Thirty-seven per cent of Minden Hills septic systems inspected in 2021 aren’t up to par, however, most are in low-risk condition.
WSP Global, a company hired to conduct septic system inspections across the township between 2021-2025, presented its findings at a March 31 council meeting.
It detailed issues and trends found within the 1,072 systems surveyed at 820 properties in the first stage of the inspections, which will run each summer for the next four years.
The checks cost homeowners $220. If fixes are needed, remedial inspections cost another $220.Those with septic systems installed after 2016 are exempt.
The report said the majority of systems surveyed are between 20-30 years old, with 620 or 58 per cent – designated low risk, 420 medium risk, and 34 high risk.
Brandon Aubin of WSP said educating property owners about proper septic system care, as well as the requirements, seems to be a key issue moving forward, as well as “highlighting for them this is a benefit. It’s not to put systems under the scrutiny of the building code.”
Common issues found include high levels of waste within the septic bed, structural issues with septic tanks and improper use of the area above the septic bed.
Coun. Bob Carter asked if there is a calculation that can tell if a septic system is big enough for a property.
Aubin said inspectors compare notes from a property’s building permits to the size of the tank, making sure it can handle capacity. There are 126 properties that did not receive inspections for various reasons.
Carter said, “people will do everything they can from preventing the inspection from taking place because they’ve got a woefully inadequate system. “I would like to make sure [that at] these 15 per cent of properties, all efforts are made to get these done.”
Coun. Pam Sayne said she received a lot of calls about the program. She said she was concerned a high volume of calls to municipal staff would use up resources.
“Part of the reason we decided to contract this out instead of bringing it in to staff was that it would take pressure off of our building department to have this outsourced,” she said.
“I think there needs to be the ability to answer questions online.”
Colin McKnight, Minden Hills’ chief building official, estimated he received thousands of calls about septic inspections last year. He said it’s difficult to respond to that high a volume of queries.
CAO Trisha McKibbin added, “a big key is the communication piece. Communication between WSP and the municipality and both the communication between WSP and the municipality out to the public.”
Inspections are set to continue, in 2022; Duck, Horseshoe, Mountain lakes; in 2023, Soyers, Kashagawigamog, Canning lakes; in 2024, Little Boshkung, Twelve Mile, Brady and Bob lakes; and in 2025, Davis, Bat, South and Bow lakes.