The City inspects industrial properties and businesses and takes samples of wastewater discharged to the sewer system. The City ensures the samples meet the strict limits set by the Sewers By-law for hazardous waste and other harmful contaminants, such as heavy metals. Failure to comply with the By-law can result in fines up to $100,000 per day.

Some waste, like wastewater from food processing plants (i.e., breweries, dairies, and meat packers) are treatable at the City’s sewage treatment plants. In these cases, industries can enter into an Industrial Waste Surcharge Agreement with Toronto Water.

Other waste, like hauled sewage, cannot be discharged into the sewers, but can be delivered to certain sewage treatment plants under a Hauled Sewage Discharge Agreement.

Sometimes industries require time to resolve the issue causing the discharge over the limit. In these cases, industries can enter into a Compliance Program Agreement where a period of time is granted to rectify the issue.

Information regarding each program can be found below. For more information regarding applications and guidelines, contact 311. 

Industries or businesses that exceed discharge limits for specific treatable parameters can enter into an agreement to have the City treat the excess amount.

  • Until April 1, 2019, the surcharge fee for an IWSA or permit was based solely on the highest exceeding treatable parameter. On March 7, 2019, City Council authorized an amendment to the surcharge fee calculation formula to include all treatable parameters in order to capture full cost recovery for treatment, phased in over a six-year period, with the use of an annual adjustment factor of 14%.
  • The fee covers the cost of the treating the additional discharge.
  • Businesses benefit from treatment that costs less than installing their own treatment equipment.

The treatable parameters and unit cost per kilogram of parameter being treated is below. In addition to the rate, there is an annual minimum fee.

Parameter Rate ($/kg)
Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) $0.64
Phenolics (4AAP) $0.64
Total Suspended Solids (TSS) $0.70
Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen (TKN) $1.43
Total Phosphorus (TP) $2.24

For a list of organizations with Industrial Waste Surcharge Agreements, see the Sewers and Water Supply By-laws Compliance and Enforcement Annual Report.

Under certain circumstances and conditions, hauled sewage can be delivered to the Highland Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant for treatment. This includes sewage from:

  • cesspools
  • septic tanks
  • privy vaults/pits
  • portable toilets
  • sewage holding tanks

Only hauled sewage generated within the City of Toronto will be accepted.

Items required in an application for a Hauled Sewage Discharge Agreement

  • Current and valid Environmental Compliance Approval from the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks for hauled sewage.
  • A Corporate profile of the business/industry and its directors.
  • A copy of a Commercial General Liability Form with an insurance company acceptable to the City.
    • The policy of insurance and endorsement must each have a limit of coverage of not less than $5,000,000 per occurrence.
  • Standard owners form and automobile policy including third party liability insurance and at least $5,000,000 inclusive of limits, per occurrence, covering all licensed vehicles owned or operated by or on behalf of the company.
  • Completed Hauled Sewage Discharge Agreement Application Form.
  • A client service list.
  • A list of vehicles, license plate numbers and volume/capacities.

All dumps will be made under Toronto Water supervision will require a completed manifest and samples will be collected for testing after each load. The fee for disposal of septic waste is $27.86/m³ (220 gallons) of waste.

Companies can enter into a formal agreement with the City if they require additional time to obtain the necessary equipment or implement prevention measures to resolve the issue causing the discharge of a contaminant over the bylaw limit.

The Compliance Program Agreement enables the company to discharge to the sanitary sewer under new temporary higher limits while taking the corrective action, based on strict conditions and timelines as defined in the agreement.

The Sewers and Water Supply By-law Compliance and Enforcement Annual Report contains details on these agreements.