By James Matthews
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Dysart staff have already kicked this year’s septic maintenance inspection program into high gear.
Brianna Quinn, the township’s sewage system maintenance program supervisor, told township council June 27 that staff this year offered a limited number of early inspection appointments. Property owners could complete their inspections ahead of schedule at a discounted rate of 50 per cent off the normal fee.
Those early appointments were used as training opportunities for new staff to have in-field experience in preparation for the busy months ahead.
“Things got busy really quickly,” she said.
More than 170 septic system inspections were completed over about 16 days in May. That took inspectors to properties across 13 lakes.
Inspectors intended to complete inspections on Head Lake, Grass Lake, and Kashagawigamog Lake. But there are some things that are said about the best laid plans and misfortune wrought by an individual named Murphy.
Quinn said staff had to be flexible with property owners who had varied vacation schedules and other concerns.
“We were able to move some things around for some people,” she said. “Our inspectors have covered some ground in the last few weeks.”
June’s schedule has been busier.
“So far, we’re seeing fairly typical results,” Quinn said. “Nothing is too out of the ordinary.”
She said 41 properties have been deem to be high risk because of use permits not being followed. Things like there being too many bedrooms for the system, she said.
Quinn said 58 properties were classed as medium risk and in need to pump-outs, replaced lids and baffles.
Low risk properties were those that had no compliance issues noted during the inspection. There were 56 low risk septic systems.
Mayor Murray Fearrey was pleased with the report, the diligence of staff, and the inspection results. On Barnum Lake, for example, he said there are about 15 properties. And, according to the staff report to council, just eight properties had some risk. Only three were deemed high risk.
“I think it’s a good report,” Fearrey said. “It’s good for people on the lakes to see that. It’s a wake-up call.”
Councillor Nancy Wood-Roberts said she heard from a property owner who told her a building permit was required for them to decommission a bedroom.
“There’s no sort of fee for decommissioning those spaces that they’re using for bedrooms, right?” she said.
Quinn said there is such a requirement.
“When there’s an issue with too many bedrooms, we give them two options,” she said. “They can choose to decommission and that’s done through a septic review.”
The property owner will pay $150 for the review.
“Basically, that is allowing us to complete the entire paper trail,” Quinn said. “We are bringing them back in compliance with their use permit. And it does involve a secondary site visit.”
Bedrooms can be decommissioned by being turned into a home office or a den, she said.
Karl Korpela, the township’s chief building inspector, said there’s been instances when inspectors have found finished basements outfitted with bedrooms in houses in which the basements are supposed to be unfinished. In those instances, the homeowner is required to get a permit, even though the work has already been completed.