It is very important for you, your family and your fellow citizens to properly maintain your septic system, but it is even more important considering the direct impact septic systems have on the quality of the watershed in Gore. A small defect can cause problems that far outweigh the simple cost of repairs.
Sewage leaks from a defective septic system promote the growth of algae and vegetation and lower the level of dissolved oxygen. Your system may allow nutriments such as phosphorus and nitrates to leach out into the lake, and these increase the proliferation of cyanobacteria. A poorly functioning septic system also promotes the growth of harmful bacteria such as protozoa and viruses that can contaminate groundwater, streams and lakes, and also put people at risk of coming into direct contact with wastewater.
Regular maintenance is the best way to prevent a breakdown of your septic system.
The municipality requires all property owners to empty their septic tank:
- every two (2) years for permanent residents,
- every four (4) years for part-time residents.
A copy of the invoice for emptying your tank must be sent to the Municipality.
Other things you can do...
- Check your weeping field regularly for soft spots, backflow of liquid, odours and soil compaction.
- Check your plumbing (sinks, toilets, showers) to prevent leaks.
- Run your appliances (dishwasher and washing machines) as well as your taps one at a time.
- Wait a few hours between laundry loads and wash full loads.
- Direct the water from your roof, terrace and driveway away from your weeping field.
- Avoid using septic tank additives that are superfluous and have no impact on the frequency of emptying the tank. These substances also pass through the weeping field and then find their way into our streams and lakes.
- Avoid using a kitchen waste grinder (garborator). They put a lot of organic solids into the system that promote the growth of bacteria and other unwanted microbes.
- Avoid using products that kill bacteria because they also kill organic components needed to make your septic system run well;
- antibiotics (they kill bacteria);
- household cleaners that contain bleach, acids or disinfectants;
- polishing products;
- caustic drain cleaners.
- Avoid using products with warning labels that mention health risks if they are ingested or come into contact with the skin.
- Never dispose of grease or oil in your drain.
- Avoid products such as phosphorus and nitrates that are found in many detergents. They are a direct cause of the emergence of cyanobacteria and reduce the level of dissolved oxygen in the watershed.
- Never throw cigarette butts, sanitary napkins and other non-organic solids into the toilet.
Alternatives to toxic cleaners
|Soap||⇒||Choose non-toxic products without phosphates.|
|Scrouring powder||⇒||Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda).|
|Fibreglass cleaner||⇒||Baking soda paste.|
|Floor cleaner||⇒||One cup of vinegar in five litres of water.|
|Window cleaner||⇒||One cup of vinegar in five litres of water.|
|Copper cleaner||⇒||Lemon juice and salt.|
|Brass cleaner||⇒||Clean with Worcestershire sauce or a paste of equal parts waters, salt and vinegar. Rinse off.|
|Chrome cleaner||⇒||Clean with cider vinegar, polish with baby oil.|
|To unblock a drain||⇒||Pour vinegar and baking soda down the drain. Finish with boiling water.|
|To remove mould||⇒||Use equal parts lemon juice or vinegar with salt.|
|To clean wood||⇒||Three parts olive oil and one part white winegar.|
Septic system failure
Your septic system may be defective even if it seems to be working well. A well maintained system is designed to last 20 to 25 years. Breaks are often caused by saturation of the soil around the system, organic deposits, or vegetation. However, many other factors can contribute to premature failure of a septic system.
Possible causes of septic system failure:
- Pipes have been blocked or broken by roots.
- Soil was saturated by heavy rain.
- Tiles have broken.
- The system was poorly located, poorly designed or poorly installed.
- System was poorly maintained.
Signs that a septic system is not working properly:
- Odour of rotten eggs inside or outside the house.
- Sewage backs up into the toilet or bathtub.
- Sewage water seeps to the surface above the weeping field.
- Loud gurgling sounds in the plumbing system.
- Pale green grass growing above the weeping field.
- A test you can do yourself is now available free of charge at the municipal office for all registered taxpayers.
What to do if your septic system breaks down
- Call a municipal inspector immediately, Jason Morrison or Donald Pressé at 450-562-2025. They will give you on-site recommendations regarding the steps you should take.
- Empty your septic tank. This will give you a bit of time before repairing your system but it is very important to conserve water during this period. Emptying your tank in case of a failure is only a short-term solution.
- Have your system inspected to determine the cause of the failure. Fix the problem to prevent future failures.
- Repair your system without delay. The law requires that you do so. Please be advised that the municipality will take the necessary steps in case of negligence or failure to cooperate.
Rural Program for the Improvement of Septic systems
« Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) are aquatic micro-organisms. Some species produce natural poisons when they die: cyanotoxins. These become a problem when they are present in abundance and reproduce exponentially. ... The main culprit is too much phosphate leaching into lakes along with (as cited as a first cause by the author) effluent from septic systems.»
- Many people now believe that defective domestic septic systems is one of the main causes of the deterioration of bodies of water due to the presence of cyanobacteria or coliform bacteria;
- The Government has recognized this problem and, through various programs for improving or renovating municipal infrastructures, has offered assistance to municipalities who need to build or renovate their water supply and sewage treatment facilities.
- The result is that some citizens receive financial assistance to install or maintain their sanitary installations, while others must pay the entire cost to build or renovate their septic systems on their own.
- The consequences are:
- Citizens are treated inequitably by the Government which assists one category of citizens but not another.
- One class of citizens, usually rural inhabitants, bears a greater financial burden.
- The end result of these consequences is that owners often choose to ignore the fact that their septic system is inadequate because they do not have the financial means to fix them to comply with regulations. Therefore the systems continue to leak contaminants into the environment.
The program we are proposing is inspired by the Canada Small Business Financing Program. Under the program, the Government of Canada makes it easier for small businesses to get loans from financial institutions by sharing the risk with lenders by guaranteeing the loan.
(Program to Protect bodies of water) as proposed:
- The taxpayer obtains an attestation from the municipality stating that his septic system does not comply with regulations;
- The taxpayer goes to his financial institution with a service offer from a company to install or renovate the septic system in question;
- The loan is automatically approved and the financial institution issues the funds upon presentation of a final bill;
- The work is exempt from the GST;
- A tax credit will be given to cover the interest on the loan if the financial situation of the taxpayer so requires;
- When the property in question is sold, the taxpayer commits to repay what remains of the borrowed capital;
- The same program will apply to farms that need to build retention basins;
- This program could be part of the next federal budget and a federal-provincial agreement should allow for harmonization of the QST.