Minden Hills to perform lid-off septic inspections
By Chad Ingram
Published Oct. 19, 2017
The Township of Minden Hills will create a septic re-inspection program that will entail lid-off inspections of residents’ septic tanks, as well as the pumping of tanks.
Councillors discussed what type of program the township should institute during an Oct. 12 committee-of-the-whole meeting.
Municipalities have been mandated by the province to create septic re-inspection programs, although what type of inspections are performed is up to each individual municipality.
There are four basic types of septic inspection. Type 1 involves only paperwork and requires no site visit. Type 2 includes a site visit, but inspectors don’t actually look inside the tank. Type 3 involves a lid-off inspection of septic tanks and Type 4 includes a lid-off inspection, and then a second inspection after the tank has been pumped out.
Councillors have previously discussed inspections, noting the link between healthy septic systems and healthy lakes. Improperly functioning septic systems leach phosphorous into water bodies, phosphorous being a leading cause of algae blooms, which can seriously and negatively impact aquatic ecosystems.
“Is there any reason not to do Type 4?” Minden Hills Reeve Brent Devolin asked his colleagues. (Devolin’s title will officially change to “mayor” when council passes a bylaw at the end of the month.) Councillors seemed in agreement that Type 4 inspections were the way to go.
As to who will perform the inspections, Councillor Pam Sayne said she’d like to see local inspectors or companies involved.
“There are a lot of people in our community who have inspection certificates,” Sayne said. “I would like to explore hiring people who are qualified under the Building Code, who live here, in Haliburton County.”
However, chief administrative officer Lorrie Blanchard pointed out that legislation prevents municipalities from prioritizing local businesses simply because they are local.
“If you put out an RFP [request for proposals], there’s legislation that says you can’t favour local bidders,” Blanchard said.
Staff will proceed with the creation of process to facilitate the inspections. In the meantime, anyone who was about to pump their septic systems anyway should do so, chief building official Colin McKnight said.
“If it’s due to be pumped, I’d get it pumped,” McKnight said.
Most septic tank pumpings already come with an inspection report.
The county’s other three lower-tier townships have already instituted or are in the process of instituting septic re-inspection programs, each municipality enacting a different type of program.
Highlands East has started a Type 2 program, where university students visit properties, determining what sort of system is in place and asking residents to fill out a questionnaire. Only in cases where septic tanks are deemed to be high-risk does a lid-off inspection take place.
In Algonquin Highlands, council voted to hire firm WSP Canada, which will begin lid-off inspections next year. A fee of $180 per inspection will offset the cost of providing the program.
Like Minden Hills, Dysart et al council has also decided it will create a Type 4 program.
It is estimated the cost for the program in Minden Hills will be between $1 million and $5 million. With some 5,400 households in the township on septic or holding tank systems, it is estimated the annual sewage volume is 12,150,000 litres.