Good Agricultural Practices

Drainage and Sewage Systems

If inadequate drainage or liquid waste disposal systems are not in place, food, food contact surfaces, inputs, housing areas and the water supply can be contaminated.

This Good Agricultural Practice applies to:

All farms.

What needs to be done

Make sure facilities and yards have drainage and liquid waste disposal systems designed and maintained to prevent any risk of contamination.

How to do it

Use safeguards (e.g. dikes, drains and ditches) to protect outdoor facilities and yards from flooding.

Design facilities to promote drainage (e.g. floor surfaces sloped to drains).

Take the following into account when designing and constructing septic, liquid waste disposal, and drainage systems:

  • Site of drainage system (e.g. distance from water supplies)
  • Protection of pipes from freezing temperatures in winter
  • Volume/capacity of waste liquid generated from production systems

Consider installing anti-backflow devices to prevent drainage backups.

Maintain liquid waste disposal and drainage systems (e.g. empty septic tanks when they are filled to capacity).

In general

Consider what to do in the event of unexpected circumstances, such as flooding or extensive freezing, that create a food safety hazard.

Useful references from OMAFRA

Did you know?

In the event of a spill, immediately contact the Spills Action Centre (SAC) at 1-800-268-6060 and your local municipality.

Laws and regulations that apply

There are few laws that directly impact on food safety directly regulating internal drainage and sewage systems in agricultural production. Generally, these requirements are laid out in laws regarding the processing of meat, fish and other food products, which are outside the scope of this document.

Septic systems are subject to the Building Code, O. Reg. 403/97.

Note that laws specify that contaminants may not enter water, such as through a drain or due to a spill. The Environmental Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. E. 19, s. 6 (1) prohibits the discharge of any contaminants into the natural environment in excess of levels allowed in the Regulations. There is a duty to notify the Minister forthwith in the event of such a discharge, or a discharge likely to cause adverse effects, or a spill of pollutants (s. 13, s. 15, s. 92 (1)).

The Milk Act, R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 761, s. 9 provides that floor and animal platforms be adequately sloped to trapped covered floor drains that are capable of draining any liquids from the parlour to a location outside the parlour. Milkhouses (s. 12) must have one or more drains that can be maintained in a sanitary condition, are in an open position, are located in the floor of the milkhouse at least 60 centimetres from the outlet of each farm bulk tank, have a diameter of at least 10 centimetres, and can drain tany liquids from the floor in a manner approved by the Director.

Did you know?

In May 2001, a food-borne disease outbreak in British Columbia was traced back to a farm well water source that was contaminated by an on-farm sewage system and used for irrigating and washing spinach.

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For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 27 May 2009
Last Reviewed: 21 September 2015