Decision Date: June 2, 2004
Panel: Alan Andison
Keywords: Health Act – s. 25; Sewage Disposal Regulation – s. 3(3)(a), 7(1)(b); Schedule 3, s. 14(e); sewage disposal system; innovative system; setback from high water mark
The Appellants appealed the decision of the Environmental Health Officer (“EHO”) to issue a sewage disposal system permit to serve a house on a lot in Bowser, BC (the “Property”). The system was an innovative system that included a septic tank, package treatment plant, a Vegetative Tertiary Filter (VTF), and a holding tank. The Appellants sought an order rescinding the decision of the EHO.
The Appellants’ specific grounds of appeal were that the VTF component of the system was potentially unsafe and was unsightly and out of character with the neighbourhood; that the system might create odours; that a power outage would disable the pump-driven system; and, that the system presented a risk of seepage into a nearby stream.
The Board found that the Appellants provided no evidence to suggest that the VTF – a closed, peat-filled structure that supports aquatic plants – created a safety risk. The Board found that the issue of the VTF’s aesthetics was beyond the Board’s jurisdiction. The Board also found, based on the evidence of the EHO and of the engineering firm that designed the system, that it was a closed system incorporating a package treatment plant and would not emit odours. The Board accepted the engineer’s evidence that the system’s overall capacity is equivalent to 10 days worth of sewage from the household and that the system has an 1100-gallon holding tank with a battery-operated alarm to provide protection in the event of a power outage. The Board found that a by-pass pipe from the pumping chamber to the holding tank would help protect against seepage in the event of a power failure, and, therefore, the Board directed the EHO to add to the permit a condition requiring such a by-pass.
The Board found that the nearest body of water was not a stream, but rather a ditch that was culverted through the Property and open beyond the Property boundaries. Therefore, the requirement in Schedule 3 of the Sewage Disposal Regulation for a 100-foot setback between a package treatment plant and a non-tidal water body did not apply. Furthermore, the Board noted that Schedule 3 does not apply to innovative systems such as the system in this case. The Board concluded that the sewage disposal system would protect public health. The Board upheld the permit, subject to the amendment ordered by the Board
The appeal was dismissed.