held at the Sauble Beach United Church on Friday, August 3, 2018 from 2-4pm.

Our thanks to Kirk Roote and George Korzeniecki for taking the time to prepare for and attend this meeting. George normally visits SFN on Thursdays but agreed to switch to Friday of the long weekend to accommodate our request. He lives east of Orillia. Thanks to you both from a job well done.

We wish to acknowledge and thank Sharon Collie (South Sauble) and Brian Death (French Bay) for these comprehensive and detailed notes.

Kirk Roote was on holiday last week  but has promised he will scan the business cards of septic contractors with whom the Lands office is dealing. These will be posted here on this site as soon as we receive them.

Kirk Roote – Lands Manager for Saugeen First Nation

SFN is on a path to qualify under the First Nation Lands Management regime to opt out of the land related requirements of the Indian Act and take responsibility for their reserve land.  One of the Government of Canada requirements is that all septic systems on the SFN reserve land are inspected and updated as required.  This includes the 350 homes on SFN reserve owned by Band members.

Kirk hopes to have the septic system inspections concluded before the existing lease expires in April 2021.  They will start with those lots on the waterfront first and move back from there.  There will not be any warning on an inspection.

Saugeen First Nation has been leasing lots for over 70 years.  When Grey Bruce transferred responsibility to SFN for septic installations, they only passed over records for 250 lots (of the 1,250 leased lots) so the SFN Land Management records are incomplete.  Several contractors maintain their records and in some cases back to the 1980’s.

Arcadis have completed a Phase 1 environmental assessment for Saugeen First Nation and may be sub-contacted for some of the septic system inspection process.

Suggested Steps for Leaseholders

  1. Check over your existing legal and other paperwork related to your leased lot to see if you have any information on the installation date, specifications and layout of the existing septic system.
  2. Call the Lands Office to see if their records include the details of your most recent septic installation.
  3. Get a septic site inspection from a local contractor to understand the existing capacity and condition of the septic system. You may want to ensure the four corners of your lot are clearly marked before calling out a contractor.
  4. Update the Lands Office with any improvements you make to your system and these records will be maintained in a digitized record for you and all future Leaseholders.

Kirk has restarted the Lands Management website and hopes to get a lot of this information on their site in two weeks.  He will also post a list of local septic system contractors.   

Kirk also mentioned Septic Smart as a good source for general information on a septic system. 

Some rough septic specifications and discussion points included:

  • Septic systems usually have a 40 year lifespan
  • Local hard water breaks down the concrete septic tanks
  • New installations require a 1,000 gal septic tank
  • 3 bedrooms = 800 gal existing septic tank
  • 4 bedrooms = 1,000 gal existing septic tank
  • Septic system must be 100’ from a sand-point or dug well and 50’ from a drilled well
  • Adjoining lots are part of the above layout considerations
  • Willow tree roots travel deep and will obstruct septic beds
  • Poplar tree roots travel more on the surface
  • Tile beds must be at least 10’ from trees
  • Overall system design considers the maximum occupancy (two people per bedroom) as well as the number of washrooms, sinks, etc.

George Korzeniecki

Environmental Health Officer for Indigenous Services Canada (Environmental Public Health Services, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch)

George has been employed by Health Canada since the 1970’s and with the Federal Health Inspection branch related to Indigenous land since 1990.  He currently manages the environmental issues for 8 First Nations.  He stated that his primary responsibility it to protect the environmental integrity of the Indigenous lands and water within his area.  George said that First Nation decisions consider 7 generations forward, so he intends to respect that decision process.

Any existing septic systems that are metal of any kind will be ordered to be updated within 60 days.  George emphasized that we do not want anyone including children and grandchildren falling into rotting metal tanks.  He further clarified that any past verbal approval for a current substandard septic system will not be considered. 

He works with Kirk to advise him on site-specific issues related to design and layout.  Together they approve contractor drawings and specifications for each leased land or Band member site.  They look at the lot site and consider any new out buildings, vegetation, setbacks and other issues noted earlier.

Together, they try to reduce any tree cutting or damage to sand dunes and the like in the final septic system design.

George said that over the years, he has seen everything.  If your shed has bunk beds in it, then it’s not a shed but an additional bedroom. 


Some random points raised by George

  • Never move lot line stakes
  • Septic water system layouts must be considered in calculating setbacks
  • 2,000 gal holding tanks (with alarms) will only be approved as a last resort
  • The road allowance cannot be used for your water service or septic system
  • Shore wells must post signs in the cottage to say the water is not safe to drink – there are other restrictions that should be researched by those cottage owners drawing water from the lake
  • Lakefront septic systems must be set back 100’ from the high water mark
  • Compost toilets are approved by Health Canada but must be maintained
  • Several septic systems are available with septic beds as small as 8’ x 8’ and costs ranging from $10,000 to $20,000
  • New septic systems include a F1 filter that should be cleaned (with a garden hose) annually
  • One First Nation insists that all septic systems be brought up to the current building code BEFORE the cottage can be sold
  • George is aware of site remediation issues costing over $750,000 when a diesel fuel stored on a lease lot leaked onto that property and then to a neighbour’s lot. He encourage all cottage owners to check their insurance policy to ensure you are covered for such losses originating on your lot or a neighbours lot.

Questions Raised

Specific questions were difficult for Kirk or George to answer, as site layout is a primary factor so the site MUST be seen first.

  • An 800 gal two chamber septic system is usually approved for a two bedroom cottage lot
  • A 400 gal tank could be added to an existing 600 gal tank
  • Systems installed in the past five years will likely meet the code
  • There are no “grandfathering” privileges with this inspection process
  • There is a provision for “Chapter 11” exceptions in system designs but these are not encouraged by the Federal government


Ontario building code as it relates to septic systems