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Water and Wastewater Department

Water distribution and wastewater treatment services are funded through user fees; no tax dollars are collected to provide City water services. 

The City of Owen Sound Water/Wastewater Department is responsible for the following:

The Drinking Water Source Protection Committee for the Saugeen, Grey Sauble, Northern Bruce Peninsula Region has completed Source Protection Plans. These plans include policies to reduce the risk of contamination and overuse to local drinking water sources. To learn more about Drinking Water Source Protection and view reports on local drinking water sources visit

The City of Owen Sound Water Treatment and Distribution System consists of approximately 142 kilometers of pipe and services approximately 7000 connections. It includes two booster stations, the reservoir and the Water Treatment Plant. The distribution system consists of multiple pressure zones.

Additional information is available on Grey Bruce Health Unit's water information webpage.

The City of Owen Sound Wastewater Collection System consists of approximately 111 kilometers of pipe and services approximately 7000 connections. It includes several minor pumping stations and one major pumping stations. It discharges to the Owen Sound Wastewater Treatment Plant located north of the Bayshore Community Centre.

The Treatment Plant is currently being upgraded to secondary treatment.

On January 10th 2022 the City of Owen Sound passed a Backflow Prevention By-law. The  by-law’s purpose is to ensure that the city continues to provide safe and high-quality drinking water to our community by decreasing the chance of backflow into our municipal drinking water system.

The City is legally responsible under the Safe Drinking Water Act, Section 19, Standard of Care to exercise due diligence in the operation of its water system. The installation of backflow preventers is a requirement for specific types of buildings under Section 7 of the Ontario Building Code.  Specifically, this bylaw applies to Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional properties in the City.

The City will cover the cost of the building premise isolation backflow preventor on water and fire service under this program. Either the City’s Backflow Coordinator (a licensed plumber) will install the backflow preventer, or, in the case of some larger installations, a plumber retained by the building owner will install the required device and the building owner will be reimbursed the cost. The building owner will be given a list of qualified contractors that can install and or test these backflow preventers.

This by-law won’t impact residential property owners. In residential buildings, there are limited cross connections and lower risks.

What is Backflow?

Backflow is the undesired reversal of water flow within a plumbing system. This can occur two ways:

  1. Backpressure: The pressure within a building is greater than the drinking water system pressure. This results in the water within that building being forced backward and into the drinking water system. 
  2. Back Siphonage: The pressure in the drinking water system is decreased to a negative pressure resulting in the water within the building being siphoned into the drinking water system.

In these instances, the unprotected cross connections to the drinking water system can contain contaminants which can be drawn or forced back into the drinking water piping and distributed throughout the City water system. This can result in unsafe drinking water on the property and in the entire drinking water system, putting the citizens of the community at risk.

What is a Cross-Connection?

A cross-connection is any connection between drinking water and any source of pollution or contamination.  Cross connections pose a hazard to the drinking water system if backflow were to occur, causing contaminated water to enter the drinking water system.

What is a Backflow Prevention device?

A Backflow prevention device is a mechanical device installed on a water service downstream of the water meter to prevent backflow.

What steps is the City of Owen Sound taking?

The City of Owen Sound has already conducted a cross connection survey of the plumbing in properties that will require a backflow preventor. In this survey the risk of contamination was assessed for cross connections at these buildings.  Buildings will require a level of backflow protection appropriate to the level of risk.

The next step will be for the City to contact the property owners/managers and plan to have their backflow preventer installed.

Going forward after the installation of the backflow preventors, it will be the property owner’s responsibility to:

  • Ensure their backflow prevention devices are tested and maintained every year by a certified backflow preventer tester.
  • Have the tester submit the testing reports to the City (or their representative)

To comply with the City’s by-law, testable backflow preventers shall be field tested at the following times:

  • Upon installation
  • When cleaned, repaired, or overhauled
  • When relocated
  • When property ownership changes
  • Annually

The residents of Owen Sound can have the greatest confidence that all steps are being taken to ensure that our municipal drinking water continues to be clean and safe for everyone. 


If you have a water-related issue, please Report A Concern here

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