Septic Systems – Overview of Installation and Maintenance

Based on the Love Your Lake shoreline assessment program’s Values Survey Summary Report 2019 (see Reference Materials, below), a large number of Kahshe and Bass Lake property owners expressed concern regarding water quality in general and more specifically, about faulty or poorly maintained septic systems.  As such, this overview has been prepared and is accompanied by a more detailed and specific document pertaining to Kahshe and Bass Lakes in an attempt to educate owners regarding best operation and maintenance activities as well as detecting signs of system failure.

Your septic system is a sewage treatment facility that requires careful attention to design, construction, operation and maintenance.  As a property owner, this is your legal responsibility.  In Ontario, the specifications for construction and maintenance of sewage systems with a flow of less than 10,000 litres per day are regulated under the Ontario Building Code, and municipalities are responsible for the inspection and approval of all septic installations. For Kahshe and Bass Lakes, the Building Department of the Town of Gravenhurst is the agency with this responsibility.

There are a number of excellent information sources pertaining to the design and installation of septic systems in Ontario. However, because anyone who is planning to have a new or replacement system installed would be required to have this work carried out by a licensed professional, this portion of the overview will simply draw attention to some of the more comprehensive publications that provide basic information on septic system design and installation. These are listed below under Reference Materials.

However, because most properties on Kahshe and Bass Lakes already have a septic system in place, the more important questions pertaining to these systems and their potential to impact our lakes include:

    • How to operate and maintain septic systems to extend longevity and minimize failure?
    • What are the signs of a failing system?
    • Who conducts inspections and what are they looking for?
    • What kinds of failures are common in septic re-inspection programs across Ontario?
    • What can I do to make a difference?

To provide a better understanding of each of these questions, a more detailed document with information relevant to properties on Kahshe and Bass Lakes has been developed and can be found here.

Reference Materials

Love Your Lake, Lake Values Survey Summary Report 2019 (Kahshe, Bass), 14 pages

Ontario Rural Wastewater Centre and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. 2010. Your Septic System: Protecting Your Investment and the Environment. Queen’s Printer for Ontario. 2 pages.

MMAH. 2011. On-Site Sewage System Maintenance Inspections. Building and Development Branch, Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. 6 pages.

Pearson, Ron. 2016. Phosphorus in Detergents – Should we reduce the use of laundry and dishwashing appliances? Kahshe Krier Article by Kahshe Lake Steward. February 2016.

AgCan-AgFood and OMAFRA. 2019. Septic Smart – Understanding Your Home’s Septic System. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. 12 pages.

FOCA. 2019. Septic Re-Inspection Programs – A Guide for Community Groups. Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations. 37 pages.

Town of Gravenhurst. 2019. A Guide to Maintaining Your Septic System: Protecting Your Investment and the Environment. 2 pages.

Town of Gravenhurst-Personal Communication. 2019. On-Site Re-Inspection Program Process. 1 page.


Ron Pearson

Kahshe Lake Steward


Kahshe Lake Ratepayers' Association (1994) Inc. (KLRA)
PO Box 1318, Gravenhurst, ON, Canada, P1P 1V5
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