29 Mar Torontos’ Downspout Disconnect, Explained
By this point I am sure everyone has heard about the mandatory downspout disconnect by-law that is being implemented across Toronto. Unfortunately it can be a little confusing as to when and who is required to comply with this, not to mention what the benefits are. Let me start by saying there are numerous reasons to reduce the amount of runoff water that makes it to the sewers and eventually the rivers and lakes. If you would like to learn more about the environmental benefits of this by-law click here.
Following are the three phases of the disconnect program.
Phase 1: requires property owners located in the central area of the city where storm-water and sanitary drainage are combined into a single pipe to disconnect their home’s downspout from the sewer system by November 20, 2011. This is important because during a flood, raw sewage could overflow into the streets and rivers. Disconnecting the downspouts in these areas decreases the strain on an already limited sewer infrastructure.
Phase 2: includes the basement flooding study areas. The disconnection deadline for these areas is December 3, 2013. This obviously will help prevent your basement from flooding as well as the added benefit of reducing the strain on the storm water system.
Phase 3: requires property owners in the remaining areas of the city to disconnect by December 3, 2016. This phase will be strictly an environmental benefit. The building code for the city will have been changed to make sure new homes and subdivisions are built to accommodate the extra rainwater runoff, but at this time, everyone in the city will be required to have disconnected there downspouts from the storm sewers.
It is reflectively easy to disconnect a downspout and redirect it into the surrounding grass or garden.
In some cases disconnecting the downspout will create a hazardous condition in the spring and fall due to the runoff freezing an causing ice patches. In other cases it is just not feasible. Homeowners can apply for an exemption here if disconnecting is not an option.