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This issue contains information on:
Permit Filing
Septic Awareness Week
...and more!

When Do You Need to Apply for a Permit or File Paperwork with the Authority Having Jurisdiction?

There seems to be some confusion as to when a permit is required (AB, SK, MB) or when a filing must occur (BC), when work is being completed on a private sewage system.  Below is a breakdown of when you need to file paperwork before you begin work:

The requirement for a permit is covered in Alberta in both the Permit Regulation and in the Alberta Standard of Practice.  The clause in the Standard of Practice is a bit vague as far as the requirement and is often misconstrued.  The Permit Regulation is more clear, but again there is a disconnect about what it means and what people interpret it to mean.

With permit applications and approved permits being more closely scrutinized lately, it is important to know what the requirements are.  The most common question we get is:  Do I need a permit to replace a septic tank?

In the past, we would have said that no, but discussion recently with Alberta Municipal Affairs lately, says yes.

The Permit Regulation states the following with regards to private sewage:

Private Sewage Disposal Permit
16(1) A permit in the private sewage discipline is required for a private sewage disposal system undertaking. (2) Despite subsection (1), a permit is not required for the replacement of any equipment of a private sewage disposal system with units of a similar type if the replacement is made for the purpose of maintaining the system and does not modify the design of the system.

What Does This Mean Exactly?
What does clause (2) mean?  Is the replacement of a septic tank part of “replacement of any equipment”?  Municipal Affairs has informed us that “replacement of any equipment” does not include the septic tank.  The septic tank is part of the treatment train and not a piece of equipment.  A piece of equipment would be a pump, effluent filter, high-water alarm or something like that.

So, heads up Alberta designers and installers – if you are replacing a septic tank you now need a permit.

British Columbia
British Columbia’s SPM V3 lays out the requirement for a filing very clearly.  The table below is extracted from SPM V3:

The requirement for a permit application is stated in the Onsite Wastewater Management Systems Regulation.  There are some exemptions identified as well but they cover the more unusual technologies for the most part.

Onsite Wastewater Management Systems Regulation
2 Subject to section 3, this regulation applies to onsite wastewater management systems
with a combined sewage or greywater flow of less than 10,000 L (2,200 gallons) per day and to privies.
Exempt systems
3(1) The following wastewater management systems are exempt from having to be registered with the department:
(a) patent closets;
(b) chemical closets;
(c) composting toilet systems;
(d) privies;
(e) other systems as approved by the director.
The Saskatchewan Private Sewage Works Regulation states:
Permit required for private sewage works
4(1) Subject to subsection (2), no person shall establish, install, construct, extend,
renovate, alter or repair a private sewage works, except pursuant to the authority
of a permit.
Saskatchewan Health Authority provides us with the following additional information on when you require a permit:
  • if you are making a permanent physical alteration to the system (changing from one pump type to another, different type of filter, more lateral lines or any physical process of digging that may change the nature of the system (usually the septic field not septic tank) then you require a reconstruct or renovation permit.
  • If you are making a repair that would not lead to any actual impact or change to the system (replacing the same pump, maintenance, minor repairs to seals or filters etc.) then you do not require a permit as fundamentally nothing in the system has changed and therefore does not need to be documented.
  • If the repair involved the total rebuild of the system.
When in doubt, do the paperwork and apply for a permit or submit a filing!

Contest Alert: Show Your Creative Side!

A properly working system is important, but do you ever have a little fun with it?

We're calling on our readers to submit their most creative installation component!

The winner, as judged by WCOWMA administration, will be given $100.00 gift card to Mark's. The winner will also have their work featured in the Winter edition of our Onsite Informer magazine, which has a reach of over 4000 members and stakeholders!

Click here for more information, including how to submit your entry.

Bottom left image is by Mike Hyde, bottom right image is by Daniel Morris.

Septic Awareness Week

Septic Awareness workshops have been scheduled throughout the Western provinces.  More information is available on our website.

You can also join our Facebook event!
(Keep scrolling for more information in the Events section below.)
TELUS Promises $1M in Business Funding, Advertising & Mentorship

Are you a small business owner with an incredible story of resilience and community impact?

Telus is committing $1M to champion small business.

You can apply to for your chance to receive $10,000 and more.
Please see their website for more information.
AOWMA is back with a live Convention and Trade Show – February 2022

The AOWMA Convention Committee is working on plans for a live convention and trade show to take place in Red Deer, AB on February 15, 16, & 17, 2021.

The committee discussed the various challenges everyone has faced in the past year and a bit.  Everyone has been adapting, adjusting, and innovating.  The industry is constantly changing and 2022 will bring a new Standard of Practice, increased enforcement and accountability and more.

As a result, the Convention Committee is developing a theme for the event that recognizes that we have all weathered a pretty significant storm and embraces the movement forward and growth that will result.

We need your help!

Association members are asked to submit a slogan or theme for the Convention and Trade Show that supports the theme concept of weathering a storm.  The winning submission will receive an AOWMA Safety Shirt and paid registration to the convention.

Submit your ideas to:

We want to hear from you!

What topics would you like to see presented at the convention?  Are there workshops you think would be of value?  Please bring your ideas forward to us.  This is your show, so tell us what you want to see!  Contact the AOWMA office by phone or email, or call a member of the Board of Directors.

Provincial/Federal Job Grants Continue to be Available for Training

The Provincial associations have all been receiving training applicants who are being funded by the various federal/provincial job grants that are currently available.  This is a good opportunity for small businesses to have their employees and even family member employees participate in training at no cost to themselves.

The funding is typically up to $10,000 per applicant and there are a variety of training opportunities that are eligible for the grants.  Training must involve more than 24 hours of contact/study.

For more information on the job grants in your province, click on the appropriate link below:


British Columbia



Codes of Conduct

The provincial associations are currently working on policy surrounding member and Board of Director Codes of Conduct.

Each member receives a copy of the association Code of Conduct in their membership package yearly, which they should read, sign, and keep on file.  A copy of the signed Code of Conduct should be returned to the association office to be kept in the member's file.

Industry associations create Codes of Conduct to stress the importance of professionalism, which should be part of a business' standard operating practice.

When complaints regarding members are received in the association offices, the complaint is reviewed for non-compliance of the Code of Conduct.  The Boards are working on policy regarding violation of the Code of Conduct that support the bylaws of the associations.
Closer Scrutiny Occurring in Alberta Permit Reviews

Onsite wastewater contractors and safety codes officers are undergoing more intense scrutiny as Alberta Municipal Affairs and the Alberta Safety Codes Authority audit permit applications and closed permits to ensure that the regulations and Standard of Practice are being met.

Contractors should be aware that if their permit documents do not meet the requirements of the SOP and if their site and soil evaluations do not incorporate the nomenclature of the Canadian Soil Classification System, they will have their permit returned to them for correction.

Design document templates are available from the association office as are current worksheets and other tools to aid in the design process.  Call your provincial association for access to these important tools of the trade.

Updated Timeline for New Alberta SOP

The new target for release of the new Standard of Practice has been changed to the month of September. The AOWMA is preparing to develop the curriculum for a series of Standard of Practice Update training events.  Once the new SOP is released, current Certificate of Competency holders will be required to participate in Standard of Practice Update training provided by Alberta Onsite Wastewater Management Association.  A time frame for completion of this training will be set by Alberta Municipal Affairs.

One year following the release of the Standard of Practice, it will come into force.  In the interim between the release and coming into force, the 2015 Standard of Practice will continue to be utilized for design and installation of onsite wastewater systems.

LFH At-Grade Installation Workshop

The AOWMA is holding an LFH At-Grade demonstration. 

This practical training workshop is a great opportunity to get hands-on experience building an LFH At-Grade Onsite Wastewater Treatment System.

LFH At-Grade Installation Field Day
September 16, 2021
Gibbons, AB

Site & Soils Evaluation Workshop

A Site and Soils Evaluation Field Day will be held for those interested in learning more about performing detailed site visits and designing systems for difficult situations and soils. 

This training workshop will provide information on assessing soil structure and texture, assessing site conditions and constraints, logging information and applying that knowledge to the design of onsite systems

Site & Soils Field Evaluation Workshop
October 1, 2021
Cranbrook, BC

Registration opens soon. Contact the association office at 1-855-872-2645 for more information

Onsite Wastewater Practitioner Training

The Western Canada Onsite Wastewater Management Association provides an excellent industry training program for Onsite Wastewater Professionals throughout Western Canada.

This training program has been found to meet or exceed the requirements of the Agreement on Internal Trade, the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement, and the New West Partnership.

Training, including the number of days, varies by province. More details on each program can be found on the provincial training pages, or by contacting our office.

Students will be required to complete an online training component prior to attending the classroom sessions.

Dates to be Announced
Contact the association office at 1-855-872-2645 for more information.


Dates to be Announced

Contact the association office at 855-872-2650 for more information.

Virtual Classroom
Days 1-4 October 26, 27, 28, 29, 2021 
Days 4-8 November 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 2021

Contact the association office at 877-489-7471 for more information.  

Dates to be Announced

Contact the association office at 855-872-2659 for more information.  

Upcoming Industry Events

You can keep up-to-date on industry events on our events pages:

British Columbia
NOWRA Mega-Conference
October 17-20, 2021
Embassy Suites San Marcos Hotel, Spa & Conference Center , San Marcos, TX

Imagine a Day Without Water
October 21, 2021
World Toilet Day
November 19, 2021

World Soil Day
December 5, 2021

Septic Awareness Week

Join your industry association in Septic Awareness Week.

The Western Canada Onsite Wastewater Management Association and is affiliates will be promoting septic awareness during the week of September 20 to 24.

The purpose of this initiative is to promote proper operation and maintenance of onsite wastewater systems.

Notices will be put up on our websites and in local newspapers about the importance of maintaining septic systems along with tips for operation.Delivery of our Septic Sense program will take place during that week. Information on available sessions is listed below.

Please feel free to share the workshop information. Join us in asking your customers, regulatory authorities and municipal representatives:  Do you have Septic Sense?

Contact the association office for materials to hand out to your customers!

You can also join our Facebook event! Don't forget to invite your customers as well! 

Septic Sense Webinar Information:

BC Septic Sense Zoom Webinar #1

When: Sep 21, 2021 07:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Topic: Septic Sense

Register in advance for this webinar:

BC Septic Sense Zoom Webinar #2

When: Sep 23, 2021 03:30 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Topic: Septic Sense

Register in advance for this webinar:

SK Septic Sense Zoom Webinar

When: Sep 23, 2021 07:00 PM Saskatchewan
Topic: Saskatchewan Septic Sense

Register in advance for this webinar:

MB Septic Sense Zoom Webinar

When: Sep 22, 2021 07:00 PM Winnipeg
Topic: Manitoba Septic Sense

Register in advance for this webinar:

AB Septic Sense Zoom Webinar #1

When: Sep 20, 2021 07:00 PM MDT (US and Canada)
Topic: Alberta Septic Sense

Register in advance for this webinar:

AB Septic Sense Zoom Webinar #2

When: Sep 21, 2021 03:30 PM MDT (US and Canada)
Topic: Alberta Septic Sense

Register in advance for this webinar:

AB Septic Sense Zoom Webinar #3

When: Sep 22, 2021 07:00 PM MDT (US and Canada)
Topic: Alberta Septic Sense

Register in advance for this webinar:

Find us on Facebook

Stay up-to-date on industry news, learn about our latest training sessions, and check out photos of some of our events all on our Facebook pages!

AOWMA Facebook page
WCOWMA-BC Facebook page
SOWMA Facebook page
MOWMA Facebook page
WCOWMA Facebook page
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