Dysart et al is proposing changes to its septic maintenance inspection program ahead of the upcoming testing season.

Bri Quinn, program supervisor, told council Feb. 27 the changes clarify requirements for pump-outs, outline new components such as lake health assessments, and look at the implications of the recently-approved shortterm rental bylaw.

The township is also looking to increase its fees this year, with an approximate 12 per cent bump to $220 per inspection attempt.

A public meeting has been scheduled for March 26 to further discuss the changes.

“We’ve been working closely on a strategy to make sure we’re moving in the right direction with this program, ensuring we’re evolving as the industry needs us to evolve,” Quinn said.

The program has been running since 2017, with Dysart managing it completely in-house since 2022. Each year, staff focus on one geographic region and connect with homeowners to set up inspections. Last year, the department tested over 1,000 systems in ‘Area 4’, which encompassed homes within 30-metres of lakes in and around Haliburton village, including Grass, Head, Drag and Kashagawigamog.

Quinn said the township received feedback from those in the industry last year, who found it difficult to keep up with the number of follow-up work orders. As a result, they’re scaling back this season – spreading inspections in ‘Area 5’ over two years.

This year, staff will focus on properties around Grace, Farquhar, Barnum, Benoir and Elephant lakes. In 2025, inspections will largely be done within Harcourt Park, including Fishtail, Long, Allen, East, Little Straggle, Charlie George, and Kennaway lakes. It will amount to roughly 500 inspections each year, Quinn said, which, along with software and equipment enhancements, is the reason for the fee hike.

“Even with this increase, staff have effectively been able to keep the fee under that which was being invoiced by WSP Canada in 2021,” Quinn said, noting the company billed the township $228 per inspection.

Property owners requesting an inspection after Sept. 1 will face an additional $100 fee. Property owners are billed the full rate should they miss a scheduled inspection.

Referencing the other changes, Quinn said for systems that require a pump out, the township has clarified the tank must be pumped entirely, leaving little to no contents behind. The township is also asking that haulers provide brief comment on tank/ component conditions that may be more visible following a pump out.

Through the lake health assessment, staff will provide property owners with an overall score on their shoreline conditions, while offering tips on how to improve their score and help maintain healthy lakes. Quinn noted this is informational only and will not feature any enforcement measures.

Once the STR bylaw comes into effect, inspections of those properties will be completed during the township’s scheduled inspection program dates, Quinn said. She anticipates inspections beginning in May.