• William Earl v. Environmental Health Officer

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    Decision Date: November 12, 1997

    Panel: Toby Vigod

    Keywords: Sewage Disposal Regulation – s. 6, s.7 (1), Schedule 2 – s.18, Schedule 3 – s.14(b), s.16; raised sand mound field; BC “Sand Mound Guidelines”; gleyed soils; measuring distance to property boundary; Washington State sand mound guidelines; groundwater mounding; biomat.

    Mr. Earl appealed the decision of the Environmental Health Officer (“EHO”) refusing to issue a permit to construct and install an on-site sewage disposal system consisting of a package treatment plant and a raised sand mound field for a three-bedroom house proposed for a small lot on Bowen Island. The EHO refused the permit because of concerns about a health hazard due to the high water table, a layer of compact, heavily saturated soils close to the surface, the small lot size, the presence of a drainage ditch immediately downslope from the proposed field, the inadequate capacity of the proposed absorption field, and the failure to meet a 10 foot set back from the property line. Mr. Earl appealed on the grounds that the the minimum amount of pipe could accommodate the treatment capacity of the system and that the proposed system complied with the minimum regulatory requirements provided that the distance to the property line from the proposed field was measured from the nearest trench wall inside the sand mound, not from the edge of the mound.

    The Panel found that the capacity of the proposed absorption field may not have accommodated the capacity of the treatment system and therefore more pipe was required. The Panel also found that the setback to the lot boundary should be measured from the edge of the mound. The Panel therefore found that all of the mandatory regulatory requirements had not been met, and that the EHO had no discretion to approve the system. The Panel also found that the severe limitations of the lot created a high probability that effluent would break out from the sand mound and that the effluent would either surface or enter the groundwater system. Therefore, the Panel was not satisfied that the proposed system would safeguard the public health. The appeal was dismissed.