Septic System Health

Updated March 2024

In our region of Haliburton, and since all of our properties are near shorelines, it is particularly important to maintain our septic systems properly because our soil and bedrock conditions are not always optimum for treating wastewater. Incomplete treatment due to a poorly functioning septic system can result in health risks and water quality problems that affect our water, your property value as well as fish and wildlife. Inadequate septic system wastewater treatment, as would be caused by leaking septage, can allow excess nutrients to reach our lakes, degrading our water quality in our lakes and promoting algae blooms or weed growth.

Algal blooms and abundant weeds not only make the lake unpleasant for swimming and boating, but they also affect drinking water quality and water quality for fish and wildlife habitat. The most serious concern related to failing septic systems is human health risks. Hepatitis, dysentery, and other diseases are spread by bacteria, viruses and parasites in wastewater. These disease-causing organisms, called pathogens, could make near-shore water unsafe for recreation.

Maintaining the Effectiveness of Your Septic System

The quality of the water in the Kennisis Lakes is generally good but remains a concern to many property owners as development on our lakes increases. We hear/read media reports stating that we should be concerned about the quality of water in our lakes. Often individual property owners are left wondering what they can do to help improve, or at least maintain, the quality of our lake water going forward. The two most important steps property owners can take are ensuring their shoreline is as natural as possible and that their septic system is operating as effectively as possible. The Love Your Lake packages (2016) mailed to every property owner provide specific recommendations regarding the shoreline based on the assessment completed for each and every property on our lakes.

Even if we are very careful about what goes into our toilets and down our drains (SEPTIC SYSTEM TIP SHEET) most of us don’t really know precisely how effectively our septic is operating. There are a variety of possible issues that only an expert can uncover. Just as modern science has taught us that a grass lawn near the lake shore is harmful to water quality, we now know that a failing septic system can do very serious damage to our lake. 

Issues are not limited to older septic systems. Due to shifting soil around new building construction and other issues, a variety of problems can occur in relatively new septic systems. Even relatively minor and simple failures can significantly reduce the performance of the system. Early identification can help our lakes and minimize the cost of needed repairs. The only way to know for certain if your septic system is operating effectively is by having a comprehensive inspection – much more than looking inside the tank – performed by a provincially licensed inspector. The inspector should be onsite to witness the pump out and provide a written report that will help you operate and maintain the system going forward. 

The municipality of Dysart et al has implemented a mandatory septic re-inspection program for all waterfront properties. 

Most importantly by completing a voluntary inspection you can join the group of property owners who are confident their septic systems are not doing unnecessary harm to the waters of the Kennisis Lakes.

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Related Content:

For a wealth of other information about septic systems please check out the following links:

Septic System Tips

Septic System Education

Septic Inspections