Downspout Disconnection Program FAQ

Halton Region is implementing a program to encourage homeowners to disconnect their downspouts from the wastewater sewer system. Beginning this summer to the end of 2015, representatives of Halton Region will be going door-to-door to approximately 12,000 homes in areas of Burlington and Milton to speak with homeowners about disconnecting downspouts. The representatives will explain the program, examine the downspouts and describe how the downspouts would be disconnected if conditions permit. If homeowners agree, a disconnection will be arranged at no cost.

 

The Region’s Downspout Disconnection Program is only offered through Halton Region and will be conducted by Halton Region representatives. The cost of this work is fully funded by the Region. If you are approached by an external organization, please note any work performed by that organization will not be fully covered by this program.

Any representatives administering this program will wear Halton Region shirts and carry Halton Region identification. They will also be handing out information with the Halton Region logo, including a pamphlet and/or door hanger (see images at right side). If you have questions about the program or representatives going door to door, please dial 311 for more information.

1. Why is the Region arranging to disconnect downspouts?

As a result of climate change, municipalities are experiencing more severe storms than ever before and Halton Region is committed to addressing the impacts of these weather changes and protecting the safety of residents for the long term.

The Region recently completed a comprehensive Region-wide Basement Flooding Mitigation Study to review the state of our wastewater sewer system and contributing factors to basement flooding. The Study found that the Region’s wastewater system is in good condition and well maintained, but too much stormwater is getting into the sewer system during extreme storm events causing basement flooding. Downspouts from roofs directly connected to the wastewater system are a major contributing factor to overloading the sewer system and causing basement flooding.

Additional studies have shown that as few as five to 10 homes with direct downspout connections can overwhelm the capacity of local water systems during rainfall events. Disconnecting downspouts will reduce the potential of future overloading of the Region’s wastewater system.

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2. How does disconnecting my downspout help prevent basement flooding?

In certain homes, downspouts are directly connected to the wastewater system. In these homes, rain that falls onto the roof flows directly into the system, which can overload it and cause sewer backups and basement flooding.

To reduce the potential for future basement flooding in Halton, downspouts should be directed to the surface to allow the rainwater to naturally infiltrate into the ground.

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3. I have not experienced flooding in my basement so why should I agree to disconnect my downspouts?

Keeping rainwater out of the wastewater system is everyone’s responsibility and to everyone’s benefit. By disconnecting downspouts, homeowners help themselves and their neighbours reduce the potential for basement flooding. Disconnected downspouts also help protect the environment by preventing overflows from the wastewater system entering into our lake, rivers, creeks, and streams.

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4. Why are you focusing only on certain areas in Burlington and Milton?

The first focus of the Downspout Disconnection Program is in areas most recently impacted by multiple incidents of basement flooding in Burlington and Milton, including the August 4, 2014 rain storm. Halton Region will eventually be asking all residents across the Region who have downspouts connected to the wastewater system to disconnect them.

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5. How do I know if I’m included in the identified priority areas?

The Region will be conducting the work over the summer and fall for more than 12,000 homes, and letters notifying homeowners about the program in the identified areas will be sent out in stages.

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6. I am in a basement flooding identified area but my neighbour is not. Why?

This voluntary Downspout Disconnection Program is initially rolling out in the identified areas most affected by basement flooding in recent severe weather events. Halton Region will eventually be asking all residents across the Region who have downspouts connected to the wastewater system to disconnect them.

For this initial program, two houses may be next to each other but belong to different sewersheds. Only the sewersheds that have homes in the areas impacted by multiple incidents of basement flooding in Burlington and Milton are included in the program. A sewershed is an area where all properties are connected to a common sewer line.

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7. Who will be visiting my home and conducting the work for the program?

Representatives from Halton Region will be visiting homes to conduct the inspections and perform the disconnections. These representatives will carry Halton Region identification and will show this identification to you. The work is fully funded by the Region and is at no cost to the homeowner, therefore representatives will not be asking for any deposit in advance or payment from you. If you have any questions about these visits, please dial 311.

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8. What if I am not home when representatives come to my neighbourhood?

If you are not home at the time of the visit, a door hanger will be left at your house. It will include details about the program and contact information for you to arrange a follow-up visit. You can also dial 311 if you have questions or would like to schedule a visit.

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9. What is involved in disconnecting my downspouts?

Representatives from Halton Region will ask permission to go onto your property for an inspection and then arrange with you to have the downspouts disconnected if needed. The work will typically involve the cutting of the downspout near the ground level, and attaching an elbow and an extension of the pipe to allow the water to flow onto the ground. Downspout splash pads will also be provided as needed to prevent erosion of lawns and gardens.

A properly disconnected downspout and splash pad
Example of a properly disconnected downspout and splash pad
(click to enlarge image of a properly disconnected downspout and splash pad)
A connected downspout
Example of a connected downspout
(click to enlarge image of a connected downspout)

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10. Do all downspouts on my property need to be disconnected?

Ideally all downspouts should be disconnected, but in some cases conditions may not allow for the disconnections. The representatives will assess each property and advise homeowners if downspouts can be disconnected.

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11. How will I give my permission for the work to be completed?

The Region’s representatives will discuss with you the work to be done to disconnect your downspouts. If you agree to the work, you will be asked to sign a waiver form providing your permission for us to come back and complete the work. We recognize the importance of your time and do not require you to be there when our contractors return to disconnect your downspouts.

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12. Can I choose not to have my downspout disconnected?

The Region’s Downspout Disconnection Program is a voluntary program. We encourage all residents to participate. By disconnecting your downspout, you will be helping yourself, your neighbours and the environment.

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13. I’ve already disconnected. Will I get my money back?

The 100 per cent regionally-funded Downspout Disconnection Program is for homes in the identified areas that currently have downspouts connected. Halton Region will reimburse homeowners who have already disconnected their downspouts for 50 per cent of the cost (to a maximum of $250) through the Basement Flooding Prevention Subsidy program, provided that they have their bills/invoices. All Halton residents are eligible under this subsidy program. Get more information about the subsidy program or dial 311 for more information.

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14. Where can I get more information about downspout disconnections?

Representatives from Halton Region will be going door-to-door and providing you with information about the Downspout Disconnection Program. This information will include program-specific details and how homeowners can help reduce overloading the wastewater system. Get more information about the program and downspouts or dial 311 for more information.

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15. Can I have this work conducted by another company?

 

The Region’s Downspout Disconnection Program is only offered through Halton Region and will be conducted by Halton Region representatives. The cost of this work is fully funded by the Region. If you are approached by an external organization, please note any work performed by that organization will not be fully covered by this program.

Any representatives administering this program will wear Halton Region shirts and carry Halton Region identification. They will also be handing out information with the Halton Region logo, including a pamphlet and/or door hanger (see images at right side). If you have questions about the program or representatives going door to door, please dial 311 for more information.

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