Hamilton Private Fire Line and Sewer Discharge Permits FAQs

Please find the answers to our frequently asked questions below. Choose Private Fire Line or Sewer Discharge Permits below to learn more information. 

Private Fire Line FAQs

Please read our Private Fire Line Fee Customer Advisement Letter to find out more about private fire lines.

What is Private Fire Protection?

Private Fire Protection is any added fire protection system to the public fire protection system available. The public systems are public fire hydrants and supporting infrastructures.

Private and public fire protection systems rely on the public water system for their water supply. They include booster pumps, sprinkler systems, private fire hydrants, and more. These all use the public water system to protect and suppress fires.

What is the Private Fire Protection charge on my Alectra Utilities water bill?

The Private Fire Protection Charge is a charge from the City of Hamilton. It only applies to customers that have private fire protection systems that use the public water system. The charge is for the fire water service line systems that do not have a meter.

Why is there a fee for Private Fire Protection?

The people who use the City of Hamilton water supply pay for a share of the public fire protection systems throughout the entire water systems. The most visible part of the fire protection system is the street fire hydrant. Fire hydrants have a complex system of pumps, pipes, and water reservoirs that create the water pressure needed. The fee pays for the maintenance required to ensure enough treated water for everyone and public fire protection systems to use. It makes sure water mains, booster pumps, and storage facilities are the proper sizes.

Customers have a public fire protection system for their fire protection needs without the cost. But, if a customer requires more fire protection for their property that uses an unmetered public water supply line, they must pay for it. The charge makes sure that users pay for their share of the system that supports their private fire protection systems.

How was the Private Fire Protection fee determined?

The most common method of charging for a private fire service is to base the charge on the size of the customer’s unmetered fire service connection. The serving size is the amount of the City’s water supply available if there’s a fire. The city developed a fixed charge (sewer surcharge is not applied) for having an unmetered private fire service line. The bills combine the fixed charges and service lines that provide water. The city used the American Water Works Association (AWWA) factor table to develop the rates for fire lines based on service line diameter. The City also reviewed private fire line rates in other cities to find an appropriate rate.

What is the current rate for Private Fire Protection?

The city sets the unmetered fire service line’s size and the property as the current rate schedule for private fire protection. The City Council approved the following rates (effective January 1, 2023):

Unmetered Service

Size of Connection

Monthly Rate

25 mm (1")

38mm (1.5")

50mm (2")

75mm (3")

100mm (4")

150mm (6")

200mm (8")

250mm (10")

300mm (12")

How does the unmetered fire service line fee compare to the fixed charges applicable to metered lines?

The current fixed charges for metered water lines (effective January 1, 2023) are more significant than the fees for an unmetered fire line. 

Hamilton's Fixed Private Fire Line Monthly Charges

Meter Size in Millimeters

Meter Size in Inches

Monthly Charge for Metered Lines

Monthly Charge for Unmetered Lines





































Do other cities have Private Fire Protection fees?

Yes, many North American municipalities have private fire protection fees. Some areas need meters on all water service lines (including dedicated private fire line services). When there is a metered line, there are no extra fees than those measured.

I never use or have never used my fire protection system. Why do I have to pay a fee for this?

Whether you use your fire protection system or not, it does not determine the fees. The presence of an unmetered water service line for fire protection is what determines the price. The only reason you won’t have to pay a fee is if the service is completely disconnected from the City’s water main.

A public or private fire protection system supplied by the public water supply must be ready 24/7. The necessary pumps, pipes, back-up power supplies, and storage facilities must be in place to provide water on an immediate basis. The City has, over time, had to oversize servicing to properties with private fire protection systems.  Public and private system owners must pay for the city’s maintenance for their fire protection lines.

How do I know if I have a Private Fire Protection system?

A Private Fire Protection system is present if there are sprinklers, private fire hydrants, booster pumps, or more. The water supplied to the Private Fire Protection system may come from a separate water line that is not metered. This line is only for the fire protection/suppression system (known as a fire line).

The supply for fire protection may also be from a water line that supplies both the domestic needs of the business and the fire protection needs. This is called a combined fire line, and the city requires a meter on these lines.

Where does the revenue from the Private Fire Protection fee go?

The city’s Water, Wastewater, and Stormwater Rate budget accounts get the private fire protection fees revenue.

Provincial legislation requires municipal water and sewage systems to be sustainable. It must balance the protection and health of the citizens and the environment. So, the city’s Rate budget must be self-sufficient. The water and wastewater user fees the City collects must fund and support the city’s water, wastewater, and stormwater systems. The Rate budget does not receive any property tax funding.

Sewer Discharge Permits FAQs

Please read our 2023 Water & Wastewater Storm Rates – Sewer Discharge Permits Insert to learn more about sewer discharge permits.

What is an Overstrength Discharge Permit?

Industrial, commercial, and institutional (IC&I) customers get this permit when they exceed treatable parameters. The City’s Sewer use By-law No. 14-090 (By-law), as amended, to establish the parameters we use. The City’s wastewater treatment plant can treat the following: Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), Suspended Solids, Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Oil & Grease (animal/vegetable).

What is the Overstrength Treatment charge on my Alectra Utilities bill?

The Overstrength Treatment Charge is from the City of Hamilton. It applies to customers that got issued an Overstrength Discharge Permit. It helps the City of Hamilton recover the costs of conveyance, treatment, and sewage monitoring that exceeds the limits. 

The formula used to determine overstrength treatment charge follows:

Treatment Charge payable per parameter = concentration - Sewer Use By-law limit × quantity of discharge × overstrength discharge fee for the parameter

How is the Overstrength Concentration measured?

Upon applying for a Sewer Discharge Permit, the customer can choose one of the following options:
•    Average - the City calculates the average concentration for each parameter based on two weeks’ worth of sampling and analysis data.
•    Actual - the applicant provides actual and ongoing sampling and analysis data for each parameter when the permit is in effect and at a specified frequency.

City of Hamilton staff will then conduct audit samples. The City’s Environmental Laboratory analyzes these samples to determine compliance with the permit and whether the billing concentration outlined in the permit is valid.

How is the Quantity of Discharge Measured?

When you apply for a Sewer Discharge Permit, you can choose one of the following options:
•    You install a flow measuring device to measure and report the quantity of discharge to a sewer works
•    Water consumption records

How is the Overstrength Discharge fee determined?

The By-law that the city council approved established the city of Hamilton’s Water and Wastewater/Stormwater fees. And each treatable parameter develops the Overstrength Discharge fee.

What is a Surcharge Discharge Permit (formerly Sanitary Sewer Surcharge Agreement)?

Surcharge Discharge Permit (formerly Sanitary Sewer Surcharge Agreements) allows the City of Hamilton to charge sewer users directly to treat sewage discharge. This charge is for water that does not originate from the City’s potable water supply, for example, water from Lake Ontario.

What is the Surcharge Treatment charge on my Alectra Utilities bill?

The Surcharge Treatment Charge is a charge from the City of Hamilton that applies to customers with a Surcharge Discharge Permit. It allows the City of Hamilton a mechanism to recover the costs of conveyance, treatment, and monitoring of sewage that the customer did not initially purchase from the City of Hamilton’s water supply.

For example, an IC&I customer could take water from Lake Ontario or a well system and discharge this water as sewage to the City’s sewer system. Additionally, a customer could extract water during the manufacturing process and discharge it into the City’s sewer system.

The formula used to determine surcharge discharge fees is as follows:

Discharge fee payable = quantity of discharge × wastewater/storm treatment charge (as set by the City annually in the Water and Wastewater/Storm Fees By-law)

For example, an industrial user consumes 1,000 cubic meters of water provided by the City and, per its effluent meter, discharges 1,500 cubic meters of sewage into the City sewer system. The resulting surcharge treatment charge is the sewage exceeding the amount provided by the City of 500 cubic meters at the 2019 wastewater rate of $1.68 per cubic meter = $840.00.

How is the Surcharge Treatment quantity measured?

When applying for a Sewer Discharge Permit, you can choose one of the following options to measure the quantity:
•    You can install a flow measuring device to measure the quantity of discharge to a sewer works.
•    You pay for a Water Balance Study that can be conducted when installing a flow measuring device is not possible. The Water Balance Study report shall:

  1.  Cover a minimum period of five calendar days over a minimum of three separate occasions and include at least one balance showing seasonal variation or shutdowns
  2.  Record all water originating from the City’s potable water supply (if applicable)
  3.  Measure all water originating from a source other than the City’s potable water supply, which will be discharged from the premises to a sewer works
  4.  Be completed and certified by a qualified professional engineer, licenced in the Province of Ontario
  5.  Be submitted with this Application Form
How is the Surcharge Treatment fee determined?

The City of Hamilton’s Water & Wastewater/Stormwater Fees Bylaw as approved by City Council, establishes the wastewater variable rate which forms the basis for the Surcharge Treatment fee.

Who do I contact regarding questions of my Overstrength or Surcharge Treatment charges?

Contact the City of Hamilton Environment Enforcement Officer with any questions regarding Overstrength or Surcharge Treatment charges. The contact information is on the charges detail worksheet that Alectra includes with the sewer discharge permit invoices quarterly.

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