Photo of Septic Tank

Onsite Septic Systems

A septic system accepts all the wastewater from the home (toilets, sinks, showers, washing machine, dishwasher, etc.), treats the wastewater to a safe level and returns the treated effluent to the groundwater.  The most common type of septic system is the septic tank and leaching bed. Other types of onsite systems include holding tanks, greywater systems, privies, cesspools (e.g. for the overflow from composting toilets), and more high tech options such as tertiary treatment systems (e.g. biofilters).  In Algonquin Highlands, all septic waste is handled by individual, onsite septic systems.  A municipal sewage system is not feasible due to the low housing density and large geographic area.  If you have running water at your home or cottage, you are required to have an approved onsite septic system.  It is your responsibility to ensure that your system is in good repair and working properly.

Septic Permits

In accordance with the Ontario Building Code, a permit is required to install a new septic system or to alter an existing one. Septic permits are obtained from the Building Department. Your septic designer/installer will usually apply for and obtain a permit on your behalf. Be sure to keep a copy of your permit on file, so that you can refer back to the location diagram in the future.

Septic System Maintenance

Septic systeOver time, sludge will build up in the bottom of your septic tank. If the sludge is allowed to accumulate, it will eventually flow into the leaching bed and clog the distribution pipes. A septic tank should generally be pumped out every 3 to 5 years, or when one third of the tank volume is filled with are a good way to treat waste, as long as they are functioning properly. Faulty or poorly designed septic systems can be harmful to the natural environment and threaten public health by polluting lakes or contaminating drinking water supplies. Septic system maintenance doesn’t require a lot of skill or work, but it does require a basic understanding of how the system works and what you need to do to keep it functioning at peak performance. If you notice a problem with your system, it is important that you act immediately.  Check out our Septic System Dos & Don'ts brochure, and the comprehensive SepticSmart booklet for some great tips on how to keep your septic system in top top shape.  For those with Advanced Treatment systems, the SepticSmart booklet -Advanced Treatment Systems has lots of info. The Ontario Onsite Wastewater Association also has lots of good information on their website about septic systems and septic system maintenance.

Septic Re-inspection Program

Starting In 2018, The Township of Algonquin Highlands will be implementing a Septic Re-Inspection Program for its residents. WSP Canada Inc.(WSP), as a third party consultant, is administrating the Septic Re-Inspection Program on behalf of the Township of Algonquin Highlands (the Township).  Complete details of the program are available HERE.

What happens to the waste that is pumped from my septic tank?

The technical term for the waste that is pumped from your septic tank is septage or hauled sewage. Septage is partially treated sewage that includes both the solids and liquids. In Algonquin Highlands, septic haulers have two methods for disposing of septage: private disposal (e.g. land application or treatment facility on privately owned land) or dumping into the Township’s McClintock Septage Lagoon

Contact Information

For more information on onsite septic systems or obtaining a septic system permit, contact a Septic Designer/Installer or the Building Department.  Septic Permit application forms and information on the various fees can be found on the Building Permits page

Greg Moore
Chief Building Official/By-law Enforcement Officer
Phone: 705-489-2379 Ext. 326
E-mail:  gmoore@algonquinhighlands.caa

Office Hours
Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
(please call or e-mail ahead for an appointment - Building Officials are often away from the office)


Application for a Copy of Sewage System Permit or Installation Report
Septic Smart! Advanced Treatment Systems
Septic Smart! Understanding Your Home's Septic System
Septic System Dos & Don'ts