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 six Water Resource Recovery Facilities, 21 wastewater pumping stations, two wastewater storage tanks and over 355 kilometres of sewer pipe.
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.
Wastewater generated in the Towns of Aurora, Newmarket and Whitchurch-Stouffville (Stouffville community), the Township of King (King City community), and the Cities of Vaughan, Richmond Hill and Markham is collected by the York Durham Sewage System and treated at the Duffin Creek Water Pollution Control Plant.
The Duffin Creek Plant is located in the City of Pickering, and is jointly owned by the Regional Municipalities of York and Durham. Since 2006, a small portion of wastewater from the City of Vaughan is being treated in Peel Region. Treated water from this service area is returned to Lake Ontario.
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 Resource Recovery Facilities in York Region. Treated water from these service areas (except the Keswick plant) is returned to local rivers that are a part of the Lake Simcoe watershed. The Keswick Water Resource Recovery Facility discharges treated water directly back into Lake Simcoe.
ISO 14001 Environmental Management
York Region's certification to the ISO 14001 standard for wastewater operations demonstrates its continued commitment to provide safe wastewater services. This internationally recognized standard of excellence focuses on environmental management. All wastewater collection and treatment facilities and associated pumping stations, owned by York Region, including the monitoring and enforcement of the sewer-use bylaw are registered to ISO 14001. 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
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.
All Conditions (except 5 and 8) are deemed to be satisfied without any further reporting required, as per the letter from Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks.