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New Water By-law

On Wednesday, October 28, 2015, City Council approved the Water and Waste Departmentís recommendation to enact a Water By-law 107/2015 to replace the existing water by-law, which has been in effect since 1973. The start date for the new Water By-law is January 1, 2016.

The new Water By-law will continue to regulate the operation of the City's waterworks system by clearly outlining the requirements and responsibilities for all stakeholders.  The waterworks system includes: water mains, valves, fire hydrants, water service pipes, water meters and backflow preventers.

Generally, the new by-law will impact anyone who is connected or works on the City's waterworks system including property owners, occupants, builders, consultants, licensed water contractors, licensed plumbers and licensed backflow preventer testers.  Certain parts of the by-law will impact some more than others. Please see the frequently asked questions and responses below.

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The existing Water Works By-law No. 504/73 has not been updated since it was enacted in 1973, although amendments have been adopted. Winnipeg's waterworks has evolved since then and the Water By-law must evolve too.

In revising the City's Water By-law, we had several goals in mind, including:

  • enhancing the protection of public health
  • strengthening measures to protect the City's waterworks system
  • safeguarding the high quality of our drinking water
  • adding clarity to the enforcement sections of this by-law
  • increasing penalties for by-law violations
  • making the by-law easier to understand
  • ensuring the by-law is consistent with The City of Winnipeg Charter and provincial drafting styles
The City hired a consultant (Bid Opportunity No. 715-2011) to review water by-laws from other major Canadian cities and we used this information as the basis for preparing the new City Water By-law.

The new Water By-law includes the following key features:

  • clarifies City's authorization to shut off water supply to a property (with and without notice)
  • clearly outlines responsibilities and requirements for non-conforming water service pipes
  • includes requirements for more buildings to protect against contamination by installing backflow preventers (premises isolation)
  • clarifies use of public and private fire hydrants
  • adds and clarifies requirements for water meters and water charges
  • revises the penalty structure for by-law violations

The new Water By-law does not regulate the City's drinking water quality. This is regulated by Manitoba Health and Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship. If you would like to know more about our water quality, visit City's drinking water quality.

The new Water By-law does enhance the protection of public health with measures that prevent, control and minimize disturbances in the waterworks system that could cause water quality issues.

Yes, the City initiated a public engagement and consultation process in November 2014 to highlight key features and encourage feedback on the new Water By-law. Public feedback was collected from November 10, 2014 until January 16, 2015.

For more information on public feedback, please refer to the Public Participation Report, Summary of Comments and Responses, and Feedback Report.

Yes, but water rates, fees and charges are not regulated in the new Water By-law. Water rates, fees and charges will continue to be set out in the Fees and Charges Schedule and approved by City Council.

For more information on the Fees and Charges Schedule, please visit Fees & Charges.

Premises isolation is the installation of a device that prevents water from a building from flowing back into the City's drinking water system. Water usually flows in one direction, from the City's drinking water system to the pipes in a building. When water flows in the opposite direction, it can contaminate either the drinking water within the building or the City's drinking water system.

The Drinking Water Safety Act mandates water system owners, such as the City, to protect the public drinking water system, from source to tap. In order to protect the public, premises isolation is enforced as a key line of defense in protecting the public drinking water system.

For more information, please refer to preventing backflow.

When the new Water By-law comes into effect on January 1, 2016, the City plans to implement the premises isolation requirements in a phased approach based on the degree of risk and the protection of the City's waterworks system. The City will provide a reasonable time frame for compliance.

Financial impacts to the business property owner include:

  • the cost of installing an approved backflow prevention device, estimated in the range of $2,000 and $10,000 per device, and sometimes greater depending on the situation,
  • annual testing of each device, estimated at $150 and up, depending on the number of devices.

Yes, a new fine structure has been established. Fine amounts have been increased and are based on:

  • threat to public health
  • theft of water
  • water by-laws in other Canadian cities

There are two types of fines, specific and default. Specific fines are for specific offences set in the by-law.  Where no specific fine has been set out, a default fine can be applied. 

Specific fines in the new Water By-law:

  • range from $250 to $500
  • include a discounted amount for payment within 15 days

Default fines in the new Water By-law range from:

  • $1,000 to $50,000 for a first offence
  • $5,000 to $100,000 for a second offence
  • $10,000 to $250,000 for a third offence
The amount of the fine will depend on factors such as:

  • the type of violation
  • the severity of the violation
  • the contravention history of the violator

The Judicial Justice of the Peace who presides at prosecution would determine and impose the fine.

Last updated: July 25, 2016