Septic Systems

On-Site Sewage Treatment (Septics)

Septic systems are regulated under the Ontario Building Code and a properly designed and functioning septic system is a safe and sound method to dispose of wastewater. Unfortunately a defective system can produce a risk of contaminating the lake with coliform bacteria and nutrients detrimental to good water quality. 

OLLA has distributed literature on septic systems in the past which stress the importance of good design and maintenance of our septic systems. In 2007 a voluntary Otter Lake inspection program was conducted by the municipality and it was found that 56% of the systems inspected failed on at least one aspect of the system.  Of the total, 5% were declared inoperable.  In 2018 the municipality began a mandatory re-inspection program. Many of the residences around Otter Lake were inspected during the spring and summer of 2021.  A link to the 2021 Report is at the end of this page.  Otter Lake did not do well although the majority of the issues were a requirement for a pump-out and missing or damaged filters.

Enhanced systems, or tertiary treatment systems, have become a good option for many. These systems treat the effluent more efficiently before discharge to the environment. It is much reduced in nutrients and bacteria, thereby reducing the impact on the soil and vegetation between the system and the lake.  These systems are well suited for problem sites that may have thin soils and limited natural capacity to treat the effluent discharged from the dwelling.

There are many accredited septic installers in the area that would be able to advise on a good design for a new system. Also the Septic Office associated with Rideau Valley Conservation Authority is a good resource for more information.

For an in-depth waterfront guide to septic systems, click on this FOCA link with further links to the Ontario On-Site Wastewater Association. 

Septic Systems – OVERVIEW | FOCA 

Rideau Lakes Septic Re-Inspection Report 2021