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Water By-law Review

On Wednesday, October 28, 2015, City Council approved the enactment of a new Water By-law to replace the existing Water Works By-law No. 504/73 report. The start date for the new Water By-law is January 1, 2016.

For more information, please visit the City of Winnipeg's Water & Waste Department website.

Background

We have completed a comprehensive review of our existing Water Works By-law and drafted a new Water By-law. We are now seeking feedback from the public before we send it to City Council for consideration.

Why prepare a new draft by-law?

The existing Water Works By-law No. 504/73 passed by City Council, November 7, 1973, required a thorough review and update.  We worked with a consultant to review water by-laws from other major Canadian cities and used this information as the basis for preparing the new draft Water By-law.

The new draft Water By-law will:

  • protect public health by enhancing measures to safeguard the City's waterworks system and the high quality of our drinking water,
  • add clarity for enforcement,
  • update the by-law format to be consistent with The City of Winnipeg Charter, Manitoba By-law writing styles, and the Sewer By-law No. 92/2010,
  • make it easier to understand through user-friendly language.

What are some of the major revisions?

  1. Adding non-conforming water service pipe 1 requirements.This provision would impact a small number of property owners, as the majority of water service pipes are conforming. Professional engineers and licensed water contractors should be aware of this provision. This ensures that water service pipes are installed conventionally and avoids potential disputes in the future (e.g., impact of water leaks).Financial impact to the property owner includes the cost of abandoning the non-conforming water service pipe and installing a conforming water service pipe that would connect to the new fronting water main.

    See Part 6 ‐ Connection Requirements for more information.

  2. Adding "moderate" 2 hazard buildings to require premises isolation 3 This provision would impact business property owners, licensed backflow testers and plumbing contractors. This further protects the City's drinking water. 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.

    See Part 7 ‐ Backflow and Cross-Connection Controls for more information.

  3. Increasing restrictions and clarifying permit conditions for the use of public and private fire hydrants.The fire hydrant permit process would impact independent contractors and other City Departments. The Fire Department and licensed fire hydrant testers under the Fire Prevention By-law are excluded from this provision. These restrictions further protect the quality of the City's drinking water and reduce hydrant maintenance issues.

    See Part 8 ‐ Fire Hydrants for more information.

  4. Requiring water meter installations to follow new standard detail drawings.This provision would impact builders, licensed plumbing contractors and backflow testers. This ensures new water meters are installed using a standardized approach that would improve safety and access.

    See Part 9 ‐ Water Meters and Other Devices for more information.

  5. Significantly increasing fines for by-law violations from the existing $50 maximum fine.Default fines, proposed in Part 11, mirror the Sewer By-law:

    • first offence fine of $1,000 to $50,000,
    • second offence fine of $5,000 to $100,000 and
    • third offence fine of $10,000 to $250,000.

    Minimum fines, proposed in Schedule A, range from $250 to $500 with a discounted amount for early payment.

    This provision would impact all stakeholders. This provision is designed to enhance the overall protection of public health and water quality.

    See Part 11 and Schedule A for more information.

To learn more about the recommended revisions, please see the Documents and Reports section

1 A non-conforming water service pipe is a water service pipe that is not connected to a fronting water main

2 moderate hazards are typically found in office buildings, schools, shopping malls, and high-rise buildings.

3 premises isolation is the separation of a customer's private water system from the City's public drinking water by installing an approved backflow preventer so that water from a building cannot flow back into the City's public drinking water system

Overview of the parts in the new draft Water By-Law

Part 1 ‐ Definitions

Defines terms that appear throughout the by-law

Part 2 ‐ Authority

Outlines the authority of the Director of the Water and Waste Department and the powers of designated employees

Highlights

Inspection and enforcement of the By-law:

  • specifies entry onto property ‐ when notice is required and when not
  • clarifies and authorizes water shut offs:
    • with notice (e.g., overdue account greater than 30 days)
    • without notice (e.g., suspected unmetered water, emergency situations)

Part 3 ‐ General

Includes clauses that apply to many sections of the by-law, reducing duplication

Highlights
  • Enhances property owner's responsibility:
    • clarifies "ownership" and property owner's maintenance responsibilities
  • Enhances requirements for licences, permits and authorizations
  • Adds clarification for seasonal water service pipes
  • Adds authority to the Mayor to execute water rationing;

Part 4 ‐ Water Contractor's Licence

Outlines licensed water contractor's requirements

Highlights
  • Requires Contractors to be licensed by the Water and Waste Department to perform work on a water main or water service pipe

Part 5 ‐ Construction Requirements

Outlines requirements for authorizations and Service Permits for water service pipes

Highlights
  • Authorizations and Service Permits:
    • adds authority to require as-built drawings where authorized work could have a significant impact on the City's infrastructure
    • adds a one year warranty for domestic water service pipes installed via Service Permits
  • Standard Construction Specifications:
    • moves the majority of construction specifications to the Standard Construction Specifications
    • allows AWWA-approved material types for water service pipe on private property
  • Requirements for buildings to be demolished:
    • specifies the responsibility of the property owner regarding shut-off valves when a building is to be demolished
  • Criteria for reusing water service pipes:
    • material, depth, size, location, functionality and other relevant factors established by the Director
    • prohibits the reuse of a water service pipe that has been frozen or identified as being at risk of freezing
  • Adds a restriction on installing new water service pipes:
    • not allowed until existing pipe is physically abandoned from the waterworks system

Part 6 ‐ Connection Requirements

Includes temporary connections, supply of water to a single property, subdivided buildings and non-conforming water service pipes

Highlights
  • Clarifies the responsibility of both property owner and contractor
  • Clarifies the shut-off valve requirements for each building on a property
  • Adds authority to refuse the issuance of a Service Permit to connect if there is risk to City infrastructure
  • Clarifies the ability for a single property to have more than one water supply
  • Adds provisions for non-conforming water service pipes:
    • includes criteria for refusal, risk to:
      • City's infrastructure,
      • owners property or nearby properties,
      • human health or safety or the environment
    • includes criteria for authorization (e.g., engineering drawing required for pipes crossing adjacent properties),
    • fees and connection charges:
      • equivalent to the Encroachment By-law,
      • equivalent to Frontage Levy By-law
    • if a new fronting water main is installed after the new Water By-law comes into effect (e.g., January 1, 2016), the by-law would require the property owner to properly abandon the non-conforming water service pipe and install a conforming water service pipe that would connect to the new fronting water main within 18 months of receiving notice.

Part 7 ‐ Backflow and Cross-Connection Controls

Outlines backflow and cross-connection controls to protect the drinking water quality in the waterworks system

Highlights

  • Adds a requirement for premise isolation for "moderate" hazard buildings
    • Winnipeg is one of the few Canadian cities that do not require premise isolation for "moderate" hazards in their Cross-Connection Control Program
    • all businesses identified with having a "severe" degree of hazard under the current Water Works By-law are already required to have premise isolation (e.g., food processing and hospitals)
    • in properties where there is a "moderate" degree of hazard, the owner must install a double check valve assembly (DCVA) on the incoming water line at the water meter location for premises isolation.
    • where an existing building is identified as "severe" or "moderate" degree of hazard, the owner of the building is required to install premises isolation devices within a reasonable period of time identified by the Director on a notice
  • Adds a new requirement for when water is being supplied by an auxiliary water source:
    • air gap (non-mechanical)
  • Adds provisions to require:
    • testers to calibrate their equipment
    • owners to retain test report results

Part 8 ‐ Fire Hydrants

Regulates both public and private fire hydrants, covers issues such as installation, permits for withdrawing water from hydrants and unauthorized use of hydrants

Highlights
  • Clarifies permit conditions for the use of public and private fire hydrants. This provision is designed to protect the quality of our drinking water by reducing:
    • the incidence of discoloured water in the waterworks system
    • fire hydrant operation and maintenance issues
    • unmetered and unauthorized use of fire hydrants (loss of revenue)
      Note: Fire Department and fire hydrant testers licensed under the Fire Prevention By-law are exempt from this requirement.
  • Prohibits the decoration / painting and obstruction of fire hydrants

Part 9 ‐ Water Meter and Other Devices

Outlines the requirements for supplying, installing, repairing, sealing, replacing, relocating and removing water meters, also duties of property owners regarding water meters and multiple meters

Highlights
  • Adds and clarifies water meter installation requirements:
    • not possible to divert water undetected,
    • additions to Standard Construction Specifications,
    • conditions that make a water meter inaccessible, includes existing water meters
  • Prohibits removing a water meter unless:
    • water service pipe is properly abandoned,
    • the building is being demolished
  • Allows waiving the basic charge if the Director is satisfied that water cannot be supplied to property
  • Places onus on property owners to ensure that water meters are not damaged, tampered with or rendered inoperable
  • Revises the requirements for locations with multiple meters:
    • adds a new requirement that the water meters collectively measure the water supplied to the property accurately,
    • removes the requirement to ensure consumption between units is metered accurately
  • Revises the requirements for water meter bypass:
    • places the onus on property owners to ensure bypass is unopened and sealed
    • allows the City to require the removal of water meter bypasses if:
    • valve seals are broken frequently,
    • bypass no longer meets requirements of the by-law

Part 10 ‐ Water Charges and Meter Readings

Administers provisions related to water charges and collection, also requirements for reading water meters

Highlights
  • Clarifies that water charges are owed by the property owner and any person who agrees to pay:
    • reinforces authority under The City of Winnipeg Charter to add charges to property tax bill
  • Adds a requirement for annual water meter readings
  • Clarifies when City can estimate consumption:
    • places onus on property owner to prove that estimate is unreasonable
  • Adds the authority to bill individual condominium unit owners

Part 11 ‐ Administration, Enforcement and Other Provisions

Regulates compliance orders, service addresses, penalties for violating the Water By-Law and appeals process

Highlights
  • Revises the fines structure:
    • removes the $50 maximum fine,
    • establishes default and minimum fines
  • New fine amounts were based on:
    • threat to public health,
    • theft of water, and
    • water by-laws from other Canadian cities
  • Default fines, proposed in Part 11, section 62, mirror the Sewer By-law:
    • first offence from $1,000 to $50,000,
    • second offence from $5,000 to $100,000,
    • third offence from $10,000 to $250,000
  • Minimum fines, proposed in Schedule A:
    • range from $250 to $500
    • includes a discounted amount for early payment within 15 days
  • Appeals:
    • Any appeal permitted by The City of Winnipeg Charter for orders or decisions made under this By-law may be made to the Designated Committee
    • Appeals must be accompanied by the applicable appeal fee

Part 12 ‐ Repeal of the Water Works By-law and Consequential Amendments to Other By-laws

To ensure consistency with the new draft Water By-law, the Water and Waste Department would propose consequential amendments to other City By-laws in 2015 for City Council consideration

Timeline

November 26 & 27, 2014

Public Meetings

January 16, 2015

Deadline for Stakeholder Comments

March 2015

Public Participation Report

January ‐ May 2015

Revisions to New Draft Water By-law

October 2015

Report to City Council

January 1, 2016

New Water By-law comes into effect

Item # Task Completion Date
1. Public Meetings November 26 & 27, 2014
2. Deadline for Stakeholder Comments January 16, 2015
3. Public Participation Report March 2015
4. Revisions to New Draft Water By-law January ‐ May 2015
5. Report to City Council October 2015
6. New Water By-law comes into effect January 1, 2016

Introduction

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The existing Water Works By-law No. 504/73, passed by City Council in 1973, was due for a thorough review with the primary goal of protecting public health by:

  • strengthening measures to protect the City's waterworks system and safeguarding the high quality of our drinking water,
  • improving enforcement of the by-law, and
  • increasing penalties for violations.

A secondary goal was to write the by-law in a language that is:

  • clear and easy to understand, and
  • consistent with:
    • the City of Winnipeg Charter,
    • the legislative by-law drafting style used by both the Province of Manitoba and the City of Winnipeg.

The proposed start date for the new Water By-law is January 1, 2016.

  • receive public comment on the draft, deadline is January 16, 2015
  • incorporate pubic feedback
  • submit the new Water By-law to City Council for consideration
  • inform and educate customers of the new Water By-law

Fees

No new fees or fee increases are proposed in the new draft by-law. Fees, charges, surcharges, and deposits are contained in the Fees and Charges Manual and increase by the rate of inflation annually. When larger increases are recommended, they are submitted to Council for consideration. The Fees and Charges Schedule is on the City's website at http://winnipeg.ca/finance/documents_page.stm#Fee

Yes. New fines have been established. Fine amounts have been increased and are based on:

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

There are two types of fines, default and minimum.

Default fines mirror the Sewer By-law and can be found in Part 11 of the new draft Water By-law:

  • first offence from $1,000 to $50,000,
  • second offence from $5,000 to $100,000,
  • third offence from $10,000 to $250,000

Minimum fines are in Schedule A of the new draft Water By-law and

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

Enforcement

The nature of enforcement method will depend on factors such as:

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

Enforcement options include:

  • warning or notice of by-law violation, shutting off water supply,
  • suspending or cancelling licences where required to use the City's waterworks system,
  • issuing written orders to cease the contravention or to correct the by-law violation within a specific time frame, if the order is ignored, we can take action to remedy the contravention and charge the costs of doing so to the property taxes, and
  • prosecution, resulting in fines and / or court orders.

Water service pipe

No. Only a contractor licensed by the City can repair your private water service pipe outside of the house.

Licensed water contractors:

  • have the proper equipment and training to do this type of work,
  • are familiar with the approved products (Standard Construction Specifications) to use when repairing the pipe,
  • are familiar with the City's requirements when working on a water pipe that connects to the City's waterworks system (e.g., ensuring a permit is obtained before work starts, carrying the necessary insurance, arranging for a City inspection once the repair is complete),
  • are listed on the City's website at http://winnipeg.ca/waterandwaste/dept/licensedContractors.stm

No. The shut-off valve is City property, only an authorized City employee or agent can make these repairs. Property owners should contact 311 to report shut-off valves that are damaged or need adjustment.

Installing a separate shut-off valve to each new building protects the property owner. This allows you or the City (at your request) to disconnect the water to a specific building when there is a significant leak in the building or when the occupant of that building has not paid its utility bill.

Yes. A designated employee shall refuse to issue a Service Permit for the installation of a water service pipe if installing the water service pipe would compromise or place at risk critical elements of the City's infrastructure, including the branch aqueduct and feeder mains.

All property owners that are supplied by this water service pipe are responsible for maintenance and repairs.

A non-conforming water service pipe means a water service pipe that is connected to a non-fronting water main.

These pipes would continue to be permitted under the new Water By-law. A property serviced by a non-conforming water service pipe would not be required to abandon and connect to a fronting water main, unless this pipe poses a risk or interferes with City infrastructure and operations.

If a property's non-conforming water service pipe poses a risk or interferes with City infrastructure and operations, the property owner would be required to abandon and connect to the fronting water main after being notified by the City. We would provide a reasonable time frame for compliance.

Fire hydrants

Yes, however, you must first obtain a permit to use public or private fire hydrants by contacting 311. A hydrant permit requires:

  • the applicant to pay a permit fee and a fee for all water used,
  • an authorized City employee to install a mandatory hydrant box on the hydrant.

The hydrant box consists of:

  • a device (backflow preventer) that protects the quality of the water by preventing contaminants from entering the City's drinking water system,
  • a water meter to measure the volume of water used, and
  • a valve to control the supply of water.

Note: Fire Department employees and fire hydrant testers licensed under the Fire Prevention By-law are exempt from this requirement.

No. As a guideline you must not plant trees or shrubs within 1.5 metres (approx. 5 feet) of a hydrant to ensure that:

  • fire hoses will easily connect to and extend all directions from the hydrant,
  • the hydrant is clearly visible and accessible for firefighting and for maintenance.

No. Only an authorized City employee or agent is authorized to paint or decorate a public or private fire hydrant. Fire hydrants (including the body, caps and top) are painted:

  • using a colour coding system that enables firefighters and water service crews to identify the diameter of the water main the hydrant is connected to,
  • a specialized paint that inhibits corrosion.

Backflow and cross-connection

Water normally flows in one direction, from the City's drinking water system to the pipes in your premise. Backflow is the flow of water in the opposite direction. Backflow can contaminate either the potable water within your building or the City's drinking water system. More information on backflow is available through the City's website at http://winnipeg.ca/waterandwaste/water/preventingBackflow.stm

A cross-connection is an actual or potential connection between the City's drinking water system and a source of contamination in a private plumbing system. When a cross-connection is not properly protected, and a backflow situation occurs, contaminants can enter the City's drinking water system or the water pipes on your premise.

A correctly installed and maintained air gap or device will stop contaminated water from flowing into the City's drinking water system or into your own potable water system.

Premise isolation is the separation of a customer's private water system from the City's drinking water system. This separation is achieved by installing and maintaining an approved backflow device or assembly so that water that is at risk of contamination in a building cannot flow back in to the City's drinking water system.

Backflow into a public drinking water supply system can contaminate the water in that system. Each water purveyor has a responsibility to provide water that is usable and safe to drink under all foreseeable circumstances. In order to protect the public, premise isolation would be the City's first line of defense in protecting the public drinking water system. The Safe Drinking Water Act regulation mandates water purveyors to protect the water supply to the point of delivery. The CAN/CSA-B.64.10/B64.10.1 Selection and Installation of Backflow Preventers / Maintenance and Field Testing of Backflow Preventers requires premise isolation even if the water distribution system in the building complies with current plumbing code requirements because backflow into the potable water system can still occur if the individual protection in the building fails.

Yes. Winnipeg is one of the very few Canadian cities that do not include premise isolation for all businesses as a requirement in their Cross-Connection Control Program. All other major municipalities are implementing premise isolation for industrial, commercial, institutional and multi-unit buildings as the first and foremost level of protection to ensure the safety of their drinking water system.

All businesses identified with having a severe degree hazard under the current Water Works By-law are already required to have premise isolation.

All businesses will at some point be required to install premise isolation. The requirements are based on the CAN/CSA-B64.10/B64.10.1 Selection and Installation of Backflow Preventers / Maintenance and Field Testing of Backflow Preventers. The type of backflow preventer selected is based on the degree of potential hazard to public health identified as severe, moderate or minor. All businesses are considered to be a moderate or severe hazard.

A severe or moderate hazard is based on "Guide to Degree of Hazard" contained in CAN/CSA-B64.10/B64.10.1

Severe hazards are any cross-connections or potential cross-connections that involves water that has additives or substances that, under any concentration, can create a danger to public health. Severe hazards are typically found in industrial, commercial facilities, hospitals and mortuaries.

Moderate hazards are hazards with a low probability of becoming a 'severe hazard'. The water's aesthetic qualities have been further reduced, and under certain conditions, may create a danger to public health. Moderate hazards are typically found in office buildings, schools, shopping malls, and high-rise buildings.

In properties where there is a severe degree of hazard to public health, the owner must install a reduced pressure principal assembly (RP) on the incoming water line at the water meter location for premise isolation.

In properties where there is a moderate degree of hazard to public health, the owner must install a double check valve assembly (DCVA) on the incoming water line at the water meter location for premises isolation.

There is no requirement for premise isolation on residential buildings unless non-potable water (i.e. grey or rain) is used at the property. If non-potable water is present, the City will require a testable double check assembly at the water meter.

The City will be able to provide businesses with a list of plumbing contractors and backflow testers who are licensed by the City of Winnipeg. Plumbing permits must be taken out from Planning, Property and Development Department for the work undertaken. Licensed backflow testers are listed on the City's website at http://winnipeg.ca/waterandwaste/water/licensedTesters.stm

Water Meters

Under this new Water By-law, water meters and other devices if required (i.e. backflow preventer and a water meter bypass) will be in accordance with standard detail drawings under the Standard Construction Specifications.

Water meter bypasses are required to businesses that cannot have their water service disrupted during routine meter replacements or servicing.

The City installs water meters to ensure customers are billed fairly for the water they use. Water shut-off valves are mechanical devices that do fail. Therefore, once a water meter is removed, the City is unable to determine if water is being used at a property.

Property owners are responsible for ensuring water meters are not damaged or stolen. If your water meter is damaged or stolen you may be able to recover the replacement cost from your property insurance provider.

The City obtains water meter readings through a combination of company reads and phoned in customer reads. Company meter readings are important as they obtain readings from customers who do not provide regular readings, identify meter reading errors made by customers and identify non-working meters. Meter readings may alert customers to increases in consumption that may result from leaks. Fixing leaks as soon as possible lowers costs for the customer and the Utility.

The City is currently exploring options for improved meter reading techniques. Replacement of water meters for all City of Winnipeg customers is a significant capital investment. The City must ensure that costs incurred to replace water meters are offset by increased revenue or reduced operating expenses.

Yes. The City can install additional water meters for each of your tenants. This is called multiple metering. You will need to fill out an application and provide the City with a drawing showing where you want to have the water meters installed. Once the City approves your drawing, you will then have to arrange for your licensed plumber to make all the necessary plumbing modifications. Once the plumbing work is completed, you can contact 311 to make an appointment to have the additional water meters installed.

Let us know what you think

We invite you to attend a public meeting on the new draft Water By-law.

Location: Masonic Memorial Temple, 420 Corydon Avenue

Date Wed. November 26, 2014 Thurs. November 27, 2014
Registration and coffee 5:30 ‐ 6:00 pm 9:00 ‐ 9:30 am
Presentation 6:00 ‐ 6:30 pm 9:30 ‐ 10:00 am
Question & answer period 6:30 ‐ 7:30 pm 10:00 ‐ 11:00 am

Provide us with your comments by Friday January 16, 2015.

If you cannot make it to the meeting, we encourage you to leave your feedback online.

Last updated: January 7, 2019