Stormwater Services

Halifax Water is responsible for maintaining the stormwater system within the stormwater boundary

Stormwater is the water from rain, melted snow and ice, that runs off roofs, parking lots, driveways, and other hard surfaces. Halifax Water provides stormwater services to thousands of customers throughout Halifax Regional Municipality.

For some, this means ditches and culverts. For others, it means storm drains in the street (catchbasins) and underground pipes.

All of this stormwater infrastructure is maintained by Halifax Water to help prevent flooding and property damage.

How does Halifax Water manage stormwater?

Is my property within the Halifax Water Stormwater Boundary?

Halifax Water is responsible for providing and maintaining stormwater services within the Halifax Water Stormwater Boundary.

In 2006, the Province of Nova Scotia transferred ownership and maintenance responsibilities of streets within the Urban Service Boundary to HRM. HRM Council directed HRM staff to find a way to properly fund stormwater service to be able to maintain and upgrade the stormwater system properly.

In 2007, Halifax Water assumed responsibility for wastewater and stormwater service delivery within the Urban Service Boundary. The Halifax Water Stormwater Boundary covers the same area as the Urban Service Boundary.

You can view the Stormwater Boundary map in a new browser window.

What is the stormwater system that Halifax Water owns and maintains?

Halifax Water’s stormwater system includes:

Types of Stormwater Infrastructure

This is infrastructure located on public property or within Halifax Water or Halifax Regional Municipality easements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Stormwater can be hard to wrap your head around. Learn more here:

Questions about Stormwater Services

In 2006, the Province of Nova Scotia transferred ownership and maintenance responsibilities of streets within the Urban Service Boundary to HRM. HRM Council directed HRM staff to find a way to properly fund stormwater service to be able to maintain and upgrade the stormwater system properly.

In 2007, Halifax Water assumed responsibility for wastewater and stormwater service delivery within the Urban Service Boundary. The Halifax Water stormwater boundary covers the same area as the Urban Service Boundary.

Halifax Water was a water utility from 1945 until 2007 when HRM transferred wastewater and stormwater responsibilities to Halifax Water.

This change meant Halifax Water became a One Water utility offering three core services: water service, wastewater service, and stormwater service. Some customers receive all three services; some receive two, and some only one service.

While water service and wastewater service are often linked (customers receiving water service from Halifax Water are often also wastewater customers), stormwater services have nothing to do with whether or not a property receives water and/or wastewater services from Halifax Water.

Halifax Water provides stormwater service to all properties within the stormwater boundary that contribute stormwater to the Halifax Water stormwater system or have a driveway culvert that Halifax Water is responsible for maintaining or replacing.

Find out more about Halifax Water stormwater charges further down this page, or by clicking here.

As simple as they may seem, roadside ditches are a vital part of the stormwater system in HRM. Halifax Water owns and maintains over 600 KM of ditches in our service area.

Ditches are used to direct stormwater toward a nearby body of water, like a stream, a river, a lake, or the ocean.

If the ditch near your property becomes blocked and water can't go where it needs to, give us a call, and we'll send someone out to take a look and then, if needed, schedule a crew to repair it.

Repairing or maintaining a ditch generally involves an excavator, a dump truck or two, and a crew. Once everything is on-site, the crew gets to work fixing the ditch. This cost is covered as part of your stormwater service.

To see example images of how some properties receive stormwater service, click here or scroll down to the "Understanding Stormwater Flow from your Property" section of this page.

Halifax Water owns and maintains about 16,000 driveway culverts in HRM.

Ditches and driveway culverts go hand-in-hand. Water flowing through the ditch needs to go by your driveway to get to its destination, usually a nearby body of water, like a stream, a river, a lake, or the ocean. Rather than letting the water fill the ditch and wash over your driveway, which can lead to washouts (erosion), a driveway culvert is installed to let stormwater pass underneath your driveway.

Halifax Water comes in when/if your driveway culvert needs to be repaired or replaced. If the culvert is no longer letting stormwater through, or if the driveway culvert is collapsing, give us a call, and we'll send someone out to take a look and, if needed, schedule a crew to repair or replace it.

Repairing or maintaining a culvert generally involves an excavator, a dump truck or two, and a crew. Once everything is on-site, the crew gets to work fixing the culvert. This cost is covered as part of your stormwater service.

To see example images of how some properties receive stormwater service, click here or scroll down to the "Understanding Stormwater Flow from your Property" section of this page.

On most HRM streets with curbs or sidewalks, stormwater is collected with storm drains (catchbasins) in the street. These are like a big version of the drain in your shower or sink. Water flows to low points in the street and drains into the catchbasin. From there, it flows through underground pipes to its destination.

It's up to Halifax Water to make sure these catchbasins are working, and with nearly 25,000 catchbasins throughout our service area, it's a full-time job. If a catchbasin is damaged, give us a call, and we'll send a crew out to fix or replace it.

There is something of a shared responsibility between HRM and Halifax Water when it comes to clogged catchbasins:

  • If a catchbasin is blocked by leaves, snow, or other debris on the street, HRM is responsible for clearing off the catchbasin. This is part of their street cleaning and snow clearing work.
  • If the catchbasin is clogged inside with anything at all, then Halifax Water staff are responsible for clearing out the blockage. Just give us a call, and we’ll send a crew out as soon as we can.
  • During severe weather events, like hurricanes and snowstorms, Halifax Water staff work with HRM to prevent localized flooding by clearing leaves or snow off of catchbasins.

To see example images of how some properties receive stormwater service, click here or scroll down to the "Understanding Stormwater Flow from your Property" section of this page.

Yes, we will. That's part of what the stormwater rates pay for. When a property is developed, if a driveway culvert is needed, it is the responsibility of the developer/builder to install a driveway culvert to access the property. Once the developer has installed the driveway culvert and it's been approved by a Halifax Water inspector, future repairs and replacements are our responsibility.

If your culvert is collapsing or no longer letting stormwater through, give us a call, and we'll send someone out to take a look and, if needed, schedule a crew to repair or replace it.

Driveway culverts can be made out of many materials and can look different from property to property. When a property is developed, it is the responsibility of the developer/builder to install a driveway culvert to the building code in place at that time. Depending on when the property was developed and what materials the developer used, your driveway culvert may be different from others on your street.

Whatever your driveway culvert looks like, if you're a Halifax Water stormwater customer, you're covered if it needs to be repaired or replaced. Just give us a call, and we'll take a look.

Service is delivered to ensure systems are operating in all areas. For areas not on the piped system, there is a significant cost because Halifax Water does ditch cleaning and culvert replacements.

Halifax Water spends millions of dollars every year operating and maintaining the stormwater system and investments in the system.

In 2021/22, Halifax Water has a capital budget of $12.8 million dollars for stormwater service.

The Halifax Regional Municipality is responsible for travel surfaces on roadways, roadway shoulders, and curb and gutters, including snow removal from ditches and damages incurred during snow removal. If a property owner has damage to their headwall or culvert incurred during snow-clearing activities, this is a municipal responsibility. Also, although Halifax Water is responsible for catchbasins, the municipality is responsible for clearing snow, ice and debris from the surface of catchbasins, as part of their street snow clearing responsibilities.

Questions about Stormwater Charges & Rates

Yes. Many cities use impervious area as the basis for stormwater charges. Halifax Water is leading the industry in standards with respect to methods to provide precision in terms of measurement of impervious areas for billing purposes.

The Site-Related Flow (SRF) charge is a Halifax Water charge. It is based on the amount of impervious/hard surfaces (i.e.: roofs, asphalt, concrete, and packed gravel) on private property. Those surfaces don’t absorb stormwater. Instead, it flows into Halifax Water's stormwater system. The SRF charge is a tiered system, the more hard surface a property has, the higher the tier and cost.

The HRM Right of Way (ROW) charge is a Halifax Regional Municipality charge for the management of stormwater that comes from the public street right of way into Halifax Water's stormwater system. Essentially, HRM is a customer with a large impervious area (streets/roads). Halifax Council made a decision to collect this charge through Halifax Water's billing. All customers that are billed stormwater service pay for the ROW charge. Effective July 1, 2018, the ROW charge is $40 per year.

Learn more about stormwater rates & charges here.

This was one of the options considered by Regional Council. Initially, it was preferred to have this charge collected by Halifax Water. In 2016, the municipality collected the HRM Right-of-Way charge directly through the property tax bill. Collecting the charge on the property tax bill created difficulty for some types of properties such as condos, land leased communities, and water lots. As a result, for 2017 and subsequent years, Regional Council has opted to have Halifax Water collect the charge on our stormwater bills.

Halifax Water engineering staff use topographic maps and satellite imagery to create watershed boundaries and maps showing the location of Halifax Water-owned stormwater infrastructure to determine which properties within the stormwater boundary receive stormwater service from Halifax Water. We are continuing to update and improve our data.

Mid-year physical state changes would be assessed by staff based on information provided by the customer, with site visits as required.

Understanding Stormwater Flow from your Property

Halifax Water stormwater infrastructure may be directly adjacent to your property, or it may be some distance away, in which case stormwater may have to flow overland, along roadways, or through watercourses (lakes, rivers, etc.) before reaching the Halifax Water stormwater system. Most of the properties within the boundary receive one or more of the following services from Halifax Water:

  • Stormwater from the property enters any part of Halifax Water's stormwater system
  • The property is accessed directly by a driveway that crosses over a Halifax Water culvert

Stormwater Billing Exemptions

Halifax Water has “exempted” any properties that do not contribute stormwater into the public system and do not have a driveway culvert. For example, a property the drains down-hill into a lake that does not drain into Halifax Water-owned infrastructure and does not have a driveway culvert.

Stormwater Billing Appeals

You can appeal your Halifax Water stormwater bill if you feel you do not receive stormwater service from Halifax Water, or that you have otherwise been improperly billed.

The “appeal” process is provided for in Section 7 of the Halifax Water Regulations. The language used in the Regulations is “Notice of Objection”.

You must file a Notice of Objection with Halifax Water outlining why you believe no stormwater is discharged from your property into the Halifax Water stormwater system. You can follow the same procedure as the Formal Complaints procedure.

What if I Don't Like the Answer I Received from Halifax Water?

If you wish to appeal Halifax Water’s written reply to your Notice of Objection , a complaint may be made to the Dispute Resolution Officer (DRO).

The Dispute Resolution Officer is an independent officer (not an employee of Halifax Water or the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board) who manages regulation based on customer issues.