Manitoba has announced new rules for sewage disposal, including a ban on new sewage ejectors and a ban on septic fields in sensitive areas.

“Manitobans recognize it is time to move beyond outdated and unsustainable ways of dealing with sewage in favour of more responsible methods,” Conservation Minister Stan Struthers said earlier this week.

Effective immediately, the new regulations will:

  • Prohibit the use of a disposal field for new systems in sensitive areas, Crown land cottage developments, provincial parks and portions of the Red River corridor;
  • Prohibit the installation of new sewage ejectors and eliminate existing sewage ejectors at the time of any property transfer;
  • Require a two-acre minimum lot size for the installation of disposal fields;
  • Require hookup to municipal collection systems in serviced areas; and
  • Require municipal waste-water management planning.

The new measures are in addition to the ongoing work of the Enhanced Inspection Program (EIP), which commenced enhanced inspections in September 2008.  Under the EIP, Manitoba Conservation has carried out 709 inspections of waste-water systems in targeted areas of the Red River Valley and cottage country to ensure compliance with provincial regulations.

Doug Dobrowolski, AMM president.
Doug Dobrowolski, AMM president.

The regulations, however, were met with criticism from the Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM). Yesterday, the association issued a press release expressing its disappointment in the Province’s “heavy-handed decision” to move forward with “aggressive amendments” to the Onsite Wastewater Management Systems Regulation, citing the ban on sewage ejectors in particular.

“Many municipalities had concerns with the proposed amendments right from the start. We have absolutely no problem with supporting the amendments in environmentally sensitive areas, but to apply these rules to the entire province is excessive,” said Doug Dobrowolski, AMM president.

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“The message our members delivered throughout these consultations was loud and clear,” according to Dobrowolski. “There is no scientific evidence to support these changes throughout the entire province. To implement new rules that will cost our ratepayers a great deal of money—with no apparent environmental benefit—is unnecessary and unfair.”

The AMM says that the issue has also resulted in several municipalities drafting a resolution asking for the Province to apply the new regulation on a “case by case basis where there are scientifically justified environmental concerns and identified high risk areas.” AMM members will vote on the resolution at the AMM Annual Convention in November.

6 COMMENTS

  1. “Septic” ejectors are not “Raw Sewage” ejectors.

    An ejector discharges biologically treated liquid only, no solids. As anyone who is familiar with these systems knows, solids would quickly plug the whole ejector system. The ubiquitous septic tank is actually an efficient biologically driven treatment system, and is the first step in the process. Septic tank owners sometimes even supplement the biological breakdown of nutrients in their tanks by adding appropriate bacteria, just like adding yeast to bread. Biology doesn’t work without the bugs!
    The fluid pumped to the ejector is drawn only from a relatively shallow middle layer of the septic tank where only liquid is present.
    Septic tank solids, the more noisome component of household effluent, are generally removed annually by truck and treated separately.

    Once ejected, the pre-treated liquid infiltrates the surface of the surrounding soil, even in winter, generally in an area not more than 5 feet from the ejector. That small circle exhibits lush vegetation, usually including lots of weeds, evidence that the nutrients in the ejected gray water are being put to good use.
    The vast majority of ejectors present no pollution problem, or even potential for problems. They are, in fact, one of the greenest methods of treating household waste possible. Few city folk who visit their country neighbors will ever have any inkling that there is even an ejector around.

    In contrast, the City of Winnipeg dumps raw sewage directly into the Red River whenever high rainfall levels overwhelm the common sewage and rainfall treatment system. Billions of liters worth annually.
    70% of Manitobans live within commuting, and pooping, distance of the City of Winnipeg. But Winnipeg’s poo don’t stink?
    And water pollution isn’t a priority of you’re an urban resident, especially if it’s only downstream that suffers?
    And the dirty majority gets to cause problems for the clean minority because the politicians don’t understand the science?
    How many of those who voted for this legislation have actually seen a real live sewage ejector? I bet the answer is none. Zero.

    All this said, there are areas where ejectors are not appropriate, where soils, or rocks, are not sufficiently porous to allow infiltration. But to ban them outright is beyond stupid. It’s truly ignorant.

  2. “Septic” ejectors are not “Raw Sewage” ejectors.

    An ejector discharges biologically treated liquid only, no solids. As anyone who is familiar with these systems knows, solids would quickly plug the whole ejector system. The ubiquitous septic tank is actually an efficient biologically driven treatment system, and is the first step in the process. Septic tank owners sometimes even supplement the biological breakdown of nutrients in their tanks by adding appropriate bacteria, just like adding yeast to bread. Biology doesn’t work without the bugs!
    The fluid pumped to the ejector is drawn only from a relatively shallow middle layer of the septic tank where only liquid is present.
    Septic tank solids, the more noisome component of household effluent, are generally removed annually by truck and treated separately.

    Once ejected, the pre-treated liquid infiltrates the surface of the surrounding soil, even in winter, generally in an area not more than 5 feet from the ejector. That small circle exhibits lush vegetation, usually including lots of weeds, evidence that the nutrients in the ejected gray water are being put to good use.
    The vast majority of ejectors present no pollution problem, or even potential for problems. They are, in fact, one of the greenest methods of treating household waste possible. Few city folk who visit their country neighbors will ever have any inkling that there is even an ejector around.

    In contrast, the City of Winnipeg dumps raw sewage directly into the Red River whenever high rainfall levels overwhelm the common sewage and rainfall treatment system. Billions of liters worth annually.
    70% of Manitobans live within commuting, and pooping, distance of the City of Winnipeg. But Winnipeg’s poo don’t stink?
    And water pollution isn’t a priority of you’re an urban resident, especially if it’s only downstream that suffers?
    And the dirty majority gets to cause problems for the clean minority because the politicians don’t understand the science?
    How many of those who voted for this legislation have actually seen a real live sewage ejector? I bet the answer is none. Zero.

    All this said, there are areas where ejectors are not appropriate, where soils, or rocks, are not sufficiently porous to allow infiltration. But to ban them outright is beyond stupid. It’s truly ignorant.

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