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Wastewater Collection and Treatment

Wastewater is any water used in residential, commercial, industrial and institutional buildings that leaves through a drain. Regular activities such as flushing toilets, taking showers, doing laundry and washing dishes produce wastewater. This water is collected in sewers and then treated at plants to remove contaminants before being returned to the environment. Overall, York Region operates and maintains seven wastewater treatment plants, 19 pumping stations, two wastewater storage tanks and over 270 kilometres of sewer pipe.


Treatment Process

The treatment process consists of three stages of contaminant removal: physical, biological and chemical. The first or primary step of treatment removes debris and larger particles from water. Secondary treatment consists of biological reactions that break down organic contaminants. A third treatment step is sometimes required to achieve an even higher level of contaminant reduction.


Wastewater Collection and Treatment Service Areas

York Region's wastewater collection and treatment system is divided into two service areas, one that services the southern areas of York Region, and one that services the northern areas.

Southern Areas

Wastewater generated in the Towns of Aurora, Newmarket, Richmond Hill and Whitchurch-Stouffville (Stouffville community), the Township of King (King City community), and the Cities of Vaughan and Markham is collected by the York Durham Sewage System and treated at the Duffin Creek Water Pollution Control Plant.

The plant is located in the City of Pickering, Durham Region, and is jointly owned by the Regional Municipalities of York and Durham. Since 2006, a small portion of wastewater from the City of Vaughan that is being treated in Peel Region. Treated water from this service area is returned to Lake Ontario.

Northern Areas

Wastewater generated in the Towns of Georgina and East Gwillimbury (which include the communities of Holland Landing and Mount Albert), the Township of King (that includes the communities of Schomberg and Nobleton) and the City of Vaughan (Kleinburg) is collected and treated at individual water pollution control plants in York Region. Treated water from these service areas (except the Keswick plant) is returned to local rivers. The Keswick plant discharges water into Lake Simcoe.


ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 Standards

York Region is committed to achieving ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards. These are internationally recognized standards of excellence for quality and environmental management. In order to achieve registration, an organization must establish, implement, maintain and continually improve its activities and business processes. The registration process includes evaluation and review by a third party at least annually.

York Region's certification to ISO 9001 standard for water facilities and ISO 14001 standard for wastewater and waste management facilities demonstrate its continued commitment to provide safe water, wastewater and waste management services.


Southeast Collector Trunk Sewers

The new Southeast Collector Trunk Sewer collects wastewater from York Region residents. The sewer was built to increase wastewater servicing capacity to 2031, fulfilling goals set out under the Province of Ontario’s Places to Grow legislation.

The new gravity-fed sewer runs parallel to an existing section of the York Durham Sewage System, providing critical backup which can divert wastewater flows from one sewer to the other. This helps with inspection and maintenance or repair of the existing 40-year old system.

Innovation and Technology

Innovative solutions were addressed when planning for the new sewer. It required first-of-its-kind odour management technology and no disruption to local groundwater.

State-of-the-art Odour Elimination

The system moves air in the opposite direction of the wastewater flow and relies on a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) network, connecting a series of pressure sensors throughout the sewer system to control the fans. Structures were also developed to move wastewater down a 15-metre drop and to further reduce the potential release of hydrogen sulfide in manholes.

Zero Groundwater Disruption

The use of specially engineered tunnel boring machines excavated dense glacial tills, sand, silt, gravel and clay, while installing concrete lining - all in one single pass. This innovative process greatly reduced impacts to the community and inflow from local groundwater aquifers. It tunnelled at depths from eight metres to 40 metres deep, while moving slowly across 15 kilometres.

The sewer was built to be in service for the next 100 years.


Southeast Collector Project Reporting

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change requires ongoing monitoring and reporting for the Southeast Collector project. Additional project documentation is available upon request. 

Condition 9: Odour Management and Monitoring Semi-Annual Report

    Condition 9 and 11: 

    • Odour Management and Mitigation Monitoring (Condition 9) and Ambient Air Monitoring and Reporting (Condition 11) reports

    Condition 10:

    Condition 11:



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