Private Septic Systems

Implications for the French River municipality resulting from the Clean Water Act 2006.

  1. In terms of the relationship between the Clean Water Act and the Building Code Act, municipalities are required under the legislation to amend their official plans and zoning by-laws to conform to the source protection plan. Until source protection plans are approved, decisions under the Building code Act with respect to potential industrial and residential development are not required to take into consideration the source protection planning process. Municipalities would however, be prudent to consider the planning process and implications of the conformity requirements in the future with the source protection plans as decisions made now under the Building Code Act will not be grandfathered with the approval of the source protection act. However, the municipality of the French River is not within a source protection planning area and since no source protection plan is being prepared for the French river the above paragraph does not directly apply. The following 3 items do apply.
  2. The proposed changes to the Building Code regarding on-site sewage system inspection programs are intended to facilitate compliance with section 8.9 (operation and maintenance) in order to support the codes health safety and environmental integrity objectives. Section 8.9 of the Building Code requires that all on-site sewage systems be operated and maintained to prevent breakout of effluent to the surface, leakage from any component of the system, or leakage into ground water or surface water. Moreover, sewage systems must be operated in accordance with the basis on which their construction was approved and manufacturers requirements. Section 8.9 does not require that all existing systems comply with the requirements set out in part 8 of the Building Code for the installation of new systems. This recognizes the principle that standards for new construction are frequently not feasible for retrofit situations, either for technical or cost reasons. Any system that was not originally installed to code by a registered installer would not be so grandfathered but could tested and approved.
  3. The maintenance inspection changes are intended to alter the existing authority for inspectors to issue unsafe and emergency orders under section 15.9 and 15.10 respectively of the Building Code Act. If an inspector conducting a on site sewage system maintenance inspection has reason to believe that the system is failing (structurally unsound, hazardous, emitting effluent, or not operated in accordance with its standards of approval or manufacturers requirements then the inspector may issue an unsafe order under section 15.9 of the Building Code Act. The inspector has the discretion to require that the system, or components thereof, be brought into compliance with the Act or Code.
  4. The changes to the Building Code Act enable the government to make regulations regarding the mandatory inspection of septic systems. The Ministry of Municipal affairs and Housing (MMAH) is considering a regulation to bring this into force. As this regulation moves forward as proposed municipalities will have the power to say that mandatory inspections are required in their full municipality or any part thereof.