Enforcement on the Horizon

After years of advocating better enforcement for the onsite wastewater industry, movement in that direction is finally taking shape.

This spring, an Alberta homeowner was fined for “failing to remedy the contraventions of the Private Sewage Standard of Practice”. In basic terms, the homeowner had initially applied for a permit to install an open discharge system on his property, however the property was not large enough to meet the required horizontal setbacks under the Standard of Practice. Although the permit was denied, the homeowner carried out the installation of the open discharge system.

The homeowner was then issued an Order by the Safety Codes Officer, acting on behalf of the County. The homeowner still did not bring his system into compliance, therefore the County sued the homeowner.

The result of the legal action was that the homeowner was directed to immediately remove the pump and stop using the open discharge. The homeowner was directed to have the tank pumped regularly and the septage hauled to a receiving facility until such time as the proper permits were obtained and an appropriate onsite wastewater system installed that meets the current Standard of Practice. The homeowner was given two months following the Consent Order from the court to complete this process. The homeowner was also directed to pay the County $2,000.00 to cover the County’s legal costs.

Changes to the Safety Codes Act, adopted in 2016, allow for administrative penalties for infractions related to the Alberta Private Sewage Systems Regulation and the Alberta Permit Regulation among others. Penalties can be assessed for unpermitted systems and non-compliant systems.