Primum non nocere . . . “First do no harm.”
It is indeed a pity that committees of council have no form of Hippocratic oath to adhere to. Rather, they are free to focus with tunnel vision on one particular dogma without need to consider the law of unintended consequences.
What we’re talking about here is Central Frontenac Council’s planned assault on what it perceives to be a sky-is-falling situation whereby all of our lakes are going to descend into a quagmire of degradation if we don’t make sure that every last septic system in the Township is in tip top working order.
The idea that mandatory inspection of all the 4,000 or so septic systems in the municipality will all end up rainbows and unicorns is utter hogwash.
The committee estimates that 3 to 4 per cent of existing systems will need serious overhauls and/or replacement. Let’s go out on a limb here and guestimate that the majority of these 80-100 systems belong to residents that can least afford the $10,000-$20,000 repair bill. A $20,000 bill to a family struggling with heat-or-eat or to fixed income seniors means essentially one thing — people are going to lose their homes because of this.
Isn’t it ironic that this draconian plan comes on the heals of a presentation by community service agencies pointing out that requests for their services are growing, particularly in the area of rural homelessness. It’s also interesting to note Frontenac County is intent on finding ways of allowing seniors to stay in their homes for as long as possible, and hitting them up for expensive septic repair bills could have the opposite effect.
Another questionable aspect to all this is that the Township plans to licence existing pumper/hauler operations to conduct inspections and issue a report after said inspection. Well, there are a dearth of folks who are comfortable with the business end of a honey hose to begin with and the questions have to be asked: how many of them are going to buy a licecse (thus increasing their cost of doing business) and how many are going to want to join the Township’s poo police department?
The cost of a licence thing is sure to lead to increased cost for a pump-out (now there’s an incentive to clean out the old tank isn’t it?) and if the number of pumper-haulers available goes down, so much for competition keeping costs lower.
And did they even mention the issue of getting to septic systems on island properties?
Rumours of septic systems failing on islands tend to resurface on a regular basis. The only thing is, when reporters ask specific questions about such things, there is never any proof, it’s always rumours.
Maybe there is a major problem but is it on a level with say, flotillas of boats spewing gasoline exhaust into a lake?
There’s a lot more to lake management than phosphorus but somehow this issue just causes people to lose their minds — even to the point where they’re willing to trade one perceived problem for a host of others.