Hah! You laugh. Me too, but it's true.
The Ontario Building Code describes
how it is to be done and gives no alternatives and just to add to this
hypocrisy it is enforced by your local Health
Department. Now I thought this to be more than a little dumb so I wrote to
the (then) environment minister, the
Honourable Leona Dombrowsky. . The Chinese have been doing this for 1000's of years and now
even the Americans, who incidentally are so backward that they still use the
English system of units which even the English have abandoned. Not as
backward as we Canucks though. The Honourable minister replied, and I
appreciate that she did, saying "...the legislation relating to household
sewage falls under the Ontario Building Code Act, which is administered by
Municipal Affairs." She also passed on my letter and reuse data (which she
seemed to like) to the Honourable John
Gerretsen who among other things is responsible for seeing that
household sewage pollution is done according to code. Just to clear up any
confusion over this point, and not to try to hard to second guess what the
Honourable minister meant; I believe she is saying that her department only
deals with cleaning up the environment while John's department mandates it's
pollution. So environmental pollution caused by household sewage is of no
concern of her department. Of course this clears up everything. Well it
does. I think. (See update below)
Soon I received a letter from the Honourable John Gerretsen who( I can hardly believe that we have another George M. Bush.), in his letter, stated that pollution of one's land was mandated by Section 8 of the Building Code Act, and sure enough that code does outline the acceptable methods of polluting one's land. Of course these pollution regulations have to be enforced by someone and who would that be? No don't bother to guess. The pollution regulation is enforced by no other than the Chief Building Official who is employed by the Health Department which of course is under John's watchful eye.
Now the interesting thing about this is that the code does not make any exceptions for those of us who don't wish to pollute our land at all. I suggested the possibility of purifying the effluent to our local Chief Building Official in the Health Department and he responded that, and I quote "you can't do that". He's quite right too. The code makes no provision for refusing to pollute. In rural Ontario we must pollute. It's the law. (See update below)
Shades of George Orwell do yuh think?
John poops and Leona cleans it up. It's a government make work project plain and simple. Trouble is Leona has already said that she's not responsible for John's poop.
Well, I think it smells.
Unfortunately there are three serious changes, two social, and one environmental, that are not being considered. The first of these is that rural populations are changing. Where houses were a mile or more apart they are now sitting side by side along rural roads, and in small towns and where the elimination of the small family farm has eroded the tax base the towns cannot afford to go to a central sewage system. We, being an affluent society, are now dumping much more water into our tanks than we used to. We have bigger sinks, and bigger tubs, and bigger hot water tanks for longer showers. Result? Private wells are being polluted by septic systems in ever increasing numbers. If not by your own septic system then by your neighbours.
The second, and perhaps the most devastating problem, is just now starting to catch up with us. It is 'Climate Change'. What has that got to do with septic systems? Just this. For a septic tank to work properly (Properly means that it breaks down the solids so that the raw untreated effluent can flow easily into the ground.) it must be warm. Summer? No problem. Winter? Well, the heavy snow cover keeps the tank warm when the temperature drops way down. At least it used to. Now that global warming is upon us the snow cover is too thin and the top of effluent in the tank freezes over. This stops the septic action which in turn causes a build-up of solids to the point where they are forced out the outlet and into the tiles. The solids plug up the tile holes and the whole system fails and backs up into your house. Neat eh? There are already many news reports of tank failures due to global warming coming in on a regular basis. Google is a good place to find them just search Google news with the word septic . There is one other point that should be given some consideration. Food for thought. When a new septic system is installed the ground is always tested to see that there is good drainage. What we don't test for is when the drainage is too good. Nobody knows what the geological conditions are under the tile field (or outhouse or cesspool). The phreatic zone. It can just as easily be a rock slope leading directly to you well only 100 feet away as it could be a rock fissure or gravel pit draining directly down into the water table. One thing is sure, once you poop in the ground it's going to go somewhere and that somewhere will ultimately be the water table. Septic systems do not purify the waste, they simply break down the solids so that they will flow into our lakes, rivers and wells more easily. There is lots of misinformation out there to convince you that they do. SEPTIC SYSTEMS DO NOT PURIFY THE EFFLUENT! NO! THEY DON'T! THEY DO NOT!!!!!.
The third problem is a change in our eating habits. Family farms used to grow much of their own foods and slaughter their own meat. What we didn't get from our own farm we could purchase from the local market. I emphasis local because it meant that any contagion was kept local. Now we don't have many local farms and those that we do have are not, for the most part, producing market produce. For that we go to the super market and pick over the already well mauled and sneezed on vegetables to find a choice item. Even the cans have their own surface contaminations. If we're sharp, when we get them home we wash all the vegetables before we put them away. Of course we do this in the kitchen sink which is why the kitchen sink is now considered to be the dirtiest place in the average home. Yes, much dirtier than the toilet. And where does the the sink water go? ...Of course. So we modern rurals import the most dangerous pathogens from around the world, into our homes and then dump them in our wells (via the septic system) where we store them until we need a drink of water. We humans have always considered ourselves to be much more intelligent than the average dog. Well, our dog drinks from the toilet, not such a dumb animal after all. The tilefield becomes a source for creatures to pick up and transmit pathogens including bird flu and other super bugs thus helping the spread of a health pandemic.
So what do we do?
With many problems we choose to eliminate the source, and this is surely the most effective way to stop pollution. Unfortunately this method lacks political will, I think mainly due to fear of constituent reaction. It is the best solution but speaking for myself "I don't want to be eliminated, just yet"
Another, perhaps more palatable, solution could be to stop putting effluent into the ground. And this is the solution I am proposing. By processing the waste, which can be done more economically than the installation of a septic system, we can get a high grade potable odourless fertilizer which can be used as a top dressing on our gardens. Because of it's freedom from pathogens it can also be used in public places and can be commercially exchanged.
Before you get the idea that I'm just one of those bleeding heart environmental cry babies, I want to share one of my biggest secrets with you. Please get real close to the screen because I don't want anyone else to know. I live on 8 acres, and sometimes when I'm out in the bush I actually pee on the ground. Now please don't tell anyone.
Stuey gets dragged into court. See updated info at the bottom of this page. It get's tricky.
Pollution due to private septic systems takes on a whole new significance under climatic change conditions. The diseases that can be transmitted by bugs and worms to the birds and then flown around are much more dangerous than ever before. Thus the private system becomes a public monumental health pandemic builder.