Installing a New Septic System
Most homes in rural Prince Edward Island have an on-site sewage disposal system for dealing with wastewater. Typically, the system consists of a pre-cast concrete septic tank buried in the ground and a standard (usually pipe & gravel) disposal (or tile) field.
Household wastewater from the kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry flows into the septic tank where the solids settle to the bottom. The liquid flows out of the tank and into the disposal field. Here, it leaches or travels through the soil and is purified before it reaches the groundwater.
Unfortunately, not all soil types can absorb or purify wastewater. When a disposal system is installed in soil that is unsuitable, it will not work properly. Raw, untreated sewage can then show up on the surface or in a roadside ditch. It can also seep into the ground and contaminate drinking water. Raw sewage contains deadly bacteria and viruses.
It is expensive to fix the problems that result from installing a sewage disposal system in unsuitable soils. So, it pays to investigate in advance!
A Home Builder's ChecklistBefore buying a building lot for a new home, it's important to 'do your homework'. If a central sewer system is not available, you will need an on-site sewage disposal system.
Using the following checklist can help:
- Determine the type(s) of soil on the lot.
- Find out what type of sewage disposal system, if any, will work in these soils.
- Contact the Department of Environment, Labour and Justice to confirm that a Building Permit and a Sewage Disposal Permit can be obtained for the lot.
- Get a cost estimate for installing the type of disposal system that will be required.
Before you begin construction of a house, or the installation of a sewage disposal system, a Sewage Disposal Permit is required. Before a permit may be approved, a site suitability assessment must be completed on the property.
If you're looking at several potential building lots, you may want to have an assessment done on each one before making a final purchase decision. Examining the lots yourself can help you to eliminate ones that have obvious problems.
Reviewing the Lot: What to Look forWalk over each lot and look for potential soil or site problems. These can affect the performance of an on-site sewage disposal system. For example:
- Are there gullies, very steep slopes, or similar problems that would make it difficult to install a sewage disposal system?
- Are there any indications that the lot could sometimes be flooded by surface water runoff?
- Is the lot next to a stream or river that could flood?
- Does the lot seem wet and swampy? Does the lot contain any wetlands? If so, has the extent of the wetland been mapped?
- Are parts of the lot rocky? (A shallow depth to bedrock will interfere with the installation and operation of an on-site sewage disposal system.)
- Is there enough space on the building lot for the proposed home, the sewage disposal system, and the water supply well?
A Sewage Disposal Permit from the Department of Environment, Labour and Justice is required before installing a new septic system. A septic system must be installed by a licensed contractor, and in accordance with the Sewage Disposal Systems Regulations. The regulations can be used to 'size' a septic system for a particular facility and to describe the minimum construction standards. They also identify the license requirements for the septic contractors, installers, and septage (partially treated sewage waste) and sludge haulers.
For further information about on-site sewage disposal systems, contact the Department of Environment, Labour and Justice, Inspection Services, at (902) 368-5280 or contact one of the Access PEI centres.