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  FAQs — Frequently Asked Questions
Treatment Units

Q: What’s our role?

The Ottawa Septic System Office is the regulator for the City of Ottawa. Our role is to enforce any rules and regulations defined by provincial law as stipulated in the Ontario Building Code.

Q: Has the regulations always been governed under the Ontario Building Code?

No — Effective April 6, 1998, the responsibilities of the on-site sewage systems with a total daily flow of less than 10,000 litres per day were legislated from the Ministry of the Environment to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Part 8 of the Ontario Building Code is a direct transfer of responsibilities from the Environmental Protection Act.

Q: How is a septic system defined under the Ontario Building Code?

The Building Code Act defines a sewage system as a “building” and as such, a sewage system that is discharging effluent onto the surface of the ground, or has not been maintained or operated in accordance with the Ontario Building Code, is determined to be an unsafe "building."

Q: Who can design my septic system plan?

There are three avenues of approach:
  1 – Licensed designer
  2 – Licensed installer
  3 – Property owner.

During the design phase of your septic system replacement/new construction project, the following topics are generally covered:

  • Site visit to verify lot features like lot lines, current well placement, inventory current dwelling for number of bedrooms/plumbing fixtures/finished floor area
  • Tank and bed sizing to accommodate size of dwelling,
  • Best placement of system on lot respecting restricted distances to any lot features,
  • Elevations of lot, soil and water table conditions This information is required to adequately complete the Application for Demolition/Construction. It is strongly recommended that the licensed installer/designer submit the application on behalf of the property owner. If the property owner engages in this design service, a letter of authorization/agency is required to release any approved applications to an individual other than the property owner

Q: When do I need to submit an application

    1. Building a new home/building that is not serviced by City sewer or water
    2. Renovating your current home – especially when adding bedrooms, more plumbing fixtures or finished floor area in excess of 15 percent of the current foot print
    3. Replacing an aging system, that may have already exhausted its life span.
    4. Altering or remediating any part of the tank or leaching bed due to accidental interference (i.e digging a hole to install a deck post, large calliper tree)
    5. Failing system that permits raw sewage to exit directly to the surface (i.e., leak in tank, pipe/chamber in bed that is blocked/crushed preventing effluent from tank to flow into bed

Q: What is the septic application process for septic system replacement/new construction ?

For new/replacement systems — obtain copy of Application for Demolition/Construction application (11 pages in total), suggest consulting a licensed installer or qualified designer to determine the septic system design. This completed application is to be submitted directly to our offices:

  • Application requirements: Three (3) copies ,
  • Fee: Payment at time of submission (Fees for residential applications are on our Fee Schedule).
  • Supporting documents:
      — copy of site survey,
      — tax bill,
      — agreement to purchase or Title and Deed indicating property ownership/ legal and       civic address description of property in question.

  • Response Time: The Building Code directs that these be reviewed within a 10 day window, however our offices endeavour to respond within fivr business days — pending submission of all related documents/drawings/information as requested by the area inspector
  • Of note, new housing construction — septic applications are required to be approved prior to building application submission directly to the City of Ottawa Plans and Building departments.

Q: What are the responsibilities of the service provider?

  1. To conduct inspections on the treatment unit in accordance to the regime suggested by the manufacturer. Typically this requires at least an annual inspection of the electrical and filter components and testing of the resultant effluent on an as needed basis. Speak to your service provider for exact details, they may vary depending on manufacturer.
  2. To provide sufficient notice to property owner that contract is approaching expiry and make necessary arrangements for renewal in a timely fashion.
  3. Reflect any changes on contract which may affect adequate servicing as per contract
  4. Indicate on contract if property owner account is in good standing or suspended during life cycle of agreement.

Q: What would happen if I don’t renew my service agreement with my current service provider?

Without a current contract or proof of regular servicing the property owner would be in violation of the Ontario Building Code which stipulates that:

“No person shall operate a treatment unit other than a septic system, unless the person has entered into an agreement whereby servicing and maintenance of the treatment unit and its related components will be carried out by a person who: (b) Is authorized by the manufacturer to service and maintain that type of treatment unit.” O.B.C reference

Q: What are the consequences of not having a valid and current contract?

Failure to have a valid and current contract will result in an Order to Comply issued from our office. If the property owner takes no action, this will result in a summons to appear in court under violation of the Building Code Act, 1992

Q: What are my responsibilities as the property owner?

  1. Copy of a service report by a manufacturer trained service provider within the last
    6 months, or
  2. Proof of manufacturer training by your selected service provider, if requested by this
    office, or
  3. Contact your service provider to renew/renegotiate a service contract. A copy of the renewed service agreement must then be submitted to the Ottawa Septic System Office on or before the existing contract’s expiry date, and

      a. Contract must be signed by both parties, that being the current property owner on
          title and the designate from the service provider, and
      b. Service provider must indicate on renewed contract that client’s account is in good
          standing order, which means that it is clear of any service suspensions.

  4. If change of property owner occurs, current property owner must disclose to prospective purchaser existing treatment unit contract and advise service provider of impending sale and name of new owner.

Q: What are my options if I am not satisfied with my current service provider?

  1. Contact the manufacturer
  2. Contact the Better Business Bureau Ottawa

Q: How Can I get my well records?

Private Wells are regulated by the Ministry of the Environment under the Ontario Water Resources Act, R.R.O. 1990, REGULATION 903 Wells.

For more information concerning installation, maintenance and records of wells please contact the Ministry of the Environment at 1-800-267-0974.

Q: How far should my well be from my septic system?

The distance of a well to various components of a private sewage system is covered in Part 8- Sewage Systems sentence of the Ontario Building Code.

Ottawa Septic System Office | septic@rvca.ca | FAQs