downspout

This multi-phase program will reduce the risk of basement flooding. It will also limit environmental concerns caused by directly connecting downspouts to the sanitary sewer system. These connections increase the flow of rainwater into the sanitary sewer system during heavy or long rain events. This can cause:

  • The sanitary sewer system to overflow
  • Sanitary sewer backups
  • Basement flooding

This program also enforces the existing City of Markham Sewer By-Law # 2014-71 [PDF] [Clauses 3.1D & 19.11]. It also enforces the Region of York’s Sewage and Land Drainage By-Law # S-0064-2005-009, which prohibits the discharge of roof drainage water into the sanitary sewer system.

This program will be done in five phases, but this is subject to change.

Phase 1 Program Area

The first phase of the program began in May, 2013 within the Thornhill area. The investigations and testing work within the Phase 1 Area [PDF] was finished in April 2014. The downspout disconnection work has been finished. Flow monitoring within the area started in Spring/Summer 2016.

Phase 2 Program Area

The second phase of the program began in May, 2014 within the Thornhill Area. The investigation and testing work with Phase 2 Area [PDF] was finished in April 2015. The notice of disconnection was mailed out to affected homeowners in June, 2015. The downspout disconnection work has been finished. Flow monitoring within the area commenced in Spring 2017.

Phase 3 Program Area

The third phase of the program began in May, 2015. It covered areas within Thornhill, Milliken, and Unionville. The investigation and testing work within the Phase 3 Area [PDF] ended in April, 2016. The downspout disconnection work has been finished.

Phase 4 Program Area

The fourth phase of the program began in May, 2016 within the Markham Area. The investigations and testing work within the Phase 4 Area [PDF] ended in February 2017. The notice of disconnection was mailed out to affected homeowners in September 2017.

Phase 5 Program Area

The fifth phase of the program began in May 2017, which covers area within Thornhill and Unionville. The investigation and testing work within the Phase 5 Area [PDF] was completed in November 2017. The notice of disconnection will be mailed out to the affected homeowners in Fall 2018 and the disconnection period will end in Fall 2019. Post condition flow monitoring within the area will commence in Spring/Summer 2020.

Phase 5 Expansion Program Area

The fifth phase expansion of the program began in September 2017, which covers area within Thornhill and Markham Village. The investigation and testing work within the Phase 5 Expansion Area [PDF] has been starting since November 2017.

Phase 6 Program Area

The sixth phase of the program began in September 2017, which covers areas within Unionville and Markham Village. The investigation and testing work within the Phase 6 Area [PDF] will commence in June 2018.

smoke testingSteps taken by City to identify downspout discharge locations

Before any downspouts are disconnected, the City needs to confirm whether the downspouts that go into the ground are actually connected to the municipal sanitary sewer system. To do this, the City takes following steps:

  1. Preliminary property investigation
    We do general surveys of residential lots to see whether downspouts are discharging above the ground or into the ground.
  2. Sanitary & storm sewer smoke testing
    We do smoke testing within the sanitary and storm sewer systems. This involves blowing a non-toxic, highly visible smoke through the systems and observing the exit points of the smoke. This test finds whether downspouts that go into the ground are connected into the sanitary sewer system or the storm sewer system. The smoke test also identifies other devices/equipment that are connected to the underground sewer system.

Identified downspouts that discharge into the municipal sanitary sewer system

After the investigations and testing are finished, the City will send a Notice of Disconnection to homes with downspouts connected to the sanitary sewer system. The notice will tell you which downspouts within your property need to be disconnected. We will send you more information about how to disconnect a downspout and use rain barrels when the downspout disconnection stage starts.

Financial Assistance Plan

Markham Council has approved a Financial Assistance Plan for the Sanitary System Downspout Disconnection Program. This will help homeowners with the cost to disconnect downspouts from the sanitary sewer.

Only homeowners who receive a disconnection notice from the City will be eligible.

  • The City will reimburse 80% of the cost for completing the downspout disconnection, up to a maximum of $500;
  • The City will reimburse 100% of the cost for a rain barrel purchased by the home owner, up to a maximum of $150.

Ask for Partial Cost Reimbursement

You can ask for part of your costs to be paid by the city. Follow these steps:

  1. Fill out the Financial Assistance Application Form [PDF] and send it to the City. Include all original/photocopy receipts by mail, e-mail, or fax. Please write "Downspout Disconnect - Financial Assistance Application" in your submission.
  2. Once the City receives your application package, City staff will contact you to inspect the disconnected downspouts.
  3. Once the City sees that the downspouts have been disconnected properly, we will process your application and send you a cheque.

disconnecting downspoutHow to disconnect a downspout

  • Ensure there is a suitable area for the water to discharge from the downspout
  • Ensure downspouts are disconnected and drained properly away from the foundation walls and directly to a storage device (e.g. a rain barrel), your lawn, or garden.
  • When disconnecting downspouts, remember not to drain directly onto neighbouring properties, lanes, or sidewalks.
  • Extend your downspout to discharge water at least 1 metre from any structure's foundation (including your neighbour’s) or public sidewalk, and 2.5 metres from retaining walls.
  • Ensure the ground slopes away from the house for a minimum of 1 metre.
  • Use a splash pad to help direct the flow of water and protect against erosion.
  • Ensure eavestroughs are clean and drain properly.
  • Obtain professional advice and service from a knowledgeable and licensed roofer, eavestrough contractor, or civil engineer.

Read this Step-by-step procedure to disconnect your downspouts [PDF]

Using Rain Barrels

Rain barrels collect rainwater from downspouts and rooftops. They decrease the amount of storm water runoff that leaves your property. A rain barrel collects water and stores it for those times that you need it most. Using rain barrels can help you lower your water bill and improve your lawns, plants, flowers, and trees.

Rain barrels are easy to install and provide relatively clean water for non-drinking purposes. Here are some tips:

  • Install a splash pad with the rain barrel. Put it under the barrel’s tap and overflow spout to direct roof water away from your home’s foundation walls.
  • Install the rain barrel on a strong, level surface. It can weigh up to 1200 pounds when full! A patio or paving stone is best.
  • If the rain barrel is slightly elevated, attach a hose to direct water towards a garden or lawn via gravity.
  • To limit mosquito-breeding, ensure that your rain barrel is mosquito/vector proof. Most manufactured rain barrels come with this feature.
  • Drain your rain barrel before each storm event. This will let it fill up when it rains, and will stop it from cracking in the winter.

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