Sewers and wastewater

The City of London currently manages five wastewater treatment plants and 38 pumping stations. Keeping London's pipes free and clear helps reduce back ups, basement flooding, and environmental impacts. 

REport a sewer-related issue

Get a Fats Oils and Grease (FOG) Cup

Free FOG Cups can be picked up at City of London EnviroDepots and at London Public Library locations.  

What is FOG and why do we collect it?

Fats, oils, and grease (FOG) can block London's sewer system when they're poured down your sink or into your toilet.  When FOG hardens, you could end up flooding your basement or even your neighbour's.

The City of London provides residents free FOG Cups to collect their fats, oils, and grease. When the cup is full, it can be returned to a City of London EnviroDepot where it will be used to generate green energy. 

One full FOG Cup can be turned into enough energy to power a refrigerator for a day. 

The degradable FOG cup can also be placed in your garbage. If you do not have a FOG cup, you can also collect fats, oils, and grease in a coffee cup or can that you can place in the freezer. When it is full, please throw it out in your garbage.

Please use a City of London FOG cup if you hope to return it to an EnviroDepot to be converted into green energy. 

If you have questions about FOG cups or this program, please contact Barry Orr at borr@london.ca or call 519-661-2489 x 6306

Private Drain Connection

A Private Drain Connection is the portion of sewer pipe from your property line to the City’s sanitary sewer main.  The portion of the pipe on private property is called the building sewer. Together, the Private Drain Connection and the building sewer are known as the sanitary lateral pipe.

The homeowner is financially responsible for the entire length of the sanitary lateral pipe. The main distinction between the two sections of pipe is that City staff may be involved in the repair work for the Private Drain Connection portion, while the maintenance, repair and replacement of the building sewer can be done by any qualified contractor the homeowner chooses in accordance with appropriate permits.

The homeowner is responsible for the entirety of the pipe because the homeowner controls what is discharged to this sewer pipe from their property. 

The City is responsible for the sanitary sewer main within the roadway that runs in front of the property.

Please refer to the City of London’s Drainage By-law for more information.

What do I do if a Private Drain Connection is blocked?

Blockages can be a health hazard when wastewater backs ups into your basement and damages your property.

If you are currently flooding or recently experienced flooding in your basement, contact the City at 519-661-4570 (Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) or 519-661-4965 (after hours). The City will send staff out to the property to determine if the City sewer main under the road is functioning properly, at no cost to the homeowner. If it is determined that the City's sewer main is the issue, the City will repair the sewer main.

Blockages that occur between the building and the City’s main sewer pipe are the sole responsibility of the homeowner and resident.

There are several reasons why the sanitary lateral pipe may be blocked. There may be a pipe collapse or obstruction in the pipe caused by tree roots, a buildup of grease, flushable wipes, or other objects.

If the issue is your sanitary lateral pipe, you should contact a licensed plumber/drainage contractor to determine whether the problem is in the building sewer or the Private Drain Connection.

If the blockage is within the building sewer (private property):

  • Call a qualified contractor of your choice (multiple quotes are suggested).

You may need to obtain a plumbing permit. Call (519) 661-4555, email epermits@london.ca or building@london.ca

If the blockage is within the Private Drain Connection (City property):

  • Call a qualified contractor of your choice (multiple quotes are suggested).
  • Obtain a Permit of Approved Works (PAW) by calling (519) 661-CITY (2489) Ext 2848 or email streetpermit@london.ca.

OR

  • If your property is a residential, single-family home, duplex, triplex, 4-plex, 5-plex, or 6-plex, you may request to have the Private Drain Connection replaced by the City of London. The City currently offers this Private Drain Connection renewal service for a flat-rate fee of $5,000, which can be paid as a lump sum, or on your property taxes over a 10-year period. Please call (519) 661-4570 or email es@london.ca for more information.

What will the City do?

As soon as payment is received, City Sewer Operations will:

  • Inspect the Private Drain Connection with a sewer camera
  • Clean the Private Drain Connection, if necessary
  • Determine the method of repair or replacement
  • Either open-cut replace, pipe-burst replace, or line the PDC
  • Restore to preconstruction condition

Private Drain Connection replacement during a City construction project

If the City is undertaking a reconstruction project where the mainline sewer is being replaced, all existing Private Drain Connections connected to this sewer will also be replaced between the mainline sewer and a point approximately 2 metres behind curb (this may vary from project to project depending on other external factors such as trees).  The length of the remaining existing Private Drain Connection will vary depending on a number of factors including the street Right-Of-Way, location of mainline sewer, and width of roadway. 

Can obstructions be caused by other utilities?

If it is determined that there is an obstruction within the sanitary lateral pipe, contact Ontario One Call at 1-877-969-0999. On rare occasions, another utility such as hydro, phone, or natural gas, may have inadvertently installed their infrastructure through the sanitary lateral pipe. By calling Ontario One Call, a free inspection will be scheduled to determine if another utility is interfering with your pipe.

Do I need to replace my Private Drain Connection?

If your Private Drain Connection is blocked due to a grease buildup, it may not be necessary to replace it. Once the cause of the blockage is removed, the Private Drain Connection should be functioning properly with no further action needed.

If the Private Drain Connection is starting to deteriorate, it may be in good enough condition to simply be lined with a new layer to maintain its integrity. Lining a Private Drain Connection eliminates the need to dig up the original pipe, resulting in less of a disturbance to your property.

If the Private Drain Connection has collapsed or is severely damaged, there may be no other solution than to replace it.

Can the City help with the cost of preventing flooding?

The City has a Basement Flooding Grant Program that was designed to provide financial assistance to homeowners who want to disconnect their weeping tiles from the City’s sewer systems and install a sump pit and sump pump, and a backwater valve.

What is a cleanout and where do I find It?

A cleanout is a direct access point to the building sewer and/or the Private Drain Connection.  If there is a blockage along your pipe from the house to the road, the cleanout is a point of entry to try and free the blockage without digging up your front lawn.  Cleanouts in homes constructed within the last 45 years are usually located near the front of the house, under the basement floor, where the pipe exits the house .  The cleanout can also be located outside the home and may be buried. If a cleanout exists, information may be available on its location and size.

 

Best practices for residents and businesses

Toilets and sinks are not garbage cans

Drains are designed for wastewater and toilet paper only. Flushing the wrong things down your toilet or sink can block sewer pipes and may cause flooding at your home.  It is also extremely important to keep medicines and garbage out of the toilet.

This includes:

  • Wipes
    • Do not flush any type of wipe, even if they say on the packaging they are flushable 
  • Medicine
    • Remember to always dispose of medicines by taking them to your pharmacy
  • Face masks

Only rain should go down the drain

Storm sewers and catchbasins collect water outside and drain directly into the nearest creek, river or lake. This water is not treated, so it is important to not put waste such as animal waste, automotive fluids, garbage, and chemicals down a catchbasin.

Pouring any chemicals in the storm sewer is illegal and pollutes our rivers and lakes.

One litre of motor oil spilled down a catchbasin can contaminate one million litres of water.

When you wash your car on your driveway or the street, the soapy, dirty water runs into our creeks and river. To avoid having dirty water run into our storm sewer system, consider these options for washing your car:

  • Use a commercial car wash facility. These facilities treat wastewater and discharge it into the sanitary sewer system where it will receive further treatment. Commercial car washes are regulated to practice water conservation. Washing your car at home can use as much as 50 percent more water.
  • Find a location where the wastewater won’t flow into the storm sewer. For example, washing cars on a gravel surface or grass allows the wastewater to be absorbed before it reaches the storm sewer.

Draining pools and hot tubs

If you are draining a pool or hot tub, remember to dechlorinate the water and drain onto your lawn, if it can be properly absorbed into the ground without flowing onto your neighbours property or storm water system.

Salt water pools should be discharged to the sanitary system connection on your property. The water from salt water pools have such high levels of chlorides that this water cannot be discharged to the storm sewer system.

Restaurant grease

Grease build up is often the main cause of sewer back ups at restaurants.  Grease interceptors are required anywhere food is cooked, processed or prepared. 

Grease interceptors are containment units designed to trap grease, oil, solids and other debris. They prevent these substances from getting into the sanitary sewer system where they can eventually block the entire pipe. Grease interceptors need to be properly sized, installed and maintained. Cleaning food wastes and oil out of grease interceptors is required on a regular basis.  

Oil and grit separators

Oil and grit separators are structures  integrated into the City’s stormwater system. As rain and melted snow wash from the ground surface and enter stormwater grates located on roads and in parking lots, oil and grit separators:

  • Remove sediment
  • Screen debris
  • Separate oil 

Property and business owners are responsible for maintaining this device as per London’s Waste Discharge By-law. Spills happen, so make sure your oil and grit separator is working properly to capture them.

If an oil and grit separator is not maintained, it can result in toxic runoff entering our stormwater system

Construction sites

Erosion and sediment control plans are an integral part of site development and construction sites.  Sanitary sewers are not built to handle storm water from construction sites and basements.

It is also important to manage wash water at a construction site.  Wash water for latex paint or concrete should never go into the storm sewer system. 

For more information and educational materials, please contact Wastewater Treatment Operations at 519-661-5701

Overflows and bypasses

A sewer system overflow occurs when sanitary sewers are overwhelmed by stormwater inflow during wet weather events. 

A wastewater treatment plant bypass occurs when flow exceeds capacity of the treatment plant. Untreated wastewater and storm water discharge directly into local waterways through an outlet to assist in preventing basement flooding. The wastewater treatment plant treats as much sewage as possible prior to any plant bypass by directing a portion of the flow to receive primary treatment but it bypasses secondary treatment.

Reducing the number of weeping tile drains to the sanitary sewer is required to avoid overflow and bypass issues. It is estimated that there are approximately 50,000 homes within the City of London that have weeping tiles directly connected to the sanitary sewer.  These flows can overwhelm the sewer system during heavy rainfall and can cause basement flooding, sewer system overflows, and bypasses. 

How can you help?

If your home's weeping tile is connected to the sanitary sewer inside your home, you can have your weeping tiles disconnected from the sanitary sewer and reconnected to the City’s stormwater system.

The City has the Basement Flooding Grant Program in place to assist homeowners with the cost.

For further questions about the Basement Flooding Grant By-law, or to find out if you qualify for grant program, please contact Kelly Christensen at kchriste@london.ca or call 519-661-2489 x 4696

Combined sewers

In some cases, both sanitary and stormwater drain into a common pipeline that leads it to a nearby wastewater treatment plant. This type of sewer is no longer constructed, but is occasionally found in old sewer systems. 

The City of London has invested almost $11 million into separating combined sewers in the downtown over the last three years. These measures help mitigate the sewer system by reducing, or even eliminating, the chance of wastewater overflows. 

 

Last modified:Tuesday, March 30, 2021