The City of Prince George's Utilities Division is responsible for providing the residents of Prince George with clean drinking water, sanitary sewer treatment, and storm water management.
Staff and crews help to supply our city with ample water resources while maintaining adequate firefighting water flows and pressures, sustaining sufficient sanitary sewer lift station capacities, sewage treatment, and storm water management during high run-off periods.
The utilities staff strive to provide quality water and treated wastewater by operating and maintaining our water, sanitary, and storm underground infrastructure; Wastewater Treatment Centre and lagoons; water pumping and storage facilities; storm water inlets and outlets; and the
District Energy Heating System which provides heat to a dozen downtown municipal and provincial buildings.
The City supplies, pumps, treats, stores, and distributes an average 189 million litres of water daily, to City residents. The water infrastructure has over 550,000 metres of distribution pipes, 10 pump stations, 15 reservoirs, and six wells.
Water Use Restrictions
To conserve water, The City of Prince George implemented the
City of Prince George Water Regulations and Rates Bylaw No. 7479, 2003. The bylaw is in effect 365 days a year.
Hours of Water Use Restrictions
Sprinkling is permitted for even house numbers on even numbered days and odd house numbers on odd numbered days within the prescribed hours of the day.
Note: Water use restrictions are in effect 365 days a year. The fine for sprinkling violators is $50.00.
No sprinkling: 8:00am to 5:00pm
This includes properties abutting: Cinch Loop, Hartman Road, Cantle Drive, Corral Road, and Western Road, and the frontage road north of Highway 16 West, from the 8100 block of Highway 16 West to the City's western boundary.
All other areas of the city: No sprinkling: 12:00pm to 5:00pm
Benefits of rain barrels:
- Rainwater is free.
- Rainwater is better for lawns and gardens as it is not treated with chlorine.
- Using rainwater reduces demand on storm water systems
- Stored rainwater is warmer and will not shock plants or lawns
- Pumping is not required so there are no electricity costs
- Setup is easy and little maintenance is required
Rain barrels can be purchased at many garden supply centres and through
Water Use Restriction Exemption
Residents who feel they have a special circumstance with regard to water use can apply online for an exemption to the Water Use Restrictions or call: 250-561-7550.
Apply now for a Water Use Restriction Exemption
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.
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 our 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 Center 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 our 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. Our 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).
Learn more about the City of Prince George water system
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.
Download the Annual Backflow Prevention Assembly Test Report [PDF]
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:
- Plowing, shovel and store snow to insulate utilities on a property
- Keep all rooms heated to 5°c 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
Water Service Network Plan
Water conservation is critical in achieving sustainable water usage for the City of Prince George. Average water consumption demands can double during the summer months, as over one-third of this amount is due to lawn sprinkling. This puts an added strain on infrastructure and increases operational costs.
The benefits of water conservation are both economic and environmental, and include:
- alleviating water supply constraints;
- deferring infrastructure replacement costs;
- reducing operational costs;
- minimizing the environmental impact of extracting and releasing treated water; and,
- protecting groundwater source for future generations.
Council approved the City of Prince George Water Conservation Plan 2016 with the stated goal of reducing water demand by 20 per cent over a period of 10 years.
The Plan identified five (5) Water Conservation Strategies to meet this objective:
- Sprinkling Restrictions
- Water Metering
- Water Loss Management Program
- Leak Detection and Repair Program
- Educational and Outreach Programs
Learn more in the City of Prince George Water Conservation Plan 2016 [PDF]
Water Conservation Tips
Ever wonder where all the water goes in a typical home? Most of it flows down the toilet or absorbs into your lawn. Surprisingly, very little of it is used for actual drinking. Follow the “Three Water-wise Rs”:
- Turn off the tap while brushing teeth, washing hands, washing dishes or shaving.
- Run dishwashers and washing machines with full loads.
- When washing dishes by hand, use a sink half full of rinse water rather than letting the water run.
- Keep a jug of drinking water in the fridge to keep it cool, instead of running the tap.
- Use a lid when boiling water on the stove to prevent water loss through evaporation.
- Water houseplants and gardens with cooled cooking water or vegetable and fruit rinse water.
- Limit showers to five (5) minutes.
- Fix leaks as soon as they're found. Leaky taps and toilets cost money!
Reduce water use in the bathroom by:
- Installing faucet aerators
- Replacing old showerheads with low-flow models. This can save 10L of water per minute.
- Replacing old toilets with a low-flow 6L flush model to reduce overall water consumption by 20 per cent.
Outdoor water usage can waste a lot of water. Here are some tips for efficient lawn watering:
- Lawns require about 2.5 cm of water per week. This takes about a half hour of sprinkling, twice a week, on your designated sprinkling day.
- Establishing a new lawn requires three weeks of sprinkling, and it is important to ensure top soil is put under your sod to retain water.
- Remember that less watering promotes deeper, healthier lawn roots.
- Minimize water evaporation, mould, and fungus by watering in the mornings or evenings. Evaporation is greatest between 10am and 5pm, and can result in 50% of water not even reaching your lawn.
- Avoid watering on windy days.
- Aerate lawns to allow air, water, and fertilizer to reach the roots.
- Make sure automatic irrigation systems are set within the permitted times. Turn the timer off when it rains and reset it afterwards.
- Remember lawns stay moist when it is cut 5 to 7.5 cm in length. Tall grass shades and cools the soil, grows at a slower rate, and requires less mowing.
- Make sure that paved areas and sidewalks are not watered.
Other Tips to Conserve Water Outdoors
- Use a spring-loaded nozzle when washing vehicles.
- Use a broom instead of a hose to clean driveways and sidewalks.
- Put a layer of mulch around the base of trees and shrubs to retain moisture and reduce weed growth.
- Plant draft-resistant trees and plants.
- Purchase a Rain Barrel from
REAPS to water your plants.
Volunteer Residential Watering Meter Program
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.
Residents in the City of Prince George currently use more water than both the provincial and the national average, making water conservation essential. Water meters allow residents to accurately track their water use, and to conserve water. In addition, water conservers are rewarded financially for using less water.
All questions with respect to the Volunteer Residential Water Meter program may be directed to:
Development Services (2nd Floor City Hall)
1100 Patricia Boulevard
Prince George, BC V2L 3V9
Learn more in the Volunteer Residential Water Metering FAQs [PDF]
Sign Up for a Volunteer 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% over a 3 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.
Sanitary Sewer Information
Residents are advised that many waste materials can:
- be hazardous;
- be harmful to the environment;
- damage the treatment plant;
- complicate the treatment process; and
- pose a health threat to maintenance and repair crews.
If a matter or liquid can reasonably be thrown into the garbage, please do not flush it down the toilet or wash it down the drain.
sanitary dos and don'ts
Help the City keep the sanitary sewer treatment process running correctly:
- 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 3% 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.
The sanitary cleanout is the exterior access point of the service connection to a structure. It is accessed for the removal of obstructions or for inspection with a camera.
Property owners are responsible for maintaining the cleanout, and ensuring easy access for City staff, plumbers, or licensed technicians.
Do not bury or pave over the cleanout. Any damage incurred 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, please contact the City immediately. Any damage to the cleanout from negligence will be repaired by City staff at the cost of the property owner.
All 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. If a cleanout is not level with the driveway, contact the City. The City provides staff to raise and lower utilities, like water stand pipes and sewer cleanouts. This service is provided by request, and is completed in a timely manner.
Sanitary Sewer Blockages
Blockages in sanitary sewer mains can cause sewage to backup into a residence. They can be caused by vegetation roots growing into the line and/or by the improper disposal of items such as grease, wipes, diapers, washing machine lint, and other items flushed down the toilet. In the event of a sanitary blockage, call the City of Prince George immediately at: 250-561-7600 (24 hours a day/365 days a year).
Learn what to do in the event of a suspected blockage [PDF]
The City will help identify whether the blockage is in the City's sanitary sewer main or service line, or is in a building sewer:
- If the blockage is in the City's sanitary sewer main, the City will clear it.
- If the blockage is not in the City's sanitary sewer main, the property owner is responsible for clearing any blockages within the sanitary service connection or the building sewer. In this situation, contact a plumber or licensed technician.
If residents have homeowner's or other property insurance, notify the insurance agent to see if the claim is covered.
Document the actions taken (calls, contacts, costs) and take photos of the damage.
If additional assistance is needed, call the City at 250-561-7600.
Learn how to start a claim
Note: The City will not provide reimbursement if the City has not been notified of the blocked sewer at the time of the incident.
The City is not presumed to be responsible for the consequences of a blocked sanitary sewer line simply because the blockage is on City side. The City is protected by the Local Government Act.
Failure to act in a timely manner may increase damage to property and to neighbouring properties.
View the Sanitary Sewer Backup Procedure Fact Sheet [PDF]
repair and reimbursements
The City will be responsible for any defects identified within the service connection. Any repairs required on the building's sewer side are the responsibility of the property owner.
View the Division of Responsibilities [PDF]
Reimbursement will be provided up to a maximum of $185.00 for CCTV work, $30.00 for a service locate, and $20.00 dollars for a DVD (plus tax), if the defect is within the service connection. If there are issues or problems on both sides, a partial reimbursement may be possible. This refund shall only be approved once in a three-year period.
A DVD of the CCTV inspection must be dropped off at Public Works office located at 3990-18th Avenue, and will become the property of the City. If the CCTV inspection video does not meet City standards it will be returned without reimbursement.
Provincial Regulations: Local Government Act
The City is NOT presumed to be responsible for the consequences of a blocked sanitary line just because the blockage is on City side. The City is regulated by the British Columbia Local Government Act.
"Immunity against certain nuisance actions."
No. 744 A municipality, council, regional district, board or improvement district, or a greater board, is not liable in any action based on nuisance if the damages arise, directly or indirectly, out of the breakdown or malfunction of:
- a sewer system;
- a water or drainage facility or system, and/or;
- a dike or a road.
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 sewer backups or problems)
Industrial Commercial and Institutional Sanitary Maintenance Procedure the
Sanitary Sewer Backup Fact Sheet or the
Sanitary Sewer Backup Procedure for more information.
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
- 5300 catch basins
- 3800 manholes
- 300 outfall structures
- 36 km of below ground piping
- 110 km of open ditch or drainage channels
- Several detention ponds
Sediment and debris are removed, with regular maintenance, to prevent blockages and flooding.
Learn more about the Urban Storm Water Guidelines [PDF]
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: 250-561-7600.
Learn how to report problems
Storm Sewer System Bylaw
Download the City of Prince George Storm Sewer Bylaw No. 2656, 1974 [PDF]
Flooding and Erosion
Flooding can occur during a rainstorm if the system is unable to handle the rate of water flow, or if catch basins are blocked. Flooding can cause erosion as the excess storm water makes its own path. To avoid flooding, catch basins and storm inlets and outlets, must be kept free of debris.