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Who Regulates Septic Systems in BC: An Informative Guide

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As a professional septic tank cleaning company based in Langley, BC, we are often asked about the regulatory framework for septic systems in British Columbia. Given the critical nature of these systems in maintaining environmental and public health, it is essential to understand who is responsible for their regulation. This article sheds light on the various entities overseeing BC’s septic systems.

Who Regulates Septic Systems in BC?

cleaning the septic tank

The primary authority for regulating septic systems in British Columbia lies with the Ministry of Health. 

It provides policy support for land use management, encompassing onsite sewage disposal and subdivision activities. 

The key purpose of the Ministry of Health here is to minimize, mitigate, and preclude potential risks to human health. 

This mission is carried out through legislative requirements and supporting policies and guidelines.

In addition to the Ministry of Health, several other bodies oversee and regulate septic systems in BC. These include:

  1. Applied Science Technologists & Technicians of BC (ASTTBC): This organization trains and certifies individuals installing and maintaining wastewater systems. Under the Sewerage System Regulation, authorized persons, including homeowners under authorized persons’ supervision, can construct and maintain Type 1 or Type 2 onsite sewage systems. However, they must meet the training and certification requirements ASTTBC sets before installing and maintaining septic systems.
  2. Regional Health Authority: This entity is crucial in ensuring septic systems are designed following the regulations, including strict performance standards. Authorized persons must file applications with the regional health authority for constructing or altering a system.
  3. Municipal Authorities: All applications related to onsite sewage systems must adhere to several key guidelines, including those outlined in the Subdivision Regulations under the Local Services Act, the provisions of the Public Health Act’s Transitional Regulation, and any relevant bylaws established by municipal or regional districts.[1]
  4. Ministry of Environment: For larger wastewater systems, oversight is provided by the Ministry of Environment, which enforces the Municipal Wastewater Regulation under the Environmental Management Act.

Each of these organizations is vital in overseeing septic systems in BC, guaranteeing they don’t threaten human health or the environment.

In the following sections of this article, more information will be given regarding the responsibilities and regulatory steps enforced by these entities. Please understand how BC ensures safe and efficient septic system operation.

Also read: What Is The Minimum Lot Size For A Septic System In BC?

More On The Sewerage System Regulation

The Sewerage System Regulation took effect in 2005, replacing the earlier Sewage Disposal Regulation. 

It’s an outcome-based regulation, providing a variety of approaches to meeting regulatory requirements, thereby encouraging innovation and flexibility in septic system management. 

This regulation primarily addresses systems with sewage flows of less than 22,700 liters per day, and it applies to single-family systems or duplexes and various combinations thereof.

Essential requirements of this regulation include that all discharges must not cause or contribute to a health hazard. 

It also mandates that only authorized persons or homeowners under authorized persons’ supervision can construct and maintain Type 1 or Type 2 onsite sewage systems. 

The construction or alteration of a system must be accompanied by an application filed with the regional health authority. 

There are also strict provisions for maintaining system records and establishing system maintenance requirements.

Other Relevant Regulations

importance of septic tank maintenance

In addition to the Sewerage System Regulation, several other regulations play a role in managing septic systems. 

The Subdivision Regulations under the Local Services Act govern subdivisions, especially those that plan on using onsite septic systems. 

In such cases, the health authorities and the Ministry of Health may be involved due to the land area requirements of such systems.

Moreover, the Transitional Regulation and Organic Matter Recycling Regulation also manage onsite sewage systems. 

The former mandates a minimum distance between wells and possible contamination sources, including septic systems, while the latter sets rules for composting facilities’ construction and operation.

Additionally, there are regulations governing the management of grey water, which typically include guidelines on its safe disposal and reuse.

Wrapping Up

To summarize, the collaborative regulation of septic systems in BC involves the Ministry of Health, ASTTBC, Regional Health Authorities, local governments, and the Ministry of Environment. 

These entities work together to protect the public’s and the environment’s health, ensuring that septic systems are installed, maintained, and operated safely and responsibly.

As a professional septic tank cleaning company serving the Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland, we are here to help. We offer expert septic tank cleaning services in compliance with all regulations set forth by the BC health and environmental authorities.

Please contact us with any questions or if you need your septic system cleaned. We are committed to providing excellent service while preserving your household’s and our environment’s health and safety. Call us today!

Check our service areas for septic cleaning:

Septic Tank Cleaning Surrey
Septic Tank Cleaning Chilliwack
Septic Tank Cleaning Abbotsford
Septic Tank Cleaning Maple Ridge



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