Helping shoreline homeowners maintain their septic systems: Bay of Quinte

Homeowners with shoreline property on the Bay of Quinte are receiving free checkups of their septic systems.

Photo: © Environment and Climate Change Canada.

2012-2015 Funding: $300,000 total, including $90,000 provided by the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund

Other Project Contributors: Ontario Ministry of the Environment; the Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan Office; the Lower Trent Region Conservation Authority; local municipalities; and local health units.

Homeowners with shoreline property on the Bay of Quinte are receiving free checkups of their septic systems as part of a long-term effort supported by the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund to reduce the amount of phosphorus entering the bay’s waters.

The Bay of Quinte is a narrow inlet, about 100 km in length, on the north shore of Lake Ontario near the eastern outlet of the lake. Environmental concerns have focused on: excess nutrients, particularly phosphorus, from sewage treatment plants, faulty septic tanks and surface run-off from urban and agricultural lands; loss of wetlands due to shoreline development; and toxic contamination from historical industrial sites.

The Septic Stewardship Program, part of the Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan, is a voluntary educational program providing homeowners with checkups of their septic tanks and leaching beds, as well as advice on system maintenance. In 2012, 31 inspections were undertaken as part of the program, focusing on waste disposal systems having frontages on the Bay of Quinte and the lower reaches of the Trent, Moira, Salmon and Napanee Rivers.

The visits provide an opportunity to inform landowners about the impact that their actions can have on water quality. A failing septic system can add phosphorus to nearby waterbodies, leading to algal blooms and excessive plant growth. As well, bacteria from a failing septic system can cause localized health impacts for homeowners and their neighbours.

The Program pays to have the septic tank pumped out as part of the checkup, a savings of up to $250. Participating homeowners also receive personalized reports on their system and free water-use efficiency devices. During the site visits, homeowners are provided information about other stewardship programs underway as part of the Remedial Action Plan.

For more information on the Bay of Quinte Area of Concern, please visit: Bay of Quinte Remidial Action Plan.

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