News release

Pollution in Mississauga’s Stormwater System Affects Everyone

City services | March 18, 2021

Commercial and industrial spills happen. They can release chemicals, waste or other hazardous materials into the environment, some of which can affect our drinking water. When a commercial or industrial spill happens, businesses and/or commercial property owners must report details of the spill immediately to the Government of Ontario – Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, Spills Action Centre at 1-800-268-6060. Spills can be liquids (e.g. cooking oil, grease, ink, automotive fluids), powders (e.g. dye) or pelletized materials (e.g. tiny plastic pellets) that flow into the private drainage system which is connected to the City’s stormwater system.

Why does this matter? The City’s stormwater system carries rainwater and melted snow and ice to Mississauga creeks and rivers, and into Lake Ontario. Water from this Great Lake is pumped and treated by the Region of Peel to provide drinking water for residents and businesses. Cleaner lake water is less costly to process into drinking water. When spills happen, they must quickly be stopped, contained and safely disposed of by licensed haulers.

It’s important for businesses to take the proper steps to prevent stormwater pollution, and be prepared to deal effectively and legally with accidental spills at their facility when they happen. Businesses can create and implement a Spill Response Plan, train staff on implementation and keep a professional contractor on retainer for spills too large to manage internally.

Spills move fast. The longer it takes to report a spill, the harder it will be to contain the spill, increasing the liability of the business for damages. Failing to report a spill carries a fine under City Storm Sewer By-law 259-05. If the spilled material enters a storm drain, spill clean-up may also require tracing, containment and removal of the spilled material and also restoration of damaged stormwater infrastructure. If the spilled material reaches the waters of a local creek, the spilled material must be pumped out and safely disposed of and the creek channel properly restored. In addition to Municipal by-laws, Provincial and Federal regulations, charges and fines may also be involved.

Although many small accidental spills are properly reported and cleaned up by companies annually, roughly 60-80 significant spill incidents are responded to in Mississauga each year where the spill was reported by City inspectors, the general public or other public agencies.

Learn more about how businesses can prevent stormwater pollution and spills:

Red powdered dye on ground beside catchbasin
A red dye spill near a catchbasin with absorbent material in place
creek with red water from red dye
A spill of red dye in the City’s stormwater system discharging to a creek