Sewer System Plan Gets Preliminary OK

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Homes along the Otonabee River in the city are seen from Riverview Park and Zoo on Nov. 4. While many riverside homes are connected to the city water system, some older houses still rely on wells and septic systems – something the city wants to change. (Photo credit: Kennedy Gordon/Examiner Files)

Article courtesy of  Joelle Kovach | November 16, 2015 | The Peterborough Examiner | Shared as educational material

A plan to compel riverside property owners to hook up to the municipal sewer system rather than use a septic system got approval from city councillors on Monday.

The city’s drinking water comes from the Otonabee River, and the idea is to protect that water from potential contamination.

On Monday, councillors gave preliminary approval to a new bylaw that would require riverside properties to be hooked up to the municipal sewers if their septic systems fail an inspection.

The plan was proposed because the provincial government expects it: It has given municipalities until Jan. 1 to adopt this type of bylaw.

But connecting to the municipal sewer system is potentially expensive, and the property-owner would be expected to cover the cost.

Coun. Dave Haacke told councillors the cost is $700 per metre to connect to city services.

That concerned Coun. Keith Riel, who heard from several constituents who would may face pricey bills as a result of the bylaw’s adoption.

Some have upgraded their septic systems at great expense, and Riel is concerned that now they’ll have to pay to hook up to municipal services.

But city planner Richard Straka said that septic systems may be accepted if they pass an inspection from the local health unit.

Subsequent inspections would take place every 5 years and cost $270 each time, billed to property owners.

Meanwhile there’s only one particular zone along the river where the bylaw would apply: both banks of the Otonabee in the area of the Riverview Park and Zoo.

There are seven properties in the area that are on septic systems, says a city staff report.

Ken Hetherington, the manager of the city’s planning division, said people would have to pay to have their own properties dug up and have sewers installed.

But the city would cover any digging on municipal land or adding of “lateral” sewers to allow private properties to hook up, he said.

Coun. Dan McWilliams wanted to know more about water safety though, saying he was concerned that occasionally Lakefield’s sewers get backed up because of heavy rain.

He asked whether they ever dump sewage into the Otonabee.

Mayor Daryl Bennett said the City of Peterborough is advised whenever Lakefield has overflowing sewers.

That didn’t seem to satisfy McWilliams.

“Do we drink bottled water, when that happens?” he asked.

City staff said perhaps Peterborough Utilities could better answer the question, and so McWilliams asked for a staff report on the topic.

Councillors gave unanimous approval to the bylaw. It now must be ratified at a future city council meeting.

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