Septic Awareness Week

Septic Awareness Week

The WCOWMA Onsite Wastewater Management of BC (WCOWMA-BC) reminds all of you that September 16 to 20, 2019 is Septic Awareness Week.

Here is an outline at what to do and what not to do if you have a septic system.

Septic Dos

  • Have a ROWP maintenance provider confirm or develop a maintenance plan specific to your septic system that includes at minimum an annual assessment. This maintenance plan should include as constructed drawings.
  • Have your tank pumped out as recommended by your Maintenance Provider.
  • Have your effluent filter cleaned as needed, approximately every 6 months.
  • Remove sludge in spring rather than fall to avoid loading the tank with undigested solids during cold months.
  • Keep your septic tank cover accessible for inspections and pumping. Install risers if necessary and always keep the tank lid secure.
  • Package treatment plants are maintained according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Know the location of your septic tank or package treatment plant and soils treatment components.
  • Be aware there are required setbacks for the installation of underground sprinklers in the vicinity of septic systems.
  • Watch for any ground settlement that might direct water onto the soils treatment components.
  • Keep the area around the septic tank and dispersal area grassed to promote evaporation and avoid erosion.

Septic Don’ts

  • Do not enter or access a septic tank.
  • Do not use septic tank additives.
  • Do not disinfect, scrub and wash the tank.
  • Do not allow vehicles to drive over, or park on, any septic system components.
  • Do not use a septic field as pens or pastures for animals.
  • Do not plant any trees or shrubs on or near the bed or tanks; their roots can clog pipes.
  • Do not drain downspouts, sump pumps, etc. into the septic system.
  • Do not alter drainage features without consideration for impacts to the dispersal field.
  • Do not build over any septic or soils component or cover it with a hard surface such as asphalt, brick or patio stones.
  • Do not excessively water the lawn over the soils treatment component area.

There’s more great information on the WCOWMA -BC site for Septic Awareness Week.

If you live in the following regions, please be aware they also have public education programs available to homeowners with septic systems. See their websites or contact them directly for more information.

Capital Regional District Septic Savvy

Regional District of Nanaimo SepticSmart

Comox Valley Regional District Septic

Columbia Shuswap Regional District Septic Smart

For more information on onsite sewage disposal and wastewater treatment, see our services page. We also have a blog post on onsite sewage disposal.

Septic Awareness Week

Maintaining Your Onsite Sewage Disposal System

The moment you step out of urban environments you’ll find onsite sewage disposal systems are in wide use throughout BC. The Capital Regional District (CRD), the Saanich Peninsula, and western communities all the way to Port Renfrew rely on onsite sewage disposal. There are many methods to discharge effluent from the treatment system into the environment. These include gravity dispersal, shallow drip dispersal and raised sand mounds to provide a vertical separation for adequate removal of remaining pathogens.

Summertime is the best time to inspect your field

Generally, summertime is an excellent opportunity to see the outline of your disposal field and to gauge the performance of your onsite sewage disposal system. It’s then when surrounding grass areas turn brown from lack of summertime precipitation. Take this opportunity to inspect the condition of your disposal field. Are there any areas which are noticeably more damp than others? This can be as little as excessive growth of grass, to surfacing of water like a puddle. A broken pipe could be the problem in more serious cases, as water floods the field each time a pump cycle occurs. This is the time to call a service provider for repairs.

You can complete minor repairs with little fuss and get your system operational again with little impact. Opportunities for further inspection and potentially flushing of the disposal laterals may be considered in conjunction with the service provider. When was the last time your septic tank was pumped? The septic tank is designed to settle solids and provide slow treatment and breakdown. This creates a sludge settling on the bottom of the tank and as it rises, the treatment capacity of the septic tank diminishes. A good operating system should be pumped every 3 to 5 years. More frequently if there is high usage of the system.

Watch for plant growth patterns

An onsite community disposal field.

As noted in the photographs, the first system is obvious as that is where the vegetation grows. The field is in good condition, and the field is the only source of moisture at this time, hence the growth. The second photograph is from a wetter community and you can still see the disposal laterals. This field is in good condition, and routine maintenance ensures a reasonable operating life for the system.

Septic Field in Port Renfrew, BC.

Feel free to call MSR Solutions to discuss your onsite sewage disposal issues. We are more than happy to assist you and provide support as required.

See our Services page for a listing of all our services.

BCWWA Welcomes New President

BCWWA Welcomes New President

On May 21, 2019, Mike Seymour, President of MSR Solutions Inc., was welcomed as the new President of the BCWWA. Mike served on the BCWWA board for seven years, most recently as vice-president.

“I’ve enjoyed serving on the board with Mike who always keeps our discussions interesting and lively,” said past president, Jeremy Clowes. “Mike is one the most passionate and engaged persons I’ve worked with at this organization and I wish him all the best over the next year as we continue to move forward with our new strategic plan.”

Mike has been involved with the BCWWA since the early 1990s as a member. He noted to his former employer, and a past President, Bill Hyslop of NovaTec Consultants, that he had hoped to follow in his footsteps. Mike has now attained that goal and is grateful to Bill for his support and mentoring.

“I appreciate the guidance and mentoring I received from Bill, as well as from Mike Nolan of KWL. He was the president I first served under on my initial start on the BCWWA board seven years ago.”

Mike has been attending conferences since the ’90s and joined a volunteer committee on Small Sewer Systems in 2001. He became chair of that committee and then joined the Leadership Council. As a member of the Board, Mike chaired the Leadership Council.

In his role as president, Mike will work with other BCWWA board members and the CAO. He will support the BCWWA Strategic Plan as they continue to support water sector professionals, in reaching out to their constituents. Other involvements include:

  • supporting a growth in membership
  • providing opportunities to advance knowledge due to changes in the Lead in Water Guidelines
  • expanding the communities of practice to support in increased member participation and knowledge exchange.

Mike is always available to hear from you and express your comments to the rest of the Board and Association. Feel free to reach out to him. He looks forward to seeing everyone in Penticton for the next Conference on April 26-28, 2020.

Select Society of Sanitary Sludge Shovelers

The 5S Award (Select Society of Sanitary Sludge Shovelers) was also awarded to Mike Seymour at the 2019 BCWWA Conference in Victoria. This award recognizes outstanding meritorious service, above and beyond the call of duty to the BCWWA through active, continuous and meaningful contribution to the BCWWA over many years.

Select Society of Sanitary Sludge Shovelers

Through his active membership on many committees over the years, and his volunteering on the BCWWA board, Mike was recognized, along with Thomas Dunn of WSP, for his contributions to the SCADA committee, and training sessions over many years. Also recognized was Pat Miller of Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality for her service to BCWWA and the Environmental Operators Certification Program (EOCP) and linking of those two organizations to advance training and sharing of information.

Build a Bike – Team Building

Build a Bike – Team Building

There’s nothing like a team building exercise to unite people. Unless of course that team building exercise also results in a donation that makes many people happy.

MSR Solutions recently completed their Teamwork and Creative Thinking Sessions with Sara Wegwitz from Tailor Making Health. They also had expert bike mechanic support from Simon at Cycles West to ensure a successful result. At the end of the day the team had built two awesome bikes that were donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Victoria through Beth Diprose.

“We had a blast and spread a little grease around the office,” said CEO, Mike Seymour. “We made sure to do test drives to ensure the bikes were rideable. Simon from Cycles West made sure they were safe before they were donated.

Two lucky children from the Brentwood, BC area will receive the bikes.

“A big thank you to the team at MSR, who made this so much fun,” said Seymour. “And of course to Simon for his guidance and oversight, to Beth for finding a wonderful home for the bikes, and to Sara, perhaps the most awesome performance and mental fitness coach around.”

Exercises like these are what make the team at MSR Solutions great.

The Myth of Flushable Wipes

The Myth of Flushable Wipes

While the packaging may say flushable, in reality, flushable wipes are now a huge problem. CBC recently published an article on the topic of flushable wipes, which showed that 21 of 23 wipes didn’t disintegrate at all. The Ryerson report, published in April of this year, clearly shows the damage done by these wipes advertised as flushable.

Municipalities across Canada spend upwards of $250 million annually to remove blockages, many caused by flushing items that should never be flushed. The packaging may say flushable, and they will pass into the system easily by flushing. It’s what happens after that is the problem. Many flushable items have a negative impact on sewer systems installed in anticipation of biodegradable solids and liquids.

Mike Seymour, of MSR Solutions, knows the battle that takes places below our streets.

“Our sewers were designed to handle human waste,” Seymour said. “Our sewage system was not created as a catch all for garbage. Many people don’t know what they can flush, so they think if it fits, you can flush it.”

While flushable baby and cosmetic wipes are the latest to top the list of things not to flush, there are several other items that can wreak havoc on our waste water systems.

Do Not Flush

  • Condoms – do not break down in water
  • Makeup removal pads and cotton swabs – absorb liquid and break down slowly
  • Tampons – absorb liquid and break down slowly
  • Diapers – a huge no-no as they can hold many times their weight in liquid
  • Paper towels & tissues – these are not the same as toilet paper, they do not break down quickly
  • Cigarette Butts – filled with toxic chemicals that in turn could end up in your drinking water.
  • Dental Floss – can actually form a net and hold on to other debris
  • Medication – return unused items to the pharmacy for disposal, do not flush into our water system
  • Kitty Litter – another “flushable” item that is not flushable. Litter dehydrates waste which then absorbs water when flushed
  • Gum – this will create a sticky situation in your pipes
  • Pets – while most people don’t try to flush their dead pets down the toilets, many a dead pet fish received a “burial at sea” via the toilet. Like everything else on this list, they don’t break down easily and if you have other “non-flushable” items going down the toilet, chances are they’ll clog up together.

You will notice that each of the above items tend to retain their shape for a long time. Only items which readily break down or can be digested, should be flushed. Disposing of items in the proper place not only saves you money on plumbing bills, it also helps the entire waste water disposal system.

For information on the services provided by MSR Solutions, visit our Services page.

BCWWA Conference 2019

BCWWA Conference 2019

Anyone interested in knowing where they get their drinking water from, and what happens when they flush their toilets, should attend the British Columbia Water and Waste (BCWWA) Annual Conference and Trade Show in Victoria May 26 to 28, 2019.

The trade show portion is held Sunday and Monday at the Victoria Conference Centre (720 Douglas Street), and is open to the public at no charge.

“The effort and resources that go into delivering safe water and wastewater services have traditionally gone unnoticed by most water users,” said BCWWA incoming President, Mike Seymour of MSR Solutions Inc. “This is a result of our infrastructure being hidden away underground or far from busy residential and commercial areas. It’s also because our skilled water professionals across British Columbia and the Yukon deliver these services each and every day without incident.”

Seymour also added that external forces, such as population growth and climate change, are now pushing water and wastewater services into the spotlight.

“The reality today is that the new normal is one of alternating floods and droughts. This happens in
many regions of BC. There’s also the recent water shortage faced by communities
around the world such as Cape Town, South Africa. These occurrences help bring
our sector and the resources we manage to the forefront of public
consciousness.”

Increasing Profile of Water Issues

Seymour wants to ensure this increasing attention helps propel us in a positive direction. “For example, raising the profile of water issues could create the political will to fix urgent problems. It could also increase public and political scrutiny on the services we deliver. The information we provide, how we provide it, and who we provide it to can help or hinder our efforts to provide safe, sustainable water services to our communities.”

The 2019 BCWWA Annual Conference & Trade Show’s theme is focused on The Rise of Water. This theme examines all the work that takes place behind the scenes in order to deliver safe and reliable water services. It encompasses the efforts underway to raise the public profile of the water sector and the importance of the services we provide. In addition, they will discuss how to best navigate the increasing spotlight on our sector as the demand for water increases while the security of its sources is in flux.

For information on the types of services offered by MSR Solutions Inc., please visit our services page.