Septic Re-inspection Program

When functioning correctly, your septic system is a safe and reliable way of treating household waste and wastewater. But just like other parts of your home, septic systems need maintenance, repair and eventual replacement. Failing or improperly maintained septic systems can:

  • Contaminate your water supply and that of your neighbours.   
  • Decrease your property value
  • Cause expensive repairs

The Township of Georgian Bay has established a septic re-inspection program that identifies both mandatory re-inspection areas and discretionary maintenance programs.

The purpose of the Re-inspection Program is to inspect existing (Class I- Class V) on-site sewage systems, as defined by the Ontario Building Code (OBC), in order to identify maintenance concerns. Onsite Sewage System Maintenance Inspections were implemented by the Township of Georgian Bay as part of an environmental/safety initiative and in accordance with the amended Ontario Building Code (O. Reg. 315/10). The Township of Georgian Bay is committed to the preservation and enhancement of the water quality of our lakes and groundwater.

What is a Septic Re-inspection?

Both the mandatory re-inspection program and discretionary maintenance program aims to inspect sewage systems for signs of failure such as:

  • Ponding water or effluent
  • Saturated filter beds
  • Overgrowth of vegetation on the leaching bed
  • Failure of tanks and septic plumbing
  • Non-approved hook-ups
  • Exposed/malfunctioning tanks 

Understanding Your Septic System

How To Identify Septic Failure

Signs that your septic system may be failing include:

  • A bad smell
  • An unpleasant-looking liquid in the leaching bed
  • Spongy spots and sewage on or near the leaching bed
  • Slow moving or backed-up drains in your home
  • More lush vegetation over the septic bed
  • Broken or disconnected pipes

Not all warning signs are visible above ground – an inspection of the tank is necessary to be certain.

 Caring for your Septic System
Step 1: Pump regularly
  • Ensure you inspect your system regularly. It is required to get your septic tank or treatment unit pumped when the sludge and scum layer occupy one-third of the working capacity of the tank (OBC Div B

Step 2: Inspect often
  • Regular inspections help prevent problems. Keep accurate records of your septic maintenance and have your effluent filter checked and cleaned every year.

Step 3: Pour and flush responsibly
  • FOG’s – known as fats, oils, and grease can be very harmful to your septic system. Don't flush cooking oils, food waste, hazardous chemicals, and harsh cleaning products.

Short Term Rentals & Your Septic

On December 11th, 2023, Council passed By-law 2023-116 to register, regulate and govern Short-Term Rentals in the Township of Georgian Bay.

Short term rental hosts who are on a septic system must ensure that their septic system can accommodate the occupancy of their rental. It is also crucial that hosts maintain their on-site sewage system to ensure it is always function as intended.

Tips for Hosts:

  • Inspect your sewage system annually and get it pumped when needed.
  • Educate renters on a responsible flush. Don’t flush fats, oils, and grease.
  • Create a physical barrier so renters don’t drive over your sewage system.
  • Only rent to the number of occupants your sewage system is designed for.
  • Fix leaky faucets.
  • Maintain the effluent filter. If you don’t know – contact a professional. 

Tips for Renters

  • FOG’s – Fats, Oils, and grease can be harmful to a septic system.
  • Limit the use of water while at the cottage.
  • Hygiene products and chemical cleaners should not enter the septic system.
  • Flush only toilet paper
  • Minimize laundry and dishwasher loads.
  • Never drive over a septic bed.

Mandatory vs Discretionary Re-inspections

Mandatory Re-inspections

Under the Ontario Building Code, the Township has a requirement to complete

mandatory septic inspections. These mandatory inspections are to be completed within

1 kilometer from a municipal water intake supply known as an "IPZ" (Intake Protection

Zone). The Township has Intake Protection Zones located within the communities of

Port Severn and Mactier. The Township is required to complete a sewage

system inspection every 5 years for any system located within the IPZ.

Discretionary Re-inspections

The Ontario Building Code provides the Township with powers to conduct a

discretionary septic re-inspection program to ensure on-site sewage systems are functioning in

a safe and proper manner. The septic re-inspection program is aimed at waterfront properties (both by road access and water) to help protect Township lakes and waterways.

Township staff utilize annual water quality reporting identifying areas with increased water quality concerns, such as E. coli and Phosphorous, to determine properties for inspections. 

Program Mapping & Annual Reports

 2023 Septic Re-inspections

SR 2023 MacTierSR 2023 Galla LakeSR 2023 Go Home Lake

SR 2023 PS MandatorySeptic Repairs 2023SR 2023 Severn River Shoreline

Annual Reporting
 2023 Septic Re-inspection Year-end Report


Septic Permits

The Township of Georgian Bay is the Jurisdiction Having Authority over septic systems within the geographical limits of the municipality. A sewage system permit is required for the construction of any existing or new septic system.

Contact the Building Department for more information about septic systems, permits and inspections.


Water Quality

As an environment-first municipality, the Township's environmental planning initiatives are aimed at improving water quality and ensuring our lakes remain healthy. The Township of Georgian Bay’s Water Quality Monitoring and Septic Re-inspection Program are aimed at monitoring the ecological health of our lakes and maintaining septic systems as part of our overall stewardship initiatives.

To find out more about the Townships water quality monitoring initiatives and the District of Muskoka’s environmental stewardship programs please visit:

Water is critical to all aspects of our lives and it is important that we ensure there is a safe and reliable source of water for all our uses - now and in the future.


Resources For Your Septic System

 Onsite Sewage Systems Resources
 Province of Ontario Septic System GuideOntario Onsite Wastewater AssociationSepticSmart FOCA
 Healthy Shorelines
 Muskoka Watershed CouncilSouthern Georgian Bay Shoreline GuideFOCA




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