Sewer Responsibility

Residential and commercial properties have private sewer services which connect to the City-owned main sewers. These sewers then drain to large trunk sewers which carry wastewater to a sewage treatment plant. The trunk sewers and sewage treatment plants are maintained and operated by the Niagara Region.

Property owners are responsible for the private sewer service from the property line to their building. The City is responsible for all services and mains on public property.

To ensure the sanitary and combined sewers are in proper working order, City staff performs routine camera inspections and cleaning of the main sewers.

Sewer Back-ups

If you experience water coming up through your floor drain either during or following a rain storm, or while using large amounts of water (i.e. laundry) you may have a blocked sewer service.

You can call a private contractor or plumber to undertake the repair or you can call the city at 905.688.5600. A City crew will respond to your property and undertake the most appropriate means to correct your problem. If you hire a private contractor or plumber to undertake the work, you will be responsible for the contractor's cost regardless of where the blockage is located.
The cost to have City staff perform this service will be determined by:
  • the nature of the blockage;
  • the location of the blockage in relation to your property line; and
  • the equipment used to clear the blockage
If the blockage is found to be within the private property portion of the sewer service, the property owner is responsible for all costs to clear the blockage.
Should the cause of the sewer back-up be determined to be the main sewer there are no costs to the property owner associated with correcting the problem. However if there is not adequate access to the sewer service from an appropriate sewer service clean out (either inside or outside the building) to allow for the use of sewer cleaning rods, the homeowner is responsible for all costs to clear the service regardless of the location of the blockage.
The absence of a proper clean out limits our ability to provide a thorough clearing of the sewer. This is particularly important if the cause of the blockage is tree roots or grease build-up.
Please consider the following prior to a City crew arriving:
  • there must be clear access to the sewer service clean out, City staff cannot move personal property;
  • pets inside the home must be restrained; and
  • material should be put down to protect floors, City staff cannot remove their work boots.

Sanitary Sewers and Manholes

There are different types of sewers within the city. Sanitary sewers carry wastewater from residential, commercial and industrial sources. Combined sewers carry both sanitary and storm water.
During dry weather both types of sewers transport wastewater to either the Port Dalhousie or Port Weller sewage treatment plants. During some wet weather events the capacity of the sewer system can be exceeded and the wastewater in the combined sewers must be directed to large combined sewer overflow tanks.
These tanks are used to store wastewater until the levels in the sewer system return to normal at which point the wastewater is directed back into the sewers and on to one of the treatment plants. In the case of an ongoing wet weather event the overflow tanks may reach capacity at which point they are designed to overflow to the nearest body of water. These events are closely monitored by the City.
If you spot a manhole that is raised or missing a lid call 905.688.5600.

Storm Sewers and Catchbasins

Storm sewers carry rain water and run off to the nearest body of water to be discharged through points called outfalls. Catch basins are positioned along the curbside of streets and connect to the storm sewers.
Since storm sewers discharge to the natural environment it is very important not to dispose any material into catch basins. They are designed to catch debris (sand, leaves, dirt, etc.) washed off of the street and retain this material while allowing rain water to drain to the storm sewer.
City staff conducts yearly cleanings of catch basins and regular inspections of storm sewer outfalls to ensure proper functioning of the storm sewer system. 
Catchbasin covers can easily become blocked with leaves or snow leading to flooding issues. Residents can help by keeping the catchbasin covers clear of debris or call 905.688.5600 if flooding issues are occurring.
Picture of manhole cover
Copyright © 2014 The Corporation of the City of St. Catharines