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New septic field regulations no surprise

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WINNIPEG — New septic field regulations aimed at protecting the province’s waterways are now in force in Manitoba.

But a person who installs septic fields says the new changes won’t surprise property owners looking at installing a septic system.

Conservation Minister Stan Struthers on Monday made official "aggressive new rules governing human sewage.’’

"Manitobans recognize it is time to move beyond outdated and unsustainable ways of dealing with sewage in favour of more responsible methods," Struthers said in a statement.

"I am pleased to announce strong new measures that will help protect human health and the environment."

The new regulations include requiring a two-acre minimum lot size for the installation of disposal fields, preventing septic fields in a number of sensitive areas, including Pelican Lake and Rock Lake, as well as Crown land cottage developments, provincial parks, and a three-kilometre wide corridor along the Red River between Winnipeg and Selkirk, banning existing sewage ejectors when a property is sold, and forcing homeowners to hook up to municipal collection systems in serviced areas.

The new regulations were first posted for public comment in January and public consultations went on into May.

Dave Futros, of Farm-Rite Plumbing and Excavation Ltd., a company which installs septic systems in areas including West and East St. Paul and the Rural Municipality of Springfield, said he’s been telling people for months about the septic field changes coming down the pipe.

Futros said on Monday that the province has met with representatives in his profession for months to keep them abreast of what was happening.

"It was supposed to be passed in June. All the contractors have been made aware."

Futros said that, whereas in the past homeowners only wanted to put septic fields in, that attitude has changed.

"I’ve been at this 30 years now and I find in the last two years homeowners don’t shy away that much for holding tanks," he said.

"The odd one backs out of a lot deal, but not the majority."

Al Beck, director of environmental services with Conservation, said provincial inspectors have spent the last year examining septic systems in West St. Paul near the Red River and this summer they looked at Grindstone/Hecla Provincial Park.

In West St. Paul, 10 per cent of the septic systems on 167 properties were leaking raw sewage, while 25 per cent were illegally dumping grey water into ditches. At Grindstone/Hecla, 11 per cent of the 542 cottage septic systems checked were found to be working improperly, with almost all of them at fault for dumping grey water onto the ground. Grey water represents used water flowing draining, for example from sinks and washers. It does not include water flushed from toilets. 

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

 

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