In 2008, Toronto's Auditor General's Report on Protecting Water Quality and
Preventing Pollution recommended that Toronto should
charge industries the full cost of sampling, testing and treating
their high strength sewage. In November 2012, Toronto Council considered, and rejected, the
idea, settling for a small partial increase, presumably worried
about driving more industry out of the City. Now the issue is back
Under Toronto's Municipal Code, s. 681-6, the City can enter
into Industrial Waste Surcharge Agreements in which it accepts some
kinds of high strength sewage from industry in exchange for payment
for additional costs of operation, repair, and maintenance of the
In 2012, Toronto Water reported that the City had
industrial waste surcharge agreements with 154 companies and
recovered approximately $8.5 million in fees, in comparison to
actual costs to the City of $12.1 million. Water staff reported
that some major municipalities such as York Region, City of
Hamilton, City of Ottawa and Durham Region already charge full cost
pricing for sewage discharge agreements.
Instead, Toronto Council decided to increase the fees by only
$0.7 million (from $8.5 million to $9.2 million) in 2013, thus
achieving approximately 76% of full cost recovery.
Now that the 2015 municipal budget is at Council, the issue
of full cost recovery for sewer discharges has been raised again.
The Toronto Environmental Alliance launched a petition calling on City Councillors to recover
the full cost of treating industrial discharges to municipal sewers
from industry. TEA's briefing note argues for the end of this
The Auditor General and Toronto Water's General Manager both
agree that it is imperative to operate on a cost recovery basis...
The Industrial Waste Surcharge Program is the only service provided
by Toronto Water's Business Operations Management unit that
does not achieve full cost recovery...
While TEA supports existing City of Toronto financial subsidies
for industrial water users that implement water conservation and
pollution prevention initiatives, we do not support undercharging
industrial customers' wastewater treatment costs at the expense
of other ratepayers. Polluters should pay their fair share of
treatment costs to protect Lake Ontario from water pollution.
In February 2015, TEA recommended that Council adopt the
That City Council direct that, effective April 1, 2015, City
Council approve that the industrial waste surcharge program formula
for the calculation of surcharge fees be applied to all treatable
parameters that exceed the sewers by-law limits, instead of only
the one parameter that exceeds the sewer by-law limits by the
greatest amount, allowing full cost recovery for the wastewater
services provided by the City, such surcharge to be phased in over
a six year period to mitigate impacts to existing companies.
We understand that City Council will decide the issue this
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