/Septic reinspection program results in remedial action public awareness

Septic reinspection program results in remedial action public awareness

By Sue Tiffin 

1,264 septic systems inspected in Algonquin Highlands this year between
June and September through the township’s septic re-inspection program,
31 per cent of systems had visible code contraventions and were issued
remedial actions.
Sysiuk and Paisley McDowell from WSP Canada Inc. presented a summary of
the 2019 septic re-inspection program results to Algonquin Highlands
council on Dec. 12 at a regular council meeting.
396 septic systems which required a remedial action letter being issued
had challenges that include solids occupying or exceeding 33 per cent
of the tank volume; trees, bushes, roots or other dense vegetation
needing to be removed from the bed area; cracked, broken or missing tank
lids; no haulage agreement for Class 5 systems (holding tanks); a metal
septic tank or holding tank; or outhouses and composting toilets that
weren’t vermin proof. In some cases, properties could have received a
remedial action letter for more than one cause.  
in the inspection program, which looks at onsite sewage systems for
compliance with Section 8.9 of the Ontario Building Code and provides
education to system owners in an attempt to “protect lake water,
drinking water resources, public health and the environment,” was 97.9
per cent in 2019, according to the presentation by Sysiuk and McDowell.  
their report, WSP Canada Inc. said 66 per cent of systems inspected in
2019, or 840 systems, were in the Class 4 category, those being septic
tank and leaching bed systems. Seventeen per cent, or 219 systems, were
Class 1, which includes outhouses and composting toilets. Nine per cent,
or 109 systems, were categorized as Class 2, being greywater, and eight
per cent, or 96 systems, were Class 5 systems, or holding tanks. No
Class 3 systems – cesspools – were inspected. In 2019, 57 per cent of
systems were 30 or fewer years old, and two per cent were more than 50
years old. 
WSP Canada Inc. representatives said the program is offering public
education, including on proper septic maintenance, minimum leaching or
filter beds separation distances for drinking water and surface water
quality. Seventy-nine surface water samples were collected in 2019, with
three samples exceeding the Provincial Water Quality Objective.
stewards of lake health, what do we do with this?” asked Mayor Carol
Moffatt. “Is it your estimation that the program itself and replacement
systems will remediate these kinds of numbers or is there other things
that we should be looking at?”
feel that public education is a strong way to go with that,” replied
McDowell. “It’s home owners’ awareness of not just septic maintenance
but, what soaps do you use. Phosphorous comes from a lot of different
sources. There’s not a lot of agriculture in this area which is why it’s
a good area to do this sort of phosphorous assessment, because septic
is one of the, as we estimate, the main contributors.”
clarified that at this point the team is still connecting data
regarding phosphorous and algal bloom risk in the area.  
results speak to the reason why you do it,” said Moffatt. “It’s good
information. The health of the lakes as we’ve said, our entire lifestyle
and economy all relies on lake health so it’s good stuff.”
2020, the inspection zone will include areas surrounding Big Hawk and
Little Hawk Lake, Raven Lake and Oxtongue Lake. WSP plans to issue
letters in spring 2020 which include program information as well as a
request for property owners to contact WSP to book an inspection date. 
to Sysiuk and McDowell’s presentation, “properties that have metal
tanks will be given an opportunity to apply for a permit to replace
their tank, and attain exemption from the inspection program.” 
program continues in 2021, and will include inspections of areas that
include Kawagama Lake, Livingstone Lake, Fletcher Lake and Crown Lake. 

More information about the septic re-inspection program is available at https://www.