How our wastewater system works
Wastewater that we create in our homes, businesses and industries is collected in the municipal sewer system, which then delivers it to the larger regional system. Metro Vancouver operates a region-wide system of sewers and pump stations that carry wastewater to one of the five regional wastewater treatment plants. Treated wastewater is released into the Fraser River or the Salish Sea.
Treated wastewater is tested to check for substances that could affect human health and the environment, and to make sure treatment plants are working efficiently and meeting regulations. As part of the treatment process Metro Vancouver recovers resources from wastewater, including heat, electricity, reclaimed water and nutrients in the form of biosolids.
A separate system of stormwater sewers captures rain and melting snow and discharges it directly into the nearest body of water. In some areas of the region, stormwater is also collected in combined sewers, which carry both stormwater and wastewater from buildings. Combined sewers carry wastewater to treatment plants or to outfall pipes that flow into the nearest body of water.
The regional, municipal and household-owned wastewater system includes over 15,000 km of sewers and five wastewater treatment plants.