Water and wastewater services are a shared responsibility between Port Colborne and Niagara Region. 

Water

The Regional Municipality of Niagara draws water from the Welland Canal and treats it to make it safe to drink. Then the water is sent to the Fielden Avenue Reservoir, or the Barrick Road Water Tower, and then to the City-owned water distribution system and to our homes and businesses.

For more information, visit the Port Colborne Water Treatment plant website. 

Wastewater 

Wastewater is collected from Port Colborne homes and businesses by the City's wastewater collection system, which is made up of approximately 90 km of sewer mains. Wastewater is then emptied into one of the Region's 17 sewage pumping stations and then pumped to the Region's Seaway Wastewater Treatment Plant. There it is treated and then discharged back into the Welland Canal.

For more information, visit Niagara Region's Seaway Wastewater Treatment Plan website. 

The maintenance and management of drinking water and wastewater in Port Colborne, including the setting of rates and fees, are regulated by the City. 

See the Water By-law and the Sewer Use By-law for more information. 

Water & Waste Water Billing / Payment Options

To view rates and billing information, please visit our Water & Waste Water Billing / Payment Options page for details.

Understanding Your Water and Wastewater Bill 

 Sewer back up

Sewer responsibility

Residential and commercial properties have private sewer services, which connect to the City-owned main sewers.

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 sewers are in proper working order, City staff perform 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 contact the City of Port Colborne. If you contact the City, a crew will respond to your property and complete the following:

  • Operations staff will determine the location and cause of the sewer backup.
  • If it is determined that the blockage is located in the city portion of the sewer, Operations staff will remove the blockage by whatever means is determined to best suit the conditions.
  • If it is determined that the blockage is located in the private portion of the sewer, the property owner will be advised of the findings and will have the option of requesting the Operations staff to remove the blockage at the rates set out in the current Rates and Fees Bylaw for Engineering and Operations Services. The fee schedule provides rates to reflect the cost of the service during regular working hours and after hours.
  • The City will take all reasonable precautions not to damage any property during the maintenance operations. The City will not assume any responsibility or liability for any damages.

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.

Please refer to the City's Sewer Rodding Policy (bylaw 6143/109/14) for additional information.

 Sewer use program

Sewer use by-law

There are two Sewer Use By-laws that apply in Port Colborne; The City of Port Colborne's Sewer Use By-law, which can be viewed by visiting the City's Frequently Requested By-Laws page and the Region of Niagara's Sewer Use By-law which can be accessed by visiting their Sewer-use By-law page.

Working together, both by-laws protect the sanitary and storm sewer infrastructure that service Port Colborne's urban area. This infrastructure includes the sewer pipes, pumping stations and the wastewater treatment plant.

Discharges that break the requirements of the by-laws may damage the sewer infrastructure and create problems at the wastewater treatment plant. Problems, or “upsets” of the treatment process may result in incorrectly treated sewage being discharged to the Welland Canal.

 Toilets are not garbage cans

Did you know?

Everything put in your toilet or drain goes to a wastewater treatment facility that is designed to treat human wastes, toilet paper and wastewater only.

Flushing paper towels and other garbage down the toilet can create sewer backups and overflows in your home or in your neighbourhood.

Medicines flushed down toilets can end up in streams, rivers and lakes.

Pouring fats, oils and grease down the drain can cause problems for your home's plumbing as well as the City's sewer system. Blockages due to grease can cause damage to homes including basement flooding, create health hazards and degrade our environment. 

Visit Niagara Region's Acceptable Waste for Toilets webpage for more information.

Tips to dispose of waste properly:

Scrape all food scraps into a compost bin, not down the sink or toilet.

Properly dispose of all plastics, rubber and paper products by placing them in a recycling or garbage can.

Never flush medication, sharps, syringes or hypodermic needles down the toilet. Please dispose of items properly by returning them to the pharmacy. Note that approved yellow sharps containers are available FREE of charge from your pharmacist. Visit the Health Products Stewardship Association website for more information.

Never pour solvents, paint, gasoline, used motor oil or house cleaners down the drains, sewers or onto the ground outside. Please bring these liquids to one of the Region's household hazardous waste drop off locations. Visit the Region's Household Hazardous Waste page for more information.

Pour excess cooking fats and oils in an empty can and store in the fridge. The liquid will harden to form a solid and can be disposed of in the compost bin. 

Clean up grease spills using an absorbent material (e.g. paper towel) and place it in your compost bin.

Train your family members in good environmental practices.

Drinking Water 

The City of Port Colborne takes pride in ensuring that its residents are provided with clean and safe water, free of any pollutants that could jeopardize their health. The City's water system receives its treated water from the Region of Niagara.

 Door-to-Door Water Filtration Sales 
NOTE: The City of Port Colborne does not conduct door-to-door sales and does not sell, partner with or endorse any products or services. This includes:

• companies that offer testing of Port Colborne's drinking water

• companies that claim to be working on behalf of the City of Port Colborne

• notices saying mandatory City programs require the purchase of services or equipment

As of March 1, 2018, the Government of Ontario also banned unsolicited, door-to-door sales of certain products and services. The ban includes any company selling water treatment devices, purifiers, filters or softeners. See Consumer Protection Ontario to learn more about the ban.

Residents are advised to be cautious when solicited for any service and when sharing personal information with people unknown to them.

More about door-to-door water tests

No one coming door-to-door is authorized to test your drinking water. In Ontario, only licensed laboratories perform tests on drinking water and results take approximately 24 to 48 hours to process.

Port Colborne's municipal tap water is tested several times a day to ensure it meets or exceeds the Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards set by the province. See Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards to learn more.

If you suspect fraud or are concerned

Anyone suspecting fraud should call the Niagara Regional Police or Consumer Protection Ontario to learn more.

 Drinking Water Licensing 
 

The Safe Drinking Water Act , or SDWA, was enacted by the Province of Ontario after the events in Walkerton and were based on Justice O'Connor's recommendations after the Walkerton Inquiry. The SDWA requires owners of a municipal drinking water system to get and maintain a Municipal Drinking Water Licence (Licence). In order to get the Licence and renew it every five years, municipalities must have:

  • Drinking Water Works Permit (renewed every five years with the Licence)
  • Permit to Take Water (does not apply to Port Colborne)
  • Accredited Operating Authority
  • Operational Plan
  • Financial Plan

See the Safe Drinking Water Act for more information.

See the Walkerton Inquiry for more information.

More information on Drinking Water Licensing 

 Drinking Water Quality Reports 
When you fill up your glass with water from your tap, you can be assured that Port Colborne's drinking water is safe to drink. Standards for drinking water are set and legally enforced by the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The City of Port Colborne's drinking water consistently meets all Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards. The SDWA focuses on:
  • Treating and testing drinking water
  • Public access to information and notification of adverse water results

More information on drinking water quality and previous reports can be found here. 

 Frozen Water Service 
Water pipes and service lines can freeze when frost enters the ground during long periods of extremely low temperatures. Water pipes located in unheated areas can also freeze without proper insulation.

In 2015 the City of Port Colborne received over 250 calls from residents whose water pipes had frozen, leaving some without running water for days. We generally take our water for granted until we can't flush toilets, have a shower, do laundry or wash dishes. Routine activities like brushing teeth or having a glass of water are no longer as easy as turning on your tap. Being proactive before the temperature drops is an affordable way to help prevent your water pipes from freezing.

Prepare for winter

Follow these steps to reduce the risk of frozen pipes:

  • Seal air leaks in your home and garage.
  • Install insulated pipe sleeves, UL listed heat tape or heat cables (found at your local building supply and home improvement stores) on exposed pipes in unheated areas of your home such as crawl spaces, cold cellars, basements, attics, storage rooms and garages.
  • Disconnect and drain all outdoor hoses.
  • Shut off and drain all outdoor taps.

What to do if your pipes are frozen

If the pipes in your home have frozen, you can attempt to thaw those pipes yourself following the steps below.

  1. Turn on a tap in the basement. If you are successful in thawing your pipes, water will begin flowing from the tap.
  2. Locate the water shut-off valve in your home. If the pipe you are attempting to thaw bursts or you are successful in thawing the pipe, it may leak and potentially cause a flood. In this case, you will need to shut off the water to your house using the water shut-off valve until the leaky pipe is fixed.
  3. Use a blow dryer or space heater on the exposed pipe near the water meter for one or two hours, or you can try placing a warm towel or rag around the pipe. Do not use a torch with an open flame – you could set your house on fire.

If you have completed these steps and still don't have water, under the City's Frozen Water Service Pipe Policy , you will need to contact a plumber to come to your home. The plumber should confirm that your internal plumbing is not frozen, and attempt to thaw your service line from inside the building.

For more information, see the Frozen Water Services – Information for Property Owners or see the Frozen Water Service Pipe Policy .

 

If you have a concern that your water service may freeze, it is suggested that you let a cold water tap closest to the water meter run at a 1/8” stream (approximately the width of a pencil lead). The cost of doing so is expected to be not overly significant and will be the responsibility of the property owner.

 Showcasing Water Innovation 
 

Showcasing Water Innovation (SWI) is the province's program to demonstrate leading edge, innovative and cost-effective solutions for managing drinking water, stormwater and wastewater systems in Ontario communities.

In 2011, the province put out the call for funding applications for projects that communities across Ontario and beyond could learn from and be inspired by. Thirty-two projects were chosen to receive funding.

For more information, visit the Showcasing Water Innovation (SWI) website.

Case study

The City of Port Colborne's case studies are available in English and French.

See the Case Study in English for the English version

See the Case Study in French for the French version

Well Water Testing
Well Water Testing
Do you have a well or a cistern? Did you know that you should test your private drinking water at least seasonally?
The City of Port Colborne is offering FREE Drinking Water Test Kits. Residents of Niagara can pick-up well water/cistern testing kits and drop-off samples at City Hall, 66 Charlotte St., Port Colborne. 
Sample kits can be picked up and dropped off:
Monday - Thursday
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Sample kits are located in the front foyer of City Hall. 
For more information visit Niagara Region's website. 

Stormwater

 Stormwater 
Stormwater is the water from rain or melting snow that is not absorbed into the ground. In urban areas (in the city), stormwater goes into storm sewers (the grated drains found on streets), which empty directly into streams, the Canal or Lake Erie. Managing stormwater and drainage is key to preserving the health of our water.
 About Stormwater 

The challenge of urban areas

In nature, trees and earth help absorb rain slowly, breaking down pollutants, refilling groundwater and keeping waterways healthy. Maintaining this cycle is a challenge in urban areas that are covered in buildings, roads and other surfaces that don't allow rainwater to soak into the ground.

How stormwater affects our water

As it travels to storm sewers, stormwater picks up pollution along the way. Stormwater may look clean, but it can contain motor oil, gasoline, dog poo, garbage, fertilizer and other contaminants. These materials go directly into the nearest body of water, where they can be harmful to plants and wildlife.

Heavy rains can also put high volumes of stormwater into streams and creeks in a short period of time. This can cause erosion and stir up sediment, making it hard for fish to breathe.

Managing stormwater

The traditional approach to stormwater management was to drain stormwater as quickly as possible into the nearest waterway. Modern approaches try to mimic natural processes and allow stormwater to soak into the ground or be released more slowly into local waters.

The storm drains on driveways and streets collect rain, melting snow and other water and channel it into stormwater sewers. These sewers empty directly into the nearest stream, the Canal or Lake Erie.

You can help protect local waters by keeping harmful materials out of storm drains.

What you can do at home

Never dump anything down a storm drain

  • Anything that goes into a storm drain goes directly into the nearest body of water.
  • Recycle used motor oil and antifreeze.
  • Take paints, solvents, and other household chemicals to one of the Region's household hazardous waste drop off locations. Visit the Region's Household Hazardous Waste page for more information.
  • Wash your car at a commercial car wash, where soaps will be collected and channeled into the treatment system.

In your yard:

  • Cutting down the amount of chemicals and other materials in your yard means less will be carried into storm drains and end up in our local waters.
  • Have a drug-free lawn: cut down on fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. 
  • Keep clippings and other yard waste out of creeks, streams and other waterways (compost them if you can). 
  • Pick up after your pet.

Increase water absorption on your property

  • Increasing the amount of surfaces on your property that can absorb water and lets water soak into the ground instead of going into storm drains.
  • Use alternative materials for your driveway/sidewalk, like grass pavers, mulch, gravel or pervious concrete. 
  • Reduce the surface area of your driveway or sidewalk. 
  • Ensure that your lawn and garden has enough top soil.

Completed Water Wastewater Projects 

 Carter Street 
 A portion of the existing watermain servicing Carter Street was located on the rail line property behind the homes, and had reached the end of it’s lifespan. The City relocated 135m of watermain to the Carter Street Right of Way and relocated the water services of 9 residents to the front of their homes. As a result of relocating the water services, each home required additional plumbing to bring the water meters to the front of the homes.

This project was made possible by the Clean Water and Wastewater Grant, in sponsorship with the provincial and federal government. 

 Janet Street 
 In January 2020, substantial completion was achieved for the Janet Street watermain infrastructure update. More than 340 meters of existing watermain and 290 meters of sanitary sewer and storm sewer repairs were needed, with 150mm PVC watermain and 200mm PVC sewermain. 

This project was made possible by the Clean Water and Wastewater Grant, in sponsorship with the provincial and federal government. 

 

Stormwater Fees 

 Background
Prior to 2016, the stormwater system was funded solely through the tax levy.  The 2014 Storm Sewer System Infrastructure Needs Study (INS) evaluated several funding options to address the deficiencies in the system. Staff presented these funding options to Council in December 2015 (Report 2015-217 – Storm Sewer System Funding Strategy), and Council accepted the staff recommendation to remove storm sewer system expenses from the tax levy (as the required increase would have resulted in a 6% increase in property taxes, and was not fair and equitable, as residents in the rural areas who do not have storm sewers would also be taxed), and instead create an annual storm sewer fee to be applied to the properties in the urban area who benefitted from storm sewer drainage. 
 What are the fees used for? 

The storm sewer fees have funded several projects since 2016.  The Nickel Area Storm Sewer reconstruction was completed in 2017 and 2018, (including the entire area bounded by the Welland Canal, Lake Road, Davis Street and Durham Street). This project received Provincial and Regional funding and was the first project funded from the storm sewer fees and is the largest project completed to-date.  This $12 million project received nearly $3 million in funding and was financed over 30 years.  Smaller projects have included Rosemount storm sewer flushing, Olga Avenue storm sewer repair (180m), Knoll Street storm sewer repair (82m), Humboldt Parkway storm sewer repair (60m), various catch basin repairs and maintenance. 

 

What are the future plans? 

In 2021, the City has been focusing on stormwater maintenance, such as repairing defective catch basins and broken pipes, and was successful in receiving $215,000 in Wet Weather Flow funding from Niagara Region.  Part of this funding ($100,000) is dedicated to a project to investigate innovative stormwater management solutions for the Omer Area Drainage Investigation Focus Area.  This area was previously identified in 2011 as having many sump pumps connected to the sanitary sewer system, however, the storm sewer system was in too poor of condition to direct sump pumps to it.  The estimated cost to rebuild 4,000 meters of storm system pipes was just over $6.2 million.  This first phase of this project will involve reviewing the original 2011 study and coming up with alternative, innovative and cost-effective stormwater management strategies for this area.  The second phase of this project will be completing a pilot study, or studies, in this area and evaluating how well the stormwater is handled by the selected strategy.  The hope is that the City will identify new, more cost-effective ways to manage stormwater in established neighbourhoods, and instead of ripping up roads and spending millions of dollars putting in new pipes, we will be able to offer less expensive, less disruptive and more effective ways to manage stormwater.  We hope to have the first pilot projects rolled out in 2022.