Municipality of Highlands East Septic System Maintenance and Inspection Program

Submitted by Jim Sangster

As noted in our previous article, the Executive Board of the PLCA had been lobbying our local municipalities for several years to implement some type of program to aid in identifying and correcting any problem sewage disposal systems that may be having a detrimental effect on the quality of our lakes. We are pleased to note that the Municipality of Highlands East is entering into the third season of the septic system maintenance program (SMP). The following information is provided by the Municipality of Highlands East.

During the first season (summer 2017), properties on several lakes in the Gooderham area such as Stormy, Glamor, Koshlong, Tamarack Lakes were visited and inspected. Last summer season (2018), Gooderham Lake, Dark Lake and Grace River in the Wilberforce area and, Lower Paudash Lake properties were inspected and reported on. This summer, it is planned to complete Upper Paudash Lake.

An important part of the Program is the completion and return of the Property Questionnaire to the Municipality. These forms were sent out to all lakefront property owners with return envelopes. Accurate completion and return of this information is important in aiding the inspectors to complete the inspections and prepare accurate results. So, if you have not returned your Questionnaire, please make an effort to complete it to the best of your knowledge and return it to the Municipality.

The systems as inspected/surveyed are rated on a risk basis depending on the information obtained. The risk ratings range from low risk, through moderate, high to very high. The guidelines for the ratings are as follows:

Low Risk:

  • System located and newer than 10 years of age

  • Setbacks comply with the OBC

  • No vegetation (other than grass) within 3m of the dispersal bed

  • Permit found and owner aware of system – tank pumped regularly

Moderate Risk:

  • Overgrown dispersal bed, trees within 3m

  • Possible additions/bedrooms or cabins causing septic tank capacity to be exceeded

  • Privy damaged or falling apart

  • Greywater system not constructed to OBC standards

  • Exposed pipelines, system partially located

  • Outdoor shower without proper drain

High Risk:

  • Setbacks don’t comply with OBC

  • Structures built over tank or bed

  • System not located or owner unaware of location

  • Homemade systems

Very High Risk:

  • Steel tank – 40 + years old

  • Sewage visible or leaking (strong odor)

  • Tank or lid damaged, cracked or corroded

Results: Lower Paudash Lake

A total of 228 properties were visited and inspected on Lower Paudash last season. The risk ratings were as follows:
Low Risk – 151 or 66%
Moderate Risk – 64 or 28%
High Risk – 7 or 3%
Very High Risk – 6 or 3 %

It is interesting to note that these risk rating percentage results appear to be very similar to all of the other lake areas that have been surveyed to date. It will be interesting to compare the results for Upper Paudash.