IMPORTANT NOTICE: February 2019 Billing
Please note a number of the February 2019 utility notices mailed out were accidentally printed twice and some residents received two copies of the same bill.
THIS IS NOT A DOUBLE-BILLING.
Residents only need to pay one of the notices as long as the account number on both bills is the same.
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About City Utilities
The City of Prince George's Utilities Division is responsible for providing the city with clean drinking water, sanitary sewer treatment, and storm water management, and heat through the downtown renewable energy system. Staff and crews help supply water resources, maintaining adequate firefighting water flows and pressures, sustain sufficient sanitary sewer lift station capacities, treat sewage, and manage storm water during high run-off periods.
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The City supplies, pumps, treats, stores, and distributes an average 189 million litres of water daily, to City residents. The water infrastructure has more than 550 kilometres of distribution pipes, 10 pump stations, 15 reservoirs, and six wells.
The city's water comes from a series of water wells within the city, and along the Nechako River:
- Six municipal wells draw 18 billion litres of water each year from underground aquifers.
- Using underground aquifers ensures that residents are protected against bacteria and other pollutants found in surface sources such as lakes or rivers.
- Raw water is chlorinated according to guidelines set by the Northern Health Authority. The amount of chlorine is monitored daily to maintain system-wide balance, and to ensure the highest safety levels for all residents.
- Certified City operators routinely sample the water supply for quality and safety, using accredited laboratories.
- Treated water is pumped to and stored in 15 service reservoirs.
- Water is supplied to homes from water supply well pumps or from one of the reservoirs.
For more information:
Merits of City-Supplied Drinking Water
City operators monitor water quality on a continuous basis through manual sampling and on site automatic instrumentation.
Prince George's tap water is fresh as it is continually extracted from the environment and consumed. Bottled water can be weeks, even months old, depending on the source. The safety of City water is equal or better than bottled water, and no additional treatment is required.
Water Sampling and Testing
Approximately 90 samples are taken every month and sent to the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) with the goal of having zero coliforms present. The City's disinfection practices maintain product integrity and purity throughout the distribution system. Safety is equal or better than bottled water. No further treatment of tap water is required.
No Cryptosporidia or Giardia (protazoal parasites) are present in the City's water due to the natural filtering of groundwater. Prince George is rated as having one of the best water systems in the province. The City's process for negative protozoal cyst control is used in BC Centre for Disease Control and University of British Columbia studies. Since 1997, Prince George has had no incidents of Cryptosporidia or Giardia (according to the Northern Health Authority).
The buffered chemistry of the City's water, and moderate amounts of calcium and hardness, dissuade the leaching of heavy metals or plasticizers out of plumbing or containers. For example, Prince George scored one of the lowest concentrations of lead in the province in a Ministry of Health survey (Northern Health).
Cross Contamination Control (CCC) Program
A cross connection is the actual or potential connection between a potable water system and any source of pollution or contamination. A backflow prevention device is required to protect municipal water quality by eliminating potential contaminants from entering any part of the municipal system from private plumbing systems through backflow. Backflow is a flow of solid, liquid, or gas from any source opposite to the normal direction of flow, back into the potable water supply or system.
All commercial, industrial and institutional must have a testable back flow prevention device and as per the City of Prince George Water Bylaw No. 7479, 2003 Section 7.2.6, all water connections with a testable backflow prevention device shall provide a test report on installation and annually thereafter.
frozen water pipes
In extremely cold weather water pipes may freeze and can rupture. Pipes are most susceptible when located:
- In an outside wall.
- Under a sink on an outside wall.
- In an unheated crawlspace.
Prevent pipes from freezing:
- Keep all rooms heated to five degrees Celsius where water lines enter buildings, or wrap lines with heat tape.
- Check heat tape to ensure they are plugged in and operational.
- Insulate all water lines that run along exterior walls, or that are located in garages and crawlspaces.
Voluntary Residential Water Meter
A Water Utility that uses water meters benefits by allowing for:
- More accurate tracking of water consumption;
- More precise knowledge on leakage within the system; and
- On-site monitoring to ensure proper billing.
Besides financial benefits, water meters also provide customers with a way to measure their consumption. This makes it easier to detect and repair leaks that can waste thousands of litres of water every year.
All questions about the Voluntary Residential Water Meter program may be directed to:
Development Services (2nd Floor City Hall)
1100 Patricia Boulevard
Prince George, BC V2L 3V9
Apply for a Voluntary Water Meter
Residents interested in signing up for a water meter will need to complete an application for a plumbing permit and an application to participate in the volunteer residential water meter program.
NOTE: The Plumbing Permit must signed by a qualified plumber. Applicants are recommended to print out Plumbing Permit form, fill it, have it signed by a plumber, and bring the form to Development Services in City Hall. For more information, phone Development Services at 250-561-7611.
- The City will incur the cost of the water meter and the plumbing permit, so the homeowner only pays for installation costs.
- Water utility bills are typically less for those with water meters than those on flat utility bills. Using less water results in even cheaper water bills.
- Results from the 2005 Volunteer Residential Water Meter Program saw water usage decline by an average of 30 per cent over a three year period.
- Ability to immediately detect leaks in the water system.
- Ability to track water consumption and understand household water usage.
The water meter will be installed by a Certified Plumber hired by the homeowner and inspected by the City of Prince George Plumbing Inspector in a timely manner. Residents cannot install their own water meter.
The City will incur the cost of the water meter and the plumbing permit. The home-owner will incur the full cost of the installation of the water meter, all pipe fittings and adapters, and any construction required to repair damage created during installation.
The water meter is installed inside a home next to the water shut-off valve. No digging is required.
The water line will be cut just after the shut-off valve and installed in line with the pipe so that all water going into a home passes through the meter first.
Once a meter is installed it cannot be removed. Homeowners will be charged based on volume used after a period of one year. Meters are read remotely by City staff.
Conserving water is critical to ensure water use in Prince George is sustainable over the years. Water consumption in Prince George is currently higher than both the provincial and national averages, but residents can do their part to help lower this statistic and save some money in doing so.
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The sanitary sewer consists of around 680 kilometres of pipe that connects residential and commercial properties to the wastewater treatment plant and lagoons. Treated wastewater is then discharged into the Fraser River and other creeks and streams.
Nearly $2 million every year goes towards operating the wastewater treatment plant, which accounts for nearly half of the $4.5 million annual cost to maintain the sanitary sewer. Another significant expenditure is associated with responding to around 500 calls the City Utilities Division receives annually about blocked sanitary sewers.
As such, it is crucial that substances and waste materials entering the sanitary sewer system do not:
- Harm the environment.
- Damage the water treatment plant.
- Complicate the treatment process.
- Pose a health threat to maintenance and repair crews.
If a matter or liquid can reasonably be thrown into the garbage, do not flush it down the toilet or wash it down the drain.
SANITARY SEWER SYSTEM BY THE NUMBERS
$4.5 million - Annual sanitary sewer operations and maintenance.
$1.9 million - Annual wastewater treatment operations.
500 - Annual number of blocked sanitary sewer service requests.
$420,000 - Annual cost of responding to blocked sanitary sewers and grease removal.
$1.7 million - Capital cost of vacuuming and flushing trucks to help remove blockages.
Sanitary Sewer Bylaw Update
The City of Prince George is working to update its sanitary sewer bylaw to better safeguard City infrastructure, protect City staff, the public, and the environment. A new bylaw is also intended to reduce sanitary sewer maintenance and wastewater treatment costs. Some of the changes being proposed are:
- Clarifying the responsibilities of the City and property owners.
- Creating a more comprehensive, fair, and effective means of compliance.
- Updating the list of prohibited and restricted substances.
- Encouraging treatment of harmful substances at the source.
- Assisting businesses in finding solutions to meet bylaw requirements.
For more information:
Sanitary Sewer Blockages
Blockages in sanitary sewer mains can cause sewage to backup into a residence. Blockages may result from:
- Vegetation roots growing into the line.
- The improper disposal of items such as grease, wipes, diapers, washing machine lint, and other items flushed down the toilet.
Failing to act in a timely manner may increase damage to property and to neighbouring properties.
What to do if a Blockage Happens
In the event of a blockage, the first step is to contact the City Service Centre at:
The City will help identify the blockage's source.
- If the blockage is in the City's sanitary sewer main, the City will clear it.
- If the blockage is not in the sanitary sewer main, the property owner is responsible for clearing it.
Non-Sanitary Sewer Main Blockages
Property owners are responsible for removing any blockages within the sanitary service connection or building sanitary sewer. The following steps should be taken:
- Contact a plumber or licensed technical for assistance.
- Residents with homeowner's or other property insurance should also notify the insurance agent to see if the claim is covered.
- Document all actions taken (calls, contacts, costs) and take photographs of any damage caused.
For more information:
Property owners must keep the sanitary cleanout (the sanitary sewer connection's access point to a building) clear.
- Do not bury or pave over the cleanout. Any damage caused in locating the cleanout is the property owner's responsibility.
- If a cleanout needs to be raised or lowered or if the cap is missing or damaged, contact the City immediately.
- Any damaged caused to the cleanout due to the property owner's negligence will be repaired by City staff at the owner's expense.
- Cleanouts located in driveways are required to be in a valve box supplied by the City and are installed by the property owner or contractor.
sanitary Sewer dos and don'ts
- Use a strainer over the drain in sinks, tubs, and showers, and empty it into the garbage, not the toilet.
- Place food scraps in the compost or garbage, scrape dishes into the garbage, not the sink.
- Use biodegradable products for cleaning and doing laundry.
- Use the manufacturer's recommended amount of detergent for cleaning (the average household uses three times more than recommended). Cutting back also saves money.
- Place a garbage can in the bathroom to dispose of solid wastes such as disposable diapers, condoms, paper towel, and personal hygiene products.
- Take pharmaceutical products to a pharmacy to be properly disposed of.
- Pour liquid fats, oils, and grease into a jar or container with a lid to cool, and then throw it in the garbage. Wipe down greasy pots and pans with a paper towel, prior to washing them, in the sink or dishwasher.
- Use the "3 Rs": Reduce, Re-use, and Recycle.
- Use the toilet as a garbage can.
- Pour fats, oil, or grease down the drain as they will solidify in the cold pipe.
- Pour sour milk down the drain (One litre of three per cent milk has enough fat in it to cover the surface of an Olympic-sized swimming pool). Dispose of it in the garbage.
- Wash food scraps, tea leaves, coffee grounds, or eggshells down the sink.
- Flush razor blades, condoms, pharmaceutical products, cigarette butts, nail polish remover, toilet rolls, or other non-biodegradable products down the toilet.
- Pour chemicals, paint, motor oil, pesticides, or any other harmful products down the drain. Check recycling depots for disposal information. Note: Improper disposal may result in fines.
- Flush out a commercial grease interceptor with hot water to clean it or wash it in the dishwasher. Remove all grease and dispose of it appropriately.
- Use excessive detergent, as it contains large amounts of oil, grease, and fat. It makes cleaning and treating waste water difficult and costly. This will result in less phosphate entering the water table, and will prevent excess algae growth in the water.
repair and reimbursements
The City will be responsible for any defects identified in the service connection. Any repairs required on the building's sanitary sewer side are the property owner's responsibility.
Reimbursement will be provided if the defect is within the service connection up to a maximum of:
- $185.00 for CCTV work
- $30.00 for a service locate
- $20.00 dollars for a DVD (plus tax),
If there are issues or problems on both sides, a partial reimbursement may be possible. This refund will only be approved once in a three-year period.
A DVD of the CCTV inspection must be dropped off at:
3990 - 18th Avenue
Prince George, BC V2N 4R8
If the CCTV inspection video does not meet City standards it will be returned without reimbursement.
Claims Against the City
The City is not presumed to be responsible for the consequences of a blocked sanitary sewer line simply because the blockage is on the City side. The City is governed by the British Columbia Local Government Act and is considered immune against certain nuisance actions caused by a breakdown or malfunction in the sewer system.
For more information:
The City will also not provide reimbursement if the City has not been notified of a blocked sanitary sewer at the time of an incident.
For more information and assistance, contact:
Ask a plumber or licensed technician these questions and document the answers:
- Was a snake, root cutter, or another method used to clear the blockage?
- If a root cutter was used, what size was it? Note: This is only a temporary solution
- How many times did the plumber work the line with the snake or root cutter? (It usually takes several passes to ensure complete removal a blockage)
- What was the total distance of root cut or snaked? (This will identify if the entire line was cleared)
- Where was the blockage located?
- Did the plumber suggest a CCTV inspection? (This is a costly expense but is recommended for recurring sanitary sewer backups or problems)
For more information:
Waste Discharge Permits
Wastewater discharges that do not meet the requirements outlined in the City of Prince George Sanitary Sewer Bylaw can have serious consequences on public health and safety, municipal infrastructure, the wastewater treatment processes and the environment.
Waste Discharge Permits are issued to industries, businesses, and institutions that discharge significant, non-domestic wastewater containing specified chemical contaminants into the sanitary sewer system.
Waste Discharge Permits issued by the City:
- Are site-specific regulatory authorisations granting permission to discharge waste to the sanitary sewer.
- Contain discharge requirements and best management practices designed to limit the impact of the discharge and the potential for illegal discharges.
- Specify requirements for wastewater treatment, effluent quality, monitoring and reporting.
- Are of specified duration.
- Are authorisations that may be amended, suspended or cancelled.
To discuss whether a business may require a Waste Discharge Permit, contact the City at:
For more information:
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The City's storm water drainage system collects run off water from rainstorms, snow melt, and residential and commercial water usage. The water travels through a network of pipes, culverts, and ditches, eventually making its way to a natural water course or retention pond.
Storm water management is essential to prevent:
- Sedimentation/degradation of water quality
- Negative impact on aquatic life
Urban development impacts peak flows by increasing impermeable surface areas; storm water from building roof drains and asphalt parking lots flow into catch basins. It then enters the storm sewer system or a recharge chamber.
Be mindful about water consumption. Washing vehicles and over-watering lawns, can strain the system.
STORM WATER SYSTEM
The City's storm water system includes:
- Over 800 culverts
- 5,528 catch basins
- 4,046 manholes
- 301 discharge points (outfalls, recharge tanks, discharge structures, etc.).
- 412 kilometres of below ground piping.
- 1,087 kilometres of open ditch or drainage channels.
- 24 storage basins (detention and retention ponds).
- 186 inlet structures.
- 6 storm lift stations.
Sediment and debris are removed, with regular maintenance, to prevent blockages and flooding.
REPORT A CATCH BASIN PROBLEM
Request a storm water connection be installed or moved.
Report a problem with drainage, flooding, or ponding issues online or by calling 311 or 250-561-7600 from outside city limits.
Preparing for the Spring Melt
Spring not only brings warmer temperatures, but also increases the threat of flooding. City utility crews travel throughout the city to monitor and report on problem drainage areas to catch issues before they get worse. Crews also track major ponding as they occur to prevent traffic problems and local flooding. These "ponding patrols" are on duty during peak melt season.
The City of Prince George encourages residents to bring to the City's attention large puddles or flooding concerns. To report a problem:
SPRING MELT TIPS
- Make sure no debris (like leaves), plastic, or paper covers catch basin grates.
- Clean gutters and downspouts.
- Ensure proper drainage and grading away from properties.
DO NOT use lawn sprinklers to melt snow. Offenders will be subject to a City fine.
- If possible, work with neighbours to divert water to the closest storm drains.
- Shovel or blow snow away from property foundations, but not onto the street. Snow and ice can block storm drains.
- Residents in low-lying areas should be aware of flooding risks to their properties and plan accordingly.
Flooding can happen for many reasons like surface water having no place to go due to frozen ground or storm system overloads due to large snow melts and rain.
Some ways to mitigate and prevent flooding include:
- Using sandbags, plastic sheeting, ditching, and clearing clogged drains and culverts.
- Purchasing sump pumps for homes that are at risk from basement flooding.
For more information:
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The City operates a 3.7-kilometre district energy system through the downtown area, distributing water heated at Lakeland Mills to provide space heating and domestic hot water in 11 buildings including City Hall, the Two Rivers Gallery, the Prince George Conference and Civic Centre, and the RCMP detachment on Victoria Street. Sawmill residue serves as fuel for the system and provides a renewable and carbon-neutral energy source.
The downtown renewable energy system has been operational since 2012 and is being expanded to include the new parkade beside City Hall as well as the new pool.
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Reports and Plans
Water Service Network Plan
Raw Water Sample Results
The City of Prince George's Utilities Division conducted a series of tests on raw samples taken from the City's six wells. The lab reports detailing results from all six locations are now available:
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