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Lack of Access to Receiving Facilities a Country-Wide Issue

For several months now, WCOWMA has been hearing concerns from pumpers about lack of access to receiving facilities. The latest issues have arisen in the Fraser Valley in British Columbia where pumpers in the Chilliwack area are limited in where they can haul wastewater from areas outside city limits. Receiving facilities are over capacity and while in the past many have accepted wastewater from unserviced areas at a higher fee, now they are strictly limiting not just the volume of wastewater they can receive in a day, but also where it is coming from. This issue made news in the Vancouver Sun last October: Fraser Valley cities won’t accept sewage from outside city limits | Vancouver Sun. The problems identified in this article have not been resolved as yet.
The Portable Sanitation Association International has reached out to WCOWMA recently to invite participation in a conference they are holding in Toronto in November at which lack of access to receiving facilities will be a key discussion point. Apparently, this is becoming an issue in many jurisdictions in North America.
This is not a new problem. As far back as 2004, the AOWMA participated in a committee organized by Alberta Environment which researched issues in the pumping industry within the Province. This included assessing where receiving facilities were located, their capacity, and access for the pumping community. The  Septage Management Advisory Committee (SMAC) published in its report at that time that “Septage haulers have difficult access (restrictions, distance, cost) to wastewater treatment facilities, leading to land disposal of untreated septage.”
The SMAC report was followed up in 2008 with a report commissioned by Alberta Environment entitled Recommended Standards and Guidelines for Construction, Operation, and Monitoring of Septage Management Facilities, which also recognized the need for additional capacity for receiving facilities in the province.
Reports from pumpers in Alberta tell us there are still access issues in many regions.
In 2013, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) commissioned a report called:  Development of a Decentralized Wastewater Management System Framework. This report states that: “This is a big issue…finding places that will accept septage.”
Here we are in 2024 and the issue not only has not substantially improved but is getting worse. While municipalities are being pushed to increase housing construction, the needed infrastructure to support that construction is not necessarily available. There seems to be a lack of understanding that even though a residence is served by a septic system and therefore will not be connected to a city or municipal system, at some point that septic system will require pumping and the pumper is going to need access to a receiving facility to discharge the wastewater.
Just a week ago, on June 20, 2024, the CBC published an article on lack of access in the Halifax area:  Property owners learning rules around septic tanks the hard way as landfill halts access | CBC News. Apparently Halifax Water and Halifax Regional Municipality have offered a short term solution by making available a receiving site for the next three weeks, however this is just a bandaid. What happens when the three weeks are up?
Septic systems are an important part of wastewater infrastructure. The cost of centralized sewers for every region in the country is not viable. By treating and dispersing wastewater ‘on-site’, septic systems return the water portion of the wastewater to ground and surface water sources to be reused. This is positive for the environment. What isn’t positive is having the solids and fats illegally dumped  if homeowners and pumpers have nowhere to dispose of it. The waste has to go somewhere; hopefully the impacted municipalities will recognize that providing access to receiving facilities is not only necessary, it is a fundamental responsibility.

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