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September 5, 2008
Know the law before pulling the plug on your pool
As the end of summer approaches, many homeowners are preparing to empty their pools. Whether they do it themselves or use a pool maintenance company, they may not realize that there is a bylaw that governs the way they can legally discharge pool water into the City’s sewer system.

As of June 2008, changes were made to the City of Toronto’s Sewer Use Bylaw, addressing the discharge of pool water from privately owned swimming pools, hot tubs and spas into the City’s sewer system. The new changes include mandatory adherence to Environmental Best Management Practices, which are supported by the Pool and Hot Tub Council of Canada, to prevent or limit discharges in order to protect the natural environment (creeks, rivers and streams).

Water from pools, hot tubs and spas is filled with chemicals such as chlorine/bromine, salt, copper-based algaecides and more. These chemicals are harmful to the fish and organisms that live in water systems across Toronto and in Lake Ontario.

Owners of pools, hot tubs and spas must ensure that chlorine/bromine levels are below .01 mg/L prior to releasing water into the storm sewer system. Since these chemicals dissipate on their own, leaving the pool uncovered for two weeks is usually enough time to reduce the levels to a legal amount. A neutralizer can also be used to reduce the levels of chlorine/bromine to an acceptable level.

The water from salt water pools has high levels of chlorides and cannot be discharged into the storm sewer system - it must be carefully discharged into the sanitary system by way of temporary or permanent connection to the sanitary sewer system or onto the property of the pool owner. Salt water pool owners choosing to make a permanent connection from their pool to the sanitary sewer system must obtain a permit from Toronto Building.

Water from pools, hot tubs and spas can never be discharged into or near the ground level of a ravine or valley. Their water can cause erosion to the land banks and serious damage to vegetation.

For more information or to view the Environmental Best Management Practices for private swimming pools, hot tubs/spas in Toronto, visit, e-mail or call 416-394-8447.

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years, Toronto has won numerous awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto’s government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Media contact:
Cheryl San Juan, Senior Communications Co-ordinator, 416-392-8259,



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