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Septic re-inspection explained
May 19, 2017
BY TERRY MCQUITTY
Septic re-inspections were back on the agenda at the Douro-Dummer council meeting on Tuesday evening. Mayor J. Murray Jones welcomed representatives from Peterborough Public Health (PPH) to the meeting and explained that there appeared to be confusion regarding septic re-inspection that spurred from the council meeting of April 18. Jones told the gallery that Public Health was on hand to explain the procedure and price behind the re-inspection program, but stressed this was for information only and no decisions regarding mandatory re-inspections would be made at this meeting.
Matt Faris led the delegation for Peterborough Public Health. Faris works as a Health Inspector for the organization and has been responsible for septic re-inspection programs in other municipalities. Faris explained that there are two different types of septic re-inspection programs and the Ontario Building Code (OBC) refers to these programs as, “Sewage System Maintenance Inspection Programs. There are both mandatory inspection programs and discretionary inspection programs.
Mandatory inspection programs are dictated by the province under the Vulnerable areas” identified under the Clean Water Act, 2006. These properties are typically close to municipal drinking water wells. There are 124 such properties in Peterborough city and county and 15 in the township of Douro-Dummer. These properties must be inspected every five years at a cost of $325 per inspection
Discretionary maintenance inspection programs are a different animal. These programs are initiated by municipalities and are meant to identify high risk systems before they cause any damage to the environment. It is this type of system that Douro-Dummer is interested in implementing.
In the Lakefield Herald story of April 21, 2017 it was stated that the Public Health Unit charged $350 per inspection and in reality the price is $325. Faris explained the reasoning behind the price tag.
Faris explained that the Health Unit is the best choice because Peterborough Public Health is the principal authority under the Building Code Act and responsible for enforcing Part 8 (Sewage Systems) of the Ontario Building Code. Faris also stressed that PPH houses the historical files relating to existing sewage systems and operates an extensive up to date database dating back to 1976. Also those preforming the inspections are educated at accredited post secondary schools and Certified through the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors.
The process for re-inspection is relatively simple. PPH receives a list of properties from the municipality. After receiving the list PPH searches their database then new files are made. At this point PPH determines which properties are exempt.
PPH sends owners letter and questionnaire. Owners may request an inspection time and in turn PPH performs a Phase 1 visual inspection of each property.
Once the Phase 1 inspection report is completed and pictures taken, if no concerns, a re-inspection certificate is issued and an information package is sent to the property owner which includes any documentation found in the PPH database.
If there are any issues detected in the Phase 1 inspection PPH moves along to Phase 2. Phase 2 may include such things as a follow up with owner, digging to find system components or dye tests. If concerns are confirmed owners are informed that changes are needed and PPH follows up to ensure the changes have been made.
Councillor Shelagh Landsman asked if the $325 fee was the same if there was work required or not to which the answer was yes. The $325 is a flat rate regardless if work on the system was required or not. He also told council that it is up to the municipality to decide how the $325 is to be collected.