The Province of British Columbia is providing $50,000 in funding to the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC (ASTTBC) to ensure consistent licensing standards and qualifications for workers installing septic sewage systems.

The ASTTBC certifies all registered onsite wastewater practitioners in the province to assume responsibility for installed systems. Wastewater systems that are designed or installed by an unauthorized practitioner are illegal and are subject to severe penalties.

Health Minister Terry Lake acknowledged the importance of proper installation of wastewater systems and the role that the additional funding would play in supporting that. “Onsite wastewater accounts for a large portion of sewage disposal in British Columbia. Whether located in municipal subdivisions with many systems in a fairly small area, or one system for many kilometres in rural regions, they need to be properly designed, installed and maintained to assure our health and safety,” he said.

Currently, the ASTTBC is federally obligated to certify applicants who have been trained and licensed in other jurisdictions. This becomes difficult as the qualifications and competencies of these practitioners may differ from those trained in BC. With the funding, ASTTBC will develop a standard set of competencies in collaboration with other provincial licensing agencies, with an aim to create a national licensing standard that will apply to all Canadian jurisdictions.

“This support from the Ministry of Health will lead to minimum common standards for onsite wastewater practitioners across Canada. Harmonization of standards will lead to enhanced mobility of practitioners,” said ASTTBC chief executive officer John Leech. “In the long haul, this initiative will provide greater assurance of public health and safety.”

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– Katie Yantzi

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