The Saugeen Times has been doing some research on the sewage issue with regard to the home owners and business people north of the Saugeen River.
One thing is clear. It is an area for experts and the experts who make the decisions in this case are the Ministry of the Environment and Municipal Engineers Association. The buck stops with them. Our Town Council have to fall back on their recommendations.
The report was prepared and guided by the elements of the Master Plan of 2006, county plans and provincial plans. As this plan was being prepared there were public meetings conducted. They were not heavily attended.
The word 'septage' may be a new word for many. The word processor does not know it.. It is defined by the Ministry of the Environment as follows:
"Septage, the informal term for hauled sewage, classifies all matter (liquids and solids) that is pumped out of septic tanks and holding tanks. Such tanks are found on residential, commercial and industrial properties. Septage is raw and untreated, and must not be confused with sewage biosolids, which is the term applied to treated municipal sewage from a sewage treatment plant (STP) that meets specific standards"
Some home owners north of the river do not have septic fields, but they have large holding tanks and depend upon regular 'pump outs'. This is not the every two year pump-out of septic tanks, but has to be done when the tank gets near full. There is no drainage from it. Regular pump outs are called for from time to time in normal septic systems that do have fields, but far less than holding tanks.
Holding tanks are often found on newer homes. This is done for a number of reasons including;
How is pumped septage disposed of? This question is again outlined by the Ministry of the Environment as follows:
"Where is septage disposed? Septage is either disposed of at Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs), landfill sites, dewatering trenches or waste stabilization lagoons or land applied. The ministry is committed to ending the land application of all untreated septage. In Northern Ontario, dewatering trenches are the primary means of disposal, often on crown land. As few alternatives are available, the use of trenches for septage management is expected to continue."
You will note the bolded sentence: (The ministry is committed to ending the land application of all untreated septage.) Bold added by the Saugeen Times.
This statement clearly states a goal. If you have septic tanks in the Town of Saugeen Shores sometime in the future, they will have to be treated in a STP and not spread on the land, if the Ministry has its way. When a septic field is removed, it may require environmental cleanup and removal of the sludge left by septage. Since this may not be fully treated, it may require STP too. There are very strict regulations about old gas tanks found on land of former gas stations. Septic tank removal or building near them may be the subject of future legislation.
Of course the output of a good septic system is water and septage. If the system is flooded with water, then there is a danger that breakdown will not take place and the contaminated matter will clog the field. What is desired is for the septic system to break down the fecal matter and this takes time. Too much water in the household reduces the ability of the system to perform as well.
28/08/2009 05:48 PM
The average daily water consumption and maximum consumption in a 24 hour period was reported in cubic meters for Saugeen Shores. Converted to US gallons it is:
Average daily consumption profjected in Saugeen Shores for 20 years: 1,814,597 gallons
Maximum daily consumption in Saugeen Shores projected in Saugeen Shores for 20 years 3,764,451 gallons
With a population of about 12,000 this amounts to
Per Capita Daily Consumption is about 151 gallons
Per Capita Maximum Daily Consumption is about 314 gallons
*(about 3.8 liters to 1 US Gallon)
These are really surprisingly large numbers and of course they include commercial consumption. lawn watering in season and uses like car washing, pool filling, fire fighting and the like
Checking back with old Southampton records indicates that over 1,000,000 gallons per day sometimes for the small community did occur and the Town Staff encouraged water conservation to keep the level below 100 gallons per capita. The Ontario average is about 88 gallons per capita, so we either are exceptional users of water or the basis for counting is not the same.
The reason water consumption is important is that much of it is returned to the sewage system and is treated. Another important reason is that much of the water used in a house serviced by septic fields or tanks influences the workings of the field.
One might think that having a septic field would reduce the amount of water to be treated. This is true, but it has some ramifications and septic fields produce septage that needs to be disposed of environmentally.
Even the biggest skeptic on the need for sewers will agree that they would not like to spread their neighbors septage on their lawn in the summer.
Managing a septic system on your own is not as easy as you might think. If you are a retired couple, then you on average will use over 200 gallons of water per day. The stats say it is more like 300 gallons. When the kids and grandchildren get involved, you use a lot more and this sometimes can cause excessive flow into the field. That is, there may not be time for the bacterial action to take place.
Now the septage eventually gets to either a sewage treatment plant or it is spread on fields in the area or it is retained partially in the field itself. Many residents are surprised by this.
It appears that Ontario is moving toward banning that practice in the future so that all septage will have to be treated in STPs in whatever manner the Ministery decides. This will have to be considered and paid for by the entire community and not just those north of the river.
The experts say that a properly operating septic system produces bacterial action that is designed to break down the fecal matter. It has to have time to work.
We recognize the issues involved are more complicated than at first glance and have not focused at all on septage. They are as follows:
It is clear from the published language of the Ministry that they want to do the following over time:
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