Most of Ontario’s waterfront property owners rely on on-site wastewater treatment systems to manage our household water. Understanding how our systems work and the importance of maintaining them is important to protect our lakes and rivers from contaminants. View the links below for more information.
Need an onsite wastewater expert? Visit the Ontario Onsite Wastewater Association’s “Find an Expert” search tool.
March 2018 – FOCA has released a video about Cottage Country Septic Systems, including an overview about the parts of a septic system, maintenance tips, signs of trouble and more! Scroll down this webpage to view the video, or click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VeTGVnkYA4
Also, watch video of Rick Esselment of OOWA speaking at the June 2018 Hastings Highlands event, Poop Talk & Aliens, on the subject of Septic Systems: the good, the bad and the ugly (video, 1 hour). This video was made possible by a cooperative effort of Hastings Highlands Council and Interlake Group.
ongoing 2018-19 Project: Exploring Septic Maintenance Programs – FOCA has undertaken a collaborative research project with university and organizational partners to explore successes, challenges, and lessons-learned via Ontario municipal re-inspection programs for residential on-site wastewater systems, commonly called septic systems. FOCA initiated the call for this research because of concerns brought forward by our members across Ontario. For more, visit the project webpage: http://rplc-capr.ca/septic-maintenance-project/. FOCA will release the final project report in 2019.
Septic System Resources:
- Septic Systems – a FOCA Factsheet (PDF; 2 pages)
- Septic Smart: Understanding your home’s septic system (PDF; 12 pages)
- FOCA article, Managing waste from septic systems – from the Winter 2015/16 edition of Onsite, the Ontario Onsite Wastewater Association’s Newsletter
- Help! I need a new Septic System (PDF) – an excerpt from the FOCA Newsletter, Fall 2011
- Septic Questions answered by OASIS (Ontario Association of Sewage Industry Services)
- Sewage System FAQ (PDF; 11 pages) from the Mississippi Rideau Septic System Office
- Septic Systems 101 (PDF; 37 pages) from the Ontario Onsite Wastewater Association
- On‐Site Sewage System Maintenance Inspections (PDF; 7 pages) from MMAH
- Source Protection Plans and Septic Maintenance – Progress, Challenges and Lessons Learned This article provides a summary of current septic system inspection programs across Ontario (source: Ontario Onsite Wastewater Association Newsletter – Summer 2015)
- Septic Smart Videos from OMAFRA, and see these video resources from FOCA:
UPDATE: To FOCA’s great disappointment, and despite a compelling case laid out for a better maintenance regime for on-site sewage systems made through the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (see “Feb. 23” below), both the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), and the Ministry of Housing (MMAH) have stuck to the status quo.
In the MOECC response, they countered that high priority risks from sewage were already being addressed through the Clean Water Act (which only considers municipal drinking water sources) and that, through the existing Building Code, local municipalities were empowered to undertake further measures. In reality, this happens unevenly, with poorly understood results.
The MMAH response referenced the fact that the OBC Part 8 had just recently (2016-17) been reviewed by a technical committee, and they reiterated that during this review they made a political decision NOT to mandate a tank pump out. They also took no interest in any related provisions such as requiring record-keeping or other maintenance obligations.
Continued: February 23, 2018 – Having long been concerned about the inadequacy of the Ontario Building Code to deal with Maintenance and Management of onsite sewage systems (septic systems), FOCA, along with the Ontario Onsite Wastewater Association (OOWA) has filed a Request for Review with the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario.
July 2017 – No mandatory pump outs, inspections being included in the revised (2019) Ontario Building Code. “The Ministry will not be moving forward with the proposals put forth in Phase One of the Building Code consultation which would have required regular inspections, pumping out of septic tanks and keeping of the septic tanks and treatment units’ maintenance records .” For a more complete description of the background and the process to make this decision, please see this article in the Summer 2017 edition of the OOWA magazine. (PDF, 1 page)