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Are you contributing to the clogging of our sewer pipe lines?

February 4, 2016 - What's New


A pipe clogged with thick fats, oil and grease, also known as FOG

We all know we shouldn’t be pouring oil and grease down the drain, but what happens when people do it anyways? Contrary to the popular belief, once oil and grease have gone down the drain, it does not simply wash away and vanish without a trace. When warm oils and grease are washed into the sewer they cool, harden and stick to the inside of the sewer pipelines (both in private sewer lines in your home or business and city sewers under the streets). Over time, the oil and grease will build up and can block the entire pipe. Blocked sewers can lead to problems such as:

  • Overflowing of sewage into your home, business, or neighboring property, leading to flooding and a potentially expensive and unpleasant clean-up
  • Contact with disease-causing organisms
  • An increase in operation and maintenance costs to clean and repair damaged sewer pipes.

Have a look at this video taken January 2014 of a Niagara Falls sewer pipe and just how bad things can get.

If you are a Food Service Establishment in the City of Toronto, you might be in for an even bigger problem. This week Toronto Water asked City Council to approve the requirement for Food Service Establishments to abide by a new Code of Practice to discharge their water to sewers. The Code helps owners and operators of Food Service Establishments in the City of Toronto understand their obligations of Municipal Code Chapter 681 (By-Law), by minimizing the amount of grease entering the municipal sewer system. Municipalities and the Ontario Building Code require non-residential kitchen operations, to install an oil/grease interceptor to collect fats, oils and grease and prevent them from entering the sanitary sewer. Each establishment is also required to have a spills response plan in place. The document can be viewed at: http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2015/pw/bgrd/backgroundfile-85004.pdf.

Owners and operators of Food Service Establishments in Toronto must have a spills response plan and post it where it will be visible to all staff, ensure that sufficient spill clean-up materials are available, and that staff are trained to use these materials. Should a spill occur, the City must be notified, actions need to be taken to ensure that the spilled material does not enter sanitary or storm sewers, and a written report must be submitted to the City within 5 days of the occurrence. Details on the reporting requirements can be found in the By-Law.

Food Service Establishments must keep oil grease interceptor operating and maintenance records to be able to demonstrate that this equipment is being maintained according to manufacturer’s recommendations or industry best management practices. Maintenance includes daily, weekly and monthly clean-outs, disposal of the clean-out residues using a provincially-licensed waste service provider, and design drawings showing that the oil grease interceptor has been sized properly for the flows it is expected to treat. These records must be kept for a minimum of 7 years.

The City may visit a Food Service Establishment and audit for compliance with this Environmental Code of Practice. Corrective actions may be required if the City finds non-compliance. Fines for contraventions of the By-Law can range from as much as $75,000 for an individual and up to $100,000 for a corporation. These fines would be in addition to the costs of removing fats, oils and grease blockages.

For additional information on this and other Sewer Use By-Law requirements contact Rosanna DiLabio at Pinchin Ltd. via phone: 905.363.1319 or email:

rdilabio@Pinchin.com