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BCC Ruling No. 00-11-743

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #00-11-743

IN THE MATTER OF Subsection 24(1) of the Building Code Act, 1992.

AND IN THE MATTER OF Sentence 8.2.1.6.(1) of Regulation 403, as amended by O. Reg. 22/98, 102/98, 122/98, 152/99, 278/99, 593/99 and 597/99 (the "Ontario Building Code").

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Mr. Warren Brent, Brent Systems Ltd., Port Carling, Ontario for the resolution of a dispute with Ms. Robin Allen, Inspector, North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority, to determine whether the as-constructed sewage system, with a clearance of only 0.76 m between the nearest point of the septic tank and the foundation wall of the building, provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 8.2.1.6.(1) of the Ontario Building Code at the Wells Cottage, Lot 27, Concession 8, Sub-lot 6, Plan 42R-9075, Seguin/Humphrey Township, Ontario.

APPLICANT
Mr. Warren Brent
Brent Systems Ltd.
Port Carling, Ontario

RESPONDENT
Ms. Robin Allen, D.D.S.S.I.
North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority
Parry Sound, Ontario

PANEL
Mr. Doug Robinson, Chair-Designate
Mr. Frank Wright
Mr. Bill Fellner

PLACE
Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING
March 16th, 2000

DATE OF RULING
March 16th, 2000

APPEARANCES
Mr. Brian Howden, President
Pristine Environmental
Bracebridge, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant

Ms. Robin Allen, D.D.S.S.I.
North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority
Parry Sound, Ontario
The Respondent

RULING

  1. The Applicant

Mr. Warren Brent, Brent Systems Ltd., Port Carling, Ontario, has applied for a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992, to construct a as-constructed sewage system at the Wells Cottage, Lot 27, Concession 8, Sub-lot 6, Plan 42R-9075, Seguin/Humphrey Township, Ontario.

  1. Description of Constrution

The Applicant has recently installed a new Class 4 fully raised septic system to serve a newly constructed Group C occupancy. The building is described as a two storey, detached structure and will be used as a seasonal dwelling. The building contains four bedrooms, 21.5 fixture units and has total finished area of 236 m2. The calculated daily design sewage flow is 2400 L/day and the water supply for the building is provided by a drilled well.

The site is a 2.7 ha cottage property located on Lake Joseph that is covered with brush and some hardwood and pine trees. It has a moderate five to 15° slope that covers most of the lot, including where the cottage sits and all of the portion to the rear, or roadside, of the building. In front of the cottage, at the lakeside, there is a steep 45° slope to the water. A substantial, large granite boulder retaining wall was constructed in front of the cottage to stabilize the steep slope in that area. The soil at the site is thin with the depth to bedrock being only 0.33 m. The profile of the natural soils on the property is silty brown sand with a percolation time of 14 min/cm.

The as-installed septic system includes a 5000 L plastic septic tank, a pump chamber with pump, and a 35 m2 fully raised sand filter bed consisting of 4 runs located at 1.2 m on centres and mantle. The septic tank, installed on the lakeside of the cottage between the building and retaining wall, will receive sewage by means of gravity disposal from the dwelling. When the effluent reaches the pump chamber it will be pumped uphill to the filter bed located approximately 50 m away to the rear of the cottage.

The construction in dispute involves the clearance distance between one corner of the septic tank and a corner of the building located in the facade facing the lake. The clearance distance from the septic tank to the structure at this point is 0.76 m. (The corner in the building is created by a set back in the lakeside wall of the structure. Without this set back, the 0.76 m clearance distance would continue along the entire building-facing length of the septic tank.)

  1. Dispute

The dispute between the Applicant and the Respondent is whether the as-constructed sewage system, with a clearance of only 0.76 m between the nearest point of the septic tank and the foundation wall of the building, provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 8.2.1.6.(1) of the OBC.

This provision sets out the clearance distances required between the treatment unit component of a Class 4 or 5 septic system and structural or environmental foundations. According to this provision, the minimum horizontal clearance distance, as set out in Table 8.2.1.6.A., between a treatment unit, in this case a septic tank, and a building, i.e., the "structure", must be at least 1.5 m. The subject septic tank has a clearance distance of only 0.76 m at its nearest point to the foundation wall of the building.

  1. Provision of the Building Code

Sentence 8.2.1.6. - Clearances for a Class 4 or 5 Sewage System

    1. Except as provided in Sentences 8.2.1.4.(1) and (2), a treatment unit shall not be located closer than the minimum horizontal distances as set out in Table 8.2.1.6.A.

  1. Applicant's Position

The Agent for the Applicant submitted that the as-installed septic tank provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 8.2.1.6.(1) of the Code.

The Agent acknowledged that the placement of the tank, at 0.76 m from the cottage, does not meet the minimum clearance distances set out in table 8.2.1.6.A. He explained, however, that this discrepancy was caused by construction difficulties experienced at the site. Specifically, he mentioned that underlying bedrock meant that blasting would be necessary to position the tank 1.5 m away from the cottage. (This is why it was not possible to rotate the tank as the Respondent suggested.) Nevertheless, blasting was impossible at the time since both the cottage and retaining wall had already been built when the sewage system installation occurred.

The Agent then argued that the subject installation was acceptable. He noted that from a structural standpoint neither the building nor the retaining wall would be adversely affected. In fact, due to the sound construction methods of these structures they do not rely on the infill sand for lateral support. (The entire cottage and retaining wall area was excavated down to bedrock and was backfilled with clean sand.) The cottage foundations are especially strong, he continued. It consists of a poured concrete footing pinned to the bedrock with seven courses of 250 mm concrete block reinforced internally with steel wire and core filled concrete and externally with clean compacted sand on both sides of the foundation wall.

The Agent also argued that the tank installation was environmentally safe. He pointed out that apart from the proximity to the building, the system's construction met Code. Further, he noted that the tank was placed in new, clean sand fill, thereby protecting the tank from the underlying bedrock. In addition, there is no weeping tile located along the entire front of the building where the tank is placed. As such, no effluent can migrate into the stormwater system.

Lastly, the Agent noted that the tank, in his view, could easily be maintained or even replaced without problem.

For these reasons, the Agent concluded that the present tank installation posed "no risk of structural or environmental damage" to the building, the retaining wall, the property or its vicinity.

  1. Respondent's Position

The Respondent submitted that the as-installed septic tank, situated only 0.76 m away from the cottage, does not comply with the 1.5 m minimum setback requirement as determined in the OBC.

By way of background, the Respondent noted that a 1.5 m separation was shown on the plans submitted for approval. During an inspection, however, she discovered that the tank was too close. She suggested at the time that by placing the tank at an angle to the building it might be possible to provide the required separation.

The Respondent then stated that the Code "outlines 'minimum' clearances and does not allow discrepancy for new construction".

She concluded by indicating that she does not have the authority to waive OBC requirements and allow a reduced clearance distance due to the construction difficulties encountered by the Applicant.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the as-constructed sewage system, with a clearance of only 0.76 m between the nearest point of the septic tank and the foundation wall of the building, provides sufficiency of compliance with Sentence 8.2.1.6.(1) of the Ontario Building Code.

  1. Reasons

a) The elevation of the septic tank with respect to the lowest floor level in the building is such that potential for structural and environmental damage is reduced.

b) The foundation of the cottage is sound.

c) Maintenance or replacement of the tank will not be a problem.

d) The Commission is of the opinion that the subject installation will not cause environmental or structural damage to the building or surrounding area.


Dated at Toronto this 16th day in the month of March, in the year 2000, for application number 2000-05.





____________________________

Mr. Doug Robinson, Chair-Designate





_______________________

Mr. Frank Wright





__________________________

Mr. Bill Fellner