Who owns what? Responsibilities for underground water lines

Curb stop service valves and responsibility for underground water lines

Curb stop service valves (curb stops) are owned and operated by the City; however, any water lines which go from the curb stop to a home or building are the property owner’s responsibility. Property owners are responsible for any repairs and upkeep required to the service line on their side of the property line.

What are curb stop service valves?

Curb stop service valves control the water running to a home or building from the City’s water main. Curb stops are usually located outside in the front yard of a property (for example: on the front lawn, driveway, or private sidewalk) on the border of public and private property and are owned by the City.

Examples of service valves

Property owners are required to, and responsible for, maintaining access to curb stops on their property and to report any known issues with their properties curb stop directly to the City. Common issues may include:

  • Curb stop needs to be raised or lowered,
  • cap/top box is missing,
  • damaged valve,
  • leaking valve

If you are experiencing any of the above issues with your curb stop please contact Guelph Water Services for assistance at 519-837-5627 or waterservices@guelph.ca.

Curb stops and driveway pouring

If you are replacing or pouring a new driveway and your curb stop is located on your driveway, it is the property owners responsibility to maintain access to the curb stop before and after driveway replacement. Please ensure that you:

  • Call before you dig! It is important to locate all your utility lines first. Contact Ontario One Call at 1-800-400-2255 to schedule an inspection for us to locate the utility lines. Under Ontario regulations, it is the law. Please call before you dig to keep your property, family, and the community safe
  • The contractor is also required by law to obtain locates before the start of any work. Please remind your contractor of the presence of the valve in your driveway footprint to ensure that your contractor doesn’t pave over or damage the City’s service valve when they do the work.

Please note if service valves are paved over during driveway replacement the City may have to dig up a portion of your driveway at the homeowner’s expense to access and operate the valve if a private service leak is confirmed by Water Services or the owner requests that water be turned-off to their property. In such circumstances, the City will only patch the excavation area and not replace or match the entire driveway. Repairs to concrete, interlocking brick or other driveway surfaces will be at the sole expense and responsibility of the property owner.

Replacing service lines to your property

Property owners wishing to renew their water service lines are required and responsible to:

  1. Hire a qualified plumber with experience in service line replacements to do the work
  2. Contact the City’s Building Services to retain a plumbing permit for the works to be completed
  3. Contact Ontario One Call at 1-800-400-2255 to schedule an inspection for us to locate the utility lines.
  4. Contact the City’s Water Services two weeks before your plumber plans to do the work to schedule a water shutoff appointment. At this time, the City may want to review the condition of the service lines and ensure that the plumber is able to properly connect to the City’s service valves.
  5. Ensure that your contractor doesn’t pave over or damage the City’s curb stop when they do the work.

Please note that based on the condition of the City’s curb stop and lateral (sewer pipe) at the time of the water turnoff appointment, the City may choose to replace this infrastructure if it is not in good condition. In that case, the service line replacement would be at the cost of the City.

In accordance with bylaw (1991)-13791, any person who requests a service line larger than that what exists to his or her premises may be supplied with a larger service line, subject to payment of the cost thereof, and provided that such larger service will not adversely affect the water supply and distribution system. Service sizing upgrades shall include upgrade of both the City service lateral and private property water service to ensure sufficient hydraulic capacity to the property.

Please note: customer support calls received after hours for City service line renewals will be subject to applicable rates and fees in accordance with the Council approved Water and Wastewater Fees and Charges Bylaw (2019).

Service valves in your home: main shut-off valve

Internal master shut-off valves are located in homes where the water line enters your residence. These customer owned valves are required by the Ontario Building Code and allow you to shut water off in your home for a variety of reasons, including emergencies or when repairing leaks, taps or toilets.

The internal main shut-off valve is typically located either close to the water tank (usually in the basement) or below the water meter on the water pipe that enters your house.

Water meter valve labelled

It is the property owners responsibility to control and maintain their master shut-off valve per the City’s Water and Wastewater Customer Accounts Bylaw and Property Standards Bylaw.

To have the valve repaired by a certified plumber, the water will need to be shut off by the City at the curb stop. To request this please contact the City’s Water Services at:

For more information

Water Services
519-837-5627
waterservices@guelph.ca