Craig Bakay | Jun 12, 2019
About 50 people showed up for the North Frontenac Septic Savvy Seminar Saturday at Clar-Mill Hall in Plevna and while organizers maintained the meeting wasn’t about mandatory septic inspections, much of the panel discussion and subsequent Q & A session featured a lot of discussion about it.
“This was not about inspection per se, it’s about starting to have an informed conversation,” said Bruce Moore, chair of the North Frontenac Lake Association Alliance and one of the organizers.
Following presentations on results of the Township’s septic survey, understanding septic systems, septic systems and lake health and understanding septic system reinspections, a panel discussion featuring North Frontenac Mayor Ron Higgins, Gord Mitchell of KFL&A Public Health, Eric Kohlsmith, an inspector with the Mississippi Rideau Septic System Office and Terry Kennedy of the Kennebec Lake Association ensued.
“I’m as concerned as much as anybody else about the health of our water,” said Higgins. “(But) I address is by saying ‘Is there a problem?’
“There’s not one lake I know of in North Frontenac that’s polluted.
“By establishing set-backs in our zoning bylaw, we are taking action pro-actively.”
“There are many sources of e. coli,” said Mitchell. “It doesn’t necessarily have to come from a failed septic system.
“You could have great bathing water but put a flock of geese on there and after a week, it’s not so good.”
Mitchell said his office couldn’t possibly handle mandatory inspections given that they represent nine municipalities.
“There’s a tremendous need for resources that don’t seem to be there,” he said. “I’m not of huge fan (of mandatory inspections) as there are better ways to spend money.
“But they can expose problems.”
Mitchell also said that the older the system (in the 25-30 year old range), the more likely it is to have problems.
“But just because a system is older, doesn’t mean it’s failing,” he said.
The panel also addressed other septic issues such as the perception that some current brands of toilet paper contain plastics and what shouldn’t be flushed into a septic system (such as tampons).
“I haven’t heard of plastics in toilet paper but some people collect it and burn it,” Kohlsmith said. “Moderation is the key.”
“If you didn’t eat it or drink it,” don’t flush it,” said Mitchell.
Higgins said any new regulations will likely have to come from municipalities and that there aren’t a lot of funds available for such things.
“The Province is making cuts without any plans,” he said. “When I put that question to the minister, he said ‘the plans have to come from you — you’re the ones who know your area.’”