimum 1-hour call out: $230 / hour
  • Calls after 4pm Monday–Friday and all day Saturday (minimum 2hr call out): $670
  • Calls on Sunday or statutory holidays (minimum 2hr call out): $880

*It is City policy when responding to calls regarding blocked sewers to check the main, whether the caller thinks the blockage is their responsibility or not.  If the main is blocked it could affect more than one property. Once it has been verified that the blockage is not in the main, the homeowner can decide whether they want a City crew to clear it or not. Homeowners also have the option of calling a private service provider.

Flooding

Flooding can occur if the sewer connection to a building becomes blocked by tree roots, grease, objects and other debris. Flooding can also occur during spring and summer storms and also when catch basins or culverts are blocked. Basic preventative measures include:

  • do not put grease or objects (such as diapers, wipes, paper towels, rags, dental floss) down your toilet or drains.
  • consider installing a sump pump if required. 
    Sump pumps are installed in the basement of homes to collect water from the foundation of the house and pump it out onto the lawn to prevent basement flooding.
  • keep catchbasins clear of leaves and debris. In the fall, sweep up leaves for bagging or composting to prevent excess debris from entering the sewer system.
  • consider having your plumbing cleared of any debris, roots, etc.

If you have a back-up of water and/or sewage in your basement, please:

  • Check the toilets and sinks and clear any blockages.
  • If that doesn’t solve the problem, please call us at 705-726-4242.
  • Avoid using your plumbing until the problem has resolved to minimize any damage.
  • Make notes of everything that happens (i.e. where and when the water came in, anything you did to help alleviate the flooding). This will help City staff or your plumber determine the cause of the flooding.

It is important that any obstructions that can contribute to flooding be reported to the City of Barrie as soon as possible.

Creeks & Watercourses

During spring weather conditions and heavy rainfall events, water levels in local creeks and watercourses can rise and be dangerous. Please contact the City at 705-726-4242 (after-hours, please press 0) to report any of the following:

Sewer Use By-Law

The Sewer Use By-law prohibits, regulates and inspects the discharge of water and sewage into Barrie’s sanitary and storm sewers. The by-law establishes limits for water quality parameters such as phosphorus, nutrients, and suspended solids. To maintain properly functioning sewers, hazardous substances such as paints and fuels must not enter the municipal sewer systems. Unacceptable discharges to sanitary and storm sewers could result in:

  • the release of harmful substances to Lake Simcoe.
  • damage to municipal infrastructure.
  • interference with normal operation of the WwTF.
  • Inability to re-use the treated sludge (biosolids) as an agricultural fertilizer.
  • threat to the health and safety of the public and City staff.

To ensure that this does not happen, discharges must be controlled at their sources.  All Industrial/Commercial/Institutional (ICI) businesses must complete a waste survey report , which  furnishes information such as a description of operations, wastewater characteristics, disposal practises, spill prevention and schematic process diagrams. These reports assist the City to better understand and monitor ICI facilities. 

The Environmental Investigation and Response Section enforces the Sewer Use By-law for all residents and ICI  facilities through compliance inspections and monitoring.

The Benefits of the Sewer Use By-law

  • Healthier aquatic environment
  • Protection of Lake Simcoe and its tributaries
  • Improved water quality
  • Safe conditions for recreational water activities
  • Continued beauty of local natural resource for citizens’ enjoyment

Sewer Rates & Exemptions

The City’s water supply and wastewater systems are self-funded, drawing all Operating and Capital funds from the sewer rate, which is based upon water consumption. For residential customers, the rates are applied in an increasing block structure: the more water used, the more expensive it is.  Sewer Rate Exemptions are available for any residents who have an approved septic system not connected to City's sewer system. To obtain an exemption please apply through Environmental Services by calling 705-739-4219.

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