Stuck with a Septic tank in Ontario!

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: Humanure Handbook - A Guide to Composting Human Manure: Stuck with a Septic tank in Ontario!
Author: Jeff Marchand (Jeffm)
Monday, June 25, 2007 - 10:46 am
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Dig the hole myself? You mean with a shovel?
The leach bed is approximately 50'x10' by 3 deep. Thats 167 cubic yards of silty soil that has to be replaced with sand. And then I have to landscape the soil that I dig out.

I did ask my health unit what my options were and they told me I had to have a septic and they would not approve a constructed wetland system as it was not in building code.

Since I posted last week I have tracked down a local designer who has succeeded in getting constructed wetlands approved by local health unit, contrary to what HU was telling me. Ive not actually spoken to him yet though.

Ill let you know what I find out from him.

Author: John Smith (John)
Thursday, June 21, 2007 - 2:23 pm
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You can dig a hole, can't you?

You can then hire somebody to actually install the system, once the subsurface is prepared an approved.

A little information goes a long way, Jeff; especially when you propose to send your greywater to "a couple of wetlands 200 yards downhill" from your house, provoking my curt response.

BTW, wetlands aren't for excavating. It's hard to imagine that you got an environmental authority to approve that dig.

Have you asked your code inspector what your options are; if there are any alternative solutions, innovative technologies, variances?
The answer to your questions are right at your fingertips.

Although, when you approach the situation as "cracking a nut", you're bound to lose. You need to be more like water, than a nutcracker. Ebb and flow, Jeff. Ebb and flow.

Most sincerely,
John

Author: Jeff Marchand (Jeffm)
Thursday, June 21, 2007 - 10:34 am
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John I am sorry you are so easily irritated.

I am trying to find a way to treat my grey water in an environmentally friendly way in the least expensive way possible. I will not appologize for not looking for most expensive way. One of the themes of the Humanure book is that treating human excrements does not have to be expensive. What could be simpler or cheaper than a sawdust toilet?

In Chapter 9, Mr. Jenkins describes how he sent his grey water to a clay lined pond. Thats exactly what I want to do. I should have mentioned that one of the ponds on my land I had excavated and is naturally clay lined.

The Ontario Building Code only permits grey water pits not constructed wetlands. I was hoping to get constructive advice from someone who has cracked this nut. Thanks for your comments anyways.

The reason cost is so high for septic system is because the soil around my house site is silty and has too low of a dispersal rate. I have to truck sand in from 50 kilometers away. Trucking costs a lot of money.

In Ontario septic systems must be installed by qualified installers, so how would I do the work myself?

Author: John Smith (John)
Thursday, June 21, 2007 - 8:52 am
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Jeff,

Your local health unit was right in their decision not to allow use of natural wetland ponds for your greywater disposal. Your contributions to the pond would disrupt the natural processes and alter the sensitive ecosystem you live nearby. Chapter 9 discusses "constructed wetlands", which are specifically designed for your purposes and different than naturally occurring wetlands.

Greywater systems can be tricky in northern climates, as you recently became aware of. For transpiration to occur, the water needs to be near the surface, yet because of freezing issues, can't often be located close enough to properly work.

Your questions irritate me because it seems that you're looking for the cheapest way out, regardless of environmental impact.

If you're looking to save money; do the labor yourself. You're costs shouldn't reach anywhere near $10,000, unless you need to install an innovative greywater design because of the ecological sensitivity of your home location.

John

Author: Jeff Marchand (Jeffm)
Wednesday, June 20, 2007 - 12:47 pm
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Hi everyone I am building a new log home in Eastern Ontario and am planning on using a humanure toilet.

The good news is that in Ontario humanure toilets are perfectly legal and I dont need to apply for a permit for one.

The bad news is the grey water. I own 50+ acres with already a couple of wetlands 200 yards downhill from my house site. I had hoped to just drain my grey water into the pre-existing ponds.

The local health unit will not even consider this. Plan B was to install just a leaching bed without the septic tank. Again no. They insist that I have a septic tank where the solids can percipitate to the bottom and not clog the leach bed.

They also said that because the leach bed will be above the frost line (cant have more than 2 feet of material above tiles and frost line is 3 feet or so) that I risk the leach bed freezing if only grey water goes into septic system. They say that the heat generated by the decay fo sewage heats the water enough so that water wont freeze in the tiles. No sewage, no heat, frozen tiles. Does anyone have thoughts on that?

A grey water draining pit is permitted in building code but only for small structures (less than 1000 liters of flow per day) and my house will have on the books more than that.

Has anyone had more luck than me in Ontario? I really want to discharge my grey water into the ponds as described in Chapter 9. It seems a phenominal waste to spend $10K-15k on a full septic sytem just to treat my grey water.

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