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Storm & Sanitary Sewers

Burnaby's Storm Sewer System collects storm water, or rainwater runoff, from all impermeable surfaces (buildings, roads, parking lots, etc.) and discharges it into the waters that surround Burnaby, including the Burrard Inlet and the Fraser River.

Burnaby’s Sanitary Sewer System collects sewage from homes and businesses and conveys it through a network of pipes and pump stations to Metro Vancouver's trunk network and treatment plants.

For more than 30 years, Burnaby has been upgrading its sewer systems, neighbourhood by neighbourhood, changing from “combined” sewer systems to “separated” sewer systems that separate rainwater from wastewater.

To date, we have made great progress. Only seven per cent of Burnaby still requires separation — in the Burnaby Heights and Glenbrook neighbourhoods.

Storm Sewers

Over 460 kilometres of storm sewers, and a similar number of ditches, drain into our creeks and streams and end up in one of three major rivers near Burnaby. Storm water from North Burnaby ends up in the Burrard Inlet, the Central Valley area drains into Still Creek, the Brunette River and eventually into the Fraser River, while South Burnaby's creeks and streams end up in the North Arm of the Fraser River.

We maintain pipes and ditches to ensure that water flows uninterrupted to these outlets while mitigating risk of flooding to homes and businesses. We work closely with local environmental stewardship groups and fishery agencies to ensure that our activities are environmentally responsible, and with Environmental Services division to track spills and minimize the effects that a spill might cause.

Sanitary Sewers

Sewer staff is responsible for operating and maintaining 690 kilometres of sanitary and combined sewer mains, 23 pump stations, and over 36,000 service connections.  

Typical maintenance activities involve cleaning sewers using sewer flush trucks, inspecting and repairing manholes, repairing broken sewer mains and services and inflow and infiltration management. 

Combined Sewer Separation Program

Combined sewer systems collect sanitary sewage and storm water in a single sewer system. During wet weather these older combined sewer systems can't carry all the sewage flows to regional treatment plants, and by design, discharge excess combined sewer flows through outfalls to the Burrard Inlet and Fraser River. Overflows negatively impact the environment, so the City of Burnaby has committed to a remedial plan to eliminate all existing combined sewers and construct new separated sewage systems in their place. To date, the City of Burnaby has invested nearly $40 million and successfully separated nearly half of its original 85 km of combined sewer inventory. The City of Burnaby’s commitment to combined sewer separation is outlined in our regional Liquid Waste Management Plan.

Why Separate Sewers?

We separate sewers to ensure a cleaner environment.

In old “combined,” single-pipe systems, rainwater combines with wastewater (from residential and industrial properties). Sometimes, sewers that are combined – usually during extreme weather conditions – allow untreated sewage to overflow into Burrard Inlet (from Burnaby Heights) or the Fraser River (from Glenbrook) because the pipes and wastewater treatment plant don’t have the capacity to receive all the wastewater for treatment.

The installation of a twinned pipe system will eliminate overflows of untreated wastewater, providing immediate environmental benefits to the waters of Burrard Inlet or the Fraser River, where the wastewater is otherwise released, during large rain events.

Fully Upgraded Sewer System

Upgraded by homeowner and the City:

Fully Upgraded Sewer System 

Legacy Sewer System

Combined sewer from home to combined sewer in street:

Legacy Sewer System

Partially Upgraded Sewer System

Separated sewer in street with original combined sewer on homeowner's property. Because wastewater is not separated at the home, environmental benefits of new separated pipes are not fully realized. A grant opportunity for separation is currently available for homeowners.

Partially Upgraded Sewer System

You May Be Eligible for a Grant to Separate the Sewer Lines on your Property

The environmental benefits made possible by the new sewer lines being brought to your property line can only be fully realized when the combined connection on your property is also separated into two separate lines (one for wastewater, one for rainwater). Your onsite sewer lines would then connect to the City’s new separated sewer systems, in the street. Without separation on your property, the wastewater from your home, combined with rainwater, will continue to be directed to the wastewater line for water requiring treatments and could overflow into the Burrard Inlet or the Fraser River during a rainy period.

Residences and businesses in older areas likely have a single connection carrying sewage exiting the structure, not the needed dual pipes.

Because of the environmental benefits it would provide, the city is currently offering eligible homeowners a grant (up to $2,500) to offset the cost of upgrading your combined sewer connection that runs from your home to the new city lines.

If you would like to learn more about this opportunity, please contact: 604-294-7460 or engineering@burnaby.ca.

Residents and businesses in Burnaby Heights and Glenbrook neighbourhoods should expect to see continued construction activity as the City separates combined sewers, replaces water systems and undergoes related road restoration. Learn more about the current Capital Works Program.

Please visit Public Works to learn more about our department, or our frequently asked questions for help.