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Norton Engineering Inc.

We love sewers.

Hot off the press: Norton's 45-minute presentation to EGBC
"Developing an Efficient and Cost Effective I/I Program", Norton & ICLR for SCC

Barbara A. Robinson, M.A.Sc., P.Eng., a professional engineer specializing in all aspects of sewer systems, established Norton Engineering Inc. in 2015.  Norton conceived of and brought to fruition the first two national sewer documents in Canada, “Reducing the Risk of I/I in New Construction” (2019) and “Developing an Efficient and Cost-Effective I/I Program” (2021), by Standards Council of Canada. Norton also works with the National Research Council on sewer standards issues (particularly as related to the building codes).


Norton has produced dozens of guidelines, papers, presentations, etc. on all aspects of the design, construction, inspection, testing an acceptance of sewer systems. Barbara has become fluent with building codes in Canada as they relate to sewers and is constantly advocating for improvements to reduce I/I risk. Barbara chaired the national CSA committee that developed “CSA Z800-18: Basement Flood Protection and Risk Reduction Guideline” (June 2018). Barbara is solicited to author, contribute to, or review most national I/I and urban flood protection documents.


Barbara has worked as a paid infrastructure columnist for CBC Radio since 2016, speaking on the morning shows on a wide range of infrastructure and engineering issues. She also frequently provides background for, or appears in, other print, radio and TV media speaking to infrastructure issues. She speaks to service groups constantly, enthusiastically educating the public about sewers.

New sewers in Ontario are leaking unacceptably (2015)

In 2015, Norton initiated a project to address the issue of I/I in new subdivisions. We started by collecting flow monitoring data from new subdivisions across Ontario, to see if my experience locally in Woolwich (see WEAO, 2007) was perhaps happening elsewhere. Results were alarming. See results at left, of 35 subdivisions reporting from across Ontario, different municipalities, consultants and contractors. Ninety-eight (98%) of them were leaking unacceptably.


This work engendered a new term, coined by Norton: "leak acceptable". 


We aren't doing the inspections and testing specified in our standards (2018)

From about 2016, Norton started to collect data on the inspection and testing practices we are using. Shockingly, we are not performing the mandatary tests that are required in OPSS, OPSD and MOE.


On the private side, under the jurisdiction of the building codes, the required tests are not clearly spelled out, so are not being performed. The pipe being installed on the private side is the same as on the public side, and must confirm to CAN/CSA 182.1 or 182.2.


There are a hundred reasons why public side sewers are leaking. 

Public side sewers are being constructed by the developer on behalf of the municipality. This introduces many conflicts of interest that can result in poorer quality sewers. Norton has developed dozens of best practices to reduce risk of I/I on the public side, a menu of items that municipalities can choose from. I/I reduction is not a one size fits all proposition.

Engineers working in I/I need to drive the conversation
to update the building codes.



On the private side, under the jurisdiction of the building codes, the required tests are not clearly spelled out, so are not being performed. The pipe being installed on the private side is the same as on the public side, and must confirm to CAN/CSA 182.1 or 182.2.


Building officials typically have no training in sewer design and I/I issues - public sector engineers must start addressing limitations in the Plumbing/Building Codes that are increasing risk of I/I.


The name "Norton" is synonymous with sewer workers. Listen to our theme song from "The Honeymooners".