Water & Sewer

Unflushables Damage Hamilton's Harbour


You can help keep Hamilton Harbour clean by only flushing the 3Ps (pee, poo and toilet paper). To support a clean and beautiful Hamilton Harbour, the City of Hamilton developed the Hamilton Clean Harbour Program. This program consists of a series of infrastructure projects that aim to clean up the harbour, improve water quality, restore natural habitat, create more recreational opportunities, enhance business opportunities and contribute to better public health.

Hamilton is old... and so are some of the pipes
Like many older North American municipalities, Hamilton’s first sewer pipes were built to transport both sanitary waste and stormwater in a single pipe. These are called combined sewers. Most of the time combined sewer contents (rain, melted snow and sewage) make their way to the wastewater treatment plant for full treatment. However, during periods of heavy rainfall, the amount of stormwater that enters the combined sewer can exceed treatment plant capacity and some of the combined stormwater and sewage must be diverted untreated, directly into waterways like Hamilton Harbour in order to prevent flooded basements, neighbourhoods and damage to the wastewater system.


Tossing unflushables into the waste bin is more environmentally friendly than flushing them. By properly disposing these items into the garbage, you are helping keep the unflushables out of the harbour and out of the environment.

To reduce overflows into the environment, the City built 9 large tanks that hold excess untreated water until capacity at the treatment plant becomes available. While the tanks have resulted in a significant reduction in stormwater and untreated wastewater bypassing the plant and making it to the harbour, extreme rainfall can still cause the tanks to overflow, causing flushed debris to make it to shorelines around Hamilton Harbour.

Unflushables Can Turn Into Harbour 'Floatables'

Illustration Tampon ApplicatorPoor Flushing Decisions + Combined Sewers + Intense Rain = Harbour Pollution
Unflushable items like tampon applicators travel to Hamilton Harbour, becoming 'floatable' nuisances. This debris can ruin the natural beauty of the harbour, harm habitats and ecosystems and cause unwanted buildup of shoreline pollution.

How You Can Help
When you think about flushing an unflushable item, remember that even though you can't see it after it's flushed, it's not gone. It could reappear where it's not wanted - in our beautiful Hamilton Harbour and the city's natural environment.