Report to/Rapport au :


Planning and Environment Committee

Comité de l'urbanisme et de l'environnement


and Council/ et le Conseil


10 November 2009 / le 10 novembre 2009


Submitted by/Soumis par: Councillor/Conseillère Peggy Feltmate


Contact Person/Personne ressource : Councillor / Conseillère Peggy Feltmate,

Kanata South/Sud

(613) 613-580-2752,


Kanata South (23)

Ref N°: ACS2009-CCS-PEC-0030








prÉavis aux résidents pour le nettoyage d'égoût





That the Planning and Environment Committee recommend Council approve that when sewers are being cleaned in an area where problems have been reported, all residents of the street receive notice of the work being done.





Que le Comité de l'urbanisme et de l'environnement recommande au Conseil d'approuver l'envoi d'un avis des travaux en cours à tous les résidents d'un secteur, chaque fois que le réseau d'égoût d'un secteur est nettoyé à la suite du signalement de problèmes lié au réseau.




At its meeting on 10 November 2009, the Planning and Environment Committee received the following Notice of Motion by Councillor Feltmate. 


Whereas residents of Glen Cairn have been experiencing problems with toilets backing up when the City of Ottawa is cleaning sewers and waste water and excrement being sprayed all over their bathrooms;


AND WHEREAS providing notification of when sewers will be cleaned allows residents to take precautions that prevent problems during sewer cleaning;


AND WHEREAS the City of Ottawa currently only notifies people who have already experienced problems;

AND WHEREAS new complaints of toilets backing up during sewer cleaning are continuing to emerge on streets in Glen Cairn;


AND WHEREAS any of these residents have only just finished cleaning up their basements after sanitary sewers backed up on July 24, 2009;


AND WHEREAS the toilet back ups are both adding to the cost and hardships faced by people who are already facing significant costs as a result of the flooding;


THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT when sewers are being cleaned in an area where problems have been reported all residents receive notice of the work being done.





Environmental Services Department


The sewer cleaning operations are a critical aspect of the sewer collection system maintenance. The system is comprised of 2,700 kilometres of sanitary pipes, to which approximately 200,000 buildings are connected. The current service level is to clean each segment of pipes smaller than 450mm on a 5-year cycle.


The sewer cleaning operations are segmented into 4 categories: regular sewer cleaning, cleaning prior to closed-circuit inspection, cleaning of high maintenance pipe segments (hot spots) and troubleshooting.  Each category has its own work planning process and work specifications.


On average, City crews supervise the annual cleaning of approximately 800km of pipes, all categories included. Yearly cleaning operations are conducted in front of approximately 60,000 buildings.


In rare instances, cleaning operations create a surge of air pressure perceptible inside homes, up to, in even more rare instances, the gust of siphon water out of the plumbing system. In recent years, 55 complaints per year were received relating to cleaning operations. It is believed that most, but not all, of these complaints are related to blowbacks.


When such a complaint is received, the address is added to a list of locations where special precautions are taken to avoid a recurrence. These precautions are effective, but on occasion unanticipated blowbacks do occur. Currently, 1591 buildings have been receiving special notifications. Recurrences are uncommon.


Staff has expanded the protocol to provide one business day in advance notification in addition to a “day of” notification for all locations.  Historically, one of the precautions has been to notify the building occupants in the hours preceding the cleaning operations. Notification enables the homeowner to mitigate the consequences, but it does not prevent the incident.


It is the Department’s intention to bring to Committee and Council for review an assessment of the current service level and associated recommendations.   The Department expects to table the report in Q1 2010. 


In the meantime, cleaning operations have been suspended in the vicinity of houses on the special precaution list.  Nonetheless, some pipes may still require cleaning.  When cleaning is required, a temporary notification process, previous business day notification of the house in question, will be used.





This item will be advertised as part of the Public Meeting Advertisement in the daily newspapers on the Friday preceding the Planning and Environment Committee meeting.





Not available at time of printing of report.





It is estimated that 2,000 locations will require notification, a few days prior to sewer cleaning, at 40 houses per location. To achieve this new level of service, 3.5 FTES, two vehicles and printed material will be required.


The total annual cost of this notification protocol is estimated to be $270,000.


With Council direction on this matter, adjustments will be made to the 2010 Wastewater and Drainage Services Operating Budget.





Following approval by Committee and Council, Environmental Services staff to implement accordingly.