Dysart et al is moving ahead with plans to eliminate mandatory pump outs in its septic re-inspection program and hire a third-party firm to handle inspections.

Council voted 6-1 on Feb. 25 to support staff’s proposed changes to the program and have a new bylaw brought forward. Only Coun. John Smith opposed.

Chief building official Karl Korpela said the mandatory pump outs are unnecessary and have been the most controversial aspect of Dysart’s program. He said removing them should help increase compliance and inspection speed. He proposed pump outs only occur under maintenance requirements of the building code.

“It was determined that mandatory pump outs don’t contribute towards protecting our lakes based on the results that we’re finding,” Korpela said. “Eliminating mandatory pump outs also allows us to concentrate on other issues we’re seeing.”

Coun. Larry Clarke spoke in support of the effort and only pumping out when it is felt to be necessary. Under the staff proposal, an inspector would do a sludge test to decide.

“What’s important in this area, to me, he’s come back to us with a workable and sustainable program,” Clarke said.

Smith was against, noting the Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners Associations (CHA) and several lake associations feel it’s needed.

“Every one of them says that pump out, it’s a really important part. They’ve pointed out several examples where flaws would not have been found if it were not for the pump out,” Smith said.

Korpela said he has also heard from those sources opposed to the policy change.

“I want to emphasize a lot of that is based on misinformation about how beneficial a mandatory pump out actually is,” Korpela said. “There’s no benefit to a mandatory pump out. We’re not degrading our program whatsoever.”

Other septic inspection programs, including in Algonquin Highlands and the one about to proceed in Minden Hills, do not include mandatory pumpouts. Other changes proposed in a slate of revisions includes owners being notified of inspection dates and having them change it if necessary, rather than having them book the inspections themselves.

The changes come after compliance issues experienced in the first area surveyed in the program, which included Kennisis Lake and Little Kennisis Lake. A total of 112 out of 964 properties failed to comply, or 12 per cent.

Korpela said dealing with even a quarter of the infractions is not possible under current staffing levels and has proposed non-compliant properties be included as the first batch in the revised program.

The hiring of a firm, as done in Algonquin Highlands, is expected to improve consistency over the Dysart’s current method of having owners select from a list of 12 qualified inspectors, Korpela said.

The new bylaw is slated to return to Dysart’s Environment and Climate Change Committee before getting approval at the March council meeting.

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