What You Should Know About Your Septic System by Shirley Dolan

Published March 1, 2017
Shirley Dolan

Shirley Dolan

The Ontario Building Code, when combined with the Building Code Act and the Ontario Regulation 332/12, is over 750 pages. I image few people have read it in its entirety except our OLA Director of Research, Elizabeth Marshall. Fewer still, I imagine, have waded through the proposed changes to the Code (there are 700 of them). Unfortunately, buried deep in the bowels (pun intended) of the proposed changes is a mandatory requirement to have septic systems on private property cleaned out every five years. Yet, the public has not been invited to comment on the proposed changes.

You can read the proposed changes here http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=15603.

Essentially, the change will require property owners with septic systems to have their septic tanks pumped every five years whether needed or not. In addition, the homeowner will be required to maintain records of all cleaning of their systems for submission to the chief building official upon request.

These requirements should raise several concerns with homeowners. First and foremost, they infringe on property rights for no good reason. Rural homeowners understand the need for regular maintenance of their septic systems and are in the best position to judge when this might be necessary. When a system needs to be maintained is dependent on the capacity of the tank and the number of people using the system. The need to clean it out might be three years, five years, or even ten or fifteen. Technology in septic systems is advancing. Newer systems are designed to be as efficient and effective as possible and will only improve in future. Putting a five-year limit on septic system maintenance does not consider such advancements and unfairly targets those who invest in new systems.

The requirement to produce documentation on your septic system maintenance to the chief building official is curious and leads to many questions. Your septic system is approved when it is installed, but we know of no authority which would support the notion that a maintenance record should be produced or even maintained for anything other than the homeowner’s purposes. Is this intended to give the perception that a municipality or conservation authority has yet another supposed avenue to enter onto your property?

Phase One of the consultation on the potential changes to Ontario’s Building Code ended on December 20, 2016. http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page14996.aspx Those comments are now being reviewed by a committee. The person that I spoke to at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Building and Development Branch indicated that the code is meant for industry and that only industry was invited to comment. Hey, what about the people that are most affected – the homeowner?

If you are concerned about these new requirements, you may want to voice those concerns to the Minister responsible for the Building Code:

Hon. Bill Mauro
Ministry of Municipal Affairs
17th Floor – 777 Bay Street
Toronto, ON M5G 2E5

If you are emailing your comments, you may also want to copy the Building and Development Branch at the Ministry at codeinfo@ontario.ca. This Branch is responsible for development of the code.

9 Responses to “What You Should Know About Your Septic System by Shirley Dolan”

  1. D van Dijk April 11, 2017

    I thought we won the war 1

  2. Irma DeVries April 3, 2017

    Please confirm the $10,000 day fine. I see in the CA act that the fines are $1000 a day up to a maximum of $10,000. I know we’ve been lied to by CA agents claiming $10,000 day fines but reading the CA act shows me different. If someone adamantly tells you ten thousand a day, we need to charge them with fraud and intimidation.

  3. Leeson Laing March 27, 2017

    Of all the comments I’ve read about this issue I think Steve Lindsay’s response says it best. Other than providing a bonanza for companies that pump septic tanks, and added staff at the municipal offices, I can’t see why any level of Government would bother with this issue unless the “tank” and or the “bed” are visibly leaching into a sensitive water shed…period. Over the years, I have seen one thing after another being deemed by Municipal and Provincial levels of Government ruled illegal or subject to some ridiculous fine ($10,000.00 a day in this case) and as far as I know this is currently enforce in Tiny Township which is just north of Barrie. When and what is next. I think a lot of Municipal Governments have become bloated with additional staff and a preponderance to pass Draconian like legislation

    Best Regards
    Leeson Laing

  4. Steve Lindsay March 24, 2017

    More constraints around the Rural Homeowners, like a rope around our collective necks choking the life out of us. This is Agenda 21 Agenda 20/30, they are infringing on our rights as tax paying citizens and home owners more and more, and trying to deter people from living or buying and building homes in Rural Ontario. Its absolutely none of their business when someone pumps their tank out. It gets pumped when its full, not before, not after,and that’s the way its been forever. You watch what comes next. Next will be regular inspections of your septic system. They were able to get people to upgrade perfectly good oil tanks by way of the insurance company in hopes to get people to switch to natural gas and to increase insurance rates, costing homeowners allot of money when the vast majority of the tanks were good for another 15 or 20 years.. Each time they get away with making unnecessary changes the only ones who pay is Us The Home Owners and tax payers. The Ontario Government is not an all powerful dictatorship over Ontario Home Owners, and they need to back off and spend their time creating jobs and stimulating the economy, But Not Making Life More Expensive For Ontarians. I wonder which brain child dreamt this BS up.

  5. Joe A March 8, 2017

    I ask everyone who reads this article to take 5 minutes and to send an email. The link in the story makes it’s very easy to do. We cannot let another right be taken away from us! I can’t remember getting a right back once it was taken away!

  6. Donna Wilson March 6, 2017

    I will not be pumping my septic system every 5 years. Anyone who knows anything about septic systems should know that pumping kills the bacteria that breaks down the systems ability to break down the solids. As long as my septic system is working properly (the home owner definitely knows when it is not) I will not pump it. Anyone making this law knows nothing about rural life and they are making that clear

  7. Connie March 5, 2017

    you’ve heard something like this before. Government has no business in my bathroom. Don’t they have better things to do?

  8. robert armstrong March 1, 2017

    A few years ago I had my tank pumped after 15 yrs. The pumper advised me that the tank was only half full of solids and that I could have waited a few more years. This intrusion will not be introduced without a fight.

  9. Keith Williamson March 1, 2017

    We bought a house in 1976, built in 1960’s and added to in 1972. The original tank had been left to serve a 1/2 bath and a new system was added in 1973. There was just 2 of, both working until 1991, with periodic guests, Both were pumped out following our purchase in 1977. We maintained it, kept grease out and used, for example, single layer tissue. Neither was pumped out until we sold in 2012. The prospective buyer wanted a detailed inspection of both. The inspector dug up the ends of the bed runs, inspected the surface, etc etc. Suffice to say both beds and systems passed with flying colours after 35 years with no pump outs!!!! This is a real life experience, not a tree hugger text book approach.

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