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BCC Ruling No. 98-28-633

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BUILDING CODE COMMISSION DECISION ON B.C.C. #98-28-633

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

AND IN THE MATTER OF Article 8.7.6.1. of Regulation 403, as amended by O. Reg. 22/98, 102/98 and 122/98 (the "Ontario Building Code").

AND IN THE MATTER OF an application by Mr. Roger Howard, Planner, Rice Development Corp., Brampton, Ontario for the resolution of a dispute with Mr. Stephen Barks, Chief Building Official, Town of Innisfil, Ontario to determine whether the proposed residential sewage system which incorporates a recirculation sand filter with a shallow buried trench disposal system is permitted to be installed when considering Article 8.7.6.1. of the Ontario Building Code at Part of Lot 7, Conc. 7, Town of Innisfil, County of Simcoe, Ontario.

APPLICANT

Mr. Roger Howard, Planner
Rice Development Corp.
Brampton, Ontario

RESPONDENT

Mr. Stephen Barks
Chief Building Official
Town of Innisfil

PANEL

Mr. Roy Philippe (Chair)
Mr. Michael Lio
Mr. Frank Wright

PLACE

Toronto, Ontario

DATE OF HEARING

July 9, 1998

DATE OF RULING

July 29, 1998

APPEARANCES

Mr. Jim Firth, Branch Manager, Burnside Development Services
Newmarket, Ontario
Agent for the Applicant

Mr. Stephen Barks, Chief Building Official
Town of Innisfil, Ontario
For the Respondent

RULING

  1. The Applicant

Mr. Roger Howard, Planner, Rice Development Corp., has applied for a building permit under the Building Code Act, 1992 for the construction of a new, detached dwelling unit, including an on-site sewage system at Part of Lot 7, Concession 7, Town of Innisfil, County of Simcoe, Ontario.

  1. Description of Construction/Site Description

The Applicant is proposing to construct a 2 storey, Group C occupancy, dwelling unit with a total finished area of 201 m2 (2,163 ft2). The proposed residential structure is to contain four bedrooms and twenty fixtures units. The estimated daily design flow is 2,100 litres per day.

The subject sewage system proposes a conventional septic tank with a buried intermittent sand filter and a shallow buried trench distribution system. The system operates by clarifying the effluent by separating the liquids from the solids, as they pass from the septic tank into the sand filter. This is achieved by use of the screened pump vault found in the pump chamber of the septic tank.

The effluent is to be discharged in timed doses continually throughout the day from the septic tank to the top of the sand filter through a series of 25 mm (1 in.) diameter pressurized pipes. The pipes have perforations every 600 mm (23 5/8 in.) which are covered by an orifice shield that is designed to direct the effluent discharge downwards into the filter. The sand filter itself will be either a plywood or concrete box lined with 30 mm PVC impervious liner, installed below grade and then covered with topsoil and grass. The proposed system is designed so that the quality of effluent after filtration will be less than 10/10 BOD and total suspended solids. From the sand filter, the treated effluent will be collected in the pump basin and discharged in timed intervals to the leaching bed.

The leaching bed will be composed of two shallow buried trenches 20 metres (65 ft., 8 in.) long, placed 1.5 metres (4 ft., 11 in.) apart. The length of trench (40 metres (131 ft., 3 in.)) was arrived at by utilizing the formula of Q/75 where Q is the design sewage flow rate of 2,100 litres per day. The trenches will be approximately 300 mm (12 in.) deep and 300 mm (12 in.) wide. They will employ the chamber system design that uses a horizontally sliced 300 mm (12 in.) diameter pipe with a 25 mm (1 in.) pressurized distribution pipe running the entire length of the chamber. The distribution pipe is perforated every 600 mm (23 5/8 in.), with the perforations oriented upwards.

Both pumps in the proposed system are 1/2 horse power and are equipped with an audio-visual alarm. The timers are programmable to customize for actual water use.

While information was not provided concerning the hydrogeological conditions of the specific site in dispute (Lot 7), material was supplied regarding the larger 24.9 ha property within which the site is situated. The subject property is heavily wooded and the soils are described as variable but can generally be grouped into the following categories; silt and sand materials, silty sand material, clean sand, or sand and gravel material. The estimated percolation rates for these soil categories are; 25 to 35 min/cm approximately for the silt and sand material, 15 to 25 min/cm for the silty sand material the rate is 15 to 25 min/cm, and 60 to 15 min/cm for the clean sand or sand and gravel material. The sand and gravel areas are confined or semi-confined pockets found beneath the till. Underneath the overburden materials is limestone bedrock.

On the lower lying portions of the property there are areas where the ground water table is considered to be high, but for most of the site the water table is encountered at 1.5 metres or lower. The elevated ground water table is not an issue concerning the subject site, however. The water supply for the property is provided by piped municipal service.

The topography of the subject site, as shown on the submitted lot diagrams, is relatively flat in the north east portion. There is a fairly steep slope on the southern half of the lot, while the north western area has a gradual slope. The proposed sewage system would utilize this gradual slope in the north western quadrant, and the shallow buried trenches would be arranged so that they would be level within this slope.

  1. Dispute

The issue at dispute between the Applicant and Respondent concerns whether the proposed residential sewage system that includes a shallow buried trench distribution system located in the Town of Innisfil may be permitted when considering Article 8.7.6.1. of the Ontario Building Code. This provision permits shallow buried trenches only in three geographic areas of Ontario, specifically the Counties of Essex and Lambton and the Municipality of Chatham-Kent.

  1. Provisions of the Ontario Building Code

Article 8.7.6.1.Limitation on Installation

(1) Except as provided in Sentence (2), a shallow buried trench shall not be installed.

(2) A shallow buried trench may be installed in the geographic areas of the Counties of Essex and Lambton and the Municipality of Chatham-Kent. (See Appendix A.)

  1. Applicant's Position

The Applicant submitted that the proposed sewage system will satisfy the construction requirements for shallow buried trench distribution systems found in Article 8.7.6.2. of the OBC. In their view, the proposal will meet the general health and safety standards for sewage systems found in the Code. As such, they argued that the geographic limitation on shallow buried trench distribution systems found in Article 8.7.6.1. of the OBC is unnecessary. In fact, they believe their system, with shallow buried trenches placed in the subject soil, will provide a better level of effluent treatment than required by the OBC.

Shallow buried trenches, as a system of effluent distribution, have a proven track record, the Applicants argued. The technology is not in question, it has been shown to work. As they noted, this system is recognized under the Ontario Building Code.

The Applicant stated that shallow buried trenches have existed since the 1970s and have been proven to work in many jurisdictions with a wide variety of soil types, even those with cold climates. As a result, they argued that their was no technical reason for the geographic limitation of shallow buried trenches. The decision to restrict these systems to the three designated areas was based on politics, and not on the technical competency of the systems, they asserted.

The Applicants also noted that shallow buried trenches have been permitted in many jurisdictions in Ontario outside of the three areas listed in the OBC. As examples, they submitted a recent favourable decision of the Environmental Appeal Board regarding an individual who made application for a sewage system permit under the Environmental Protection Act (EPA). The applicant in that case was seeking to install a shallow buried trench system to serve a single detached dwelling in the Regional Municipality of York. As well, a recent Ministry of Environment Certificate of Approval permitting a shallow buried trench distribution system for a dining/clubhouse facility at a Golf Course in Guelph was presented by the Applicants as further evidence of the Ontario-wide use of these systems. In this case, the subject facility was considered to have a daily design flow of 10,500 L/day and thus was still considered under the jurisdiction of the EPA.

In summation, the Applicants argued that a shallow buried trench system should be allowed at the subject site, and across Ontario. In their view, the environment, home builders and the house buying public would be better served if shallow buried trenches were permitted.

  1. Chief Building Official's Position

The Respondent submitted that Sentence 8.7.6.1.(2) of the OBC is clear, shallow buried trenches are only permitted in the geographic areas of the Counties of Essex and Lambton and the Municipality of Lambton-Kent. The proposed shallowed buried trench system is not located in any of these areas. They noted though that the shallow buried trench system of sewage disposal does have merit. According to the Respondent, however, approval of such a system is beyond their jurisdiction.

  1. Commission Ruling

It is the decision of the Building Code Commission that the matter of this dispute is beyond its jurisdiction as described in Section 24(1) of the Building Code Act, 1992.

  1. Reasons

i)The powers of the Building Code Commission, outlined in Section 24(1) of the Building Code Act, 1992, are limited to resolving issues involving the interpretation of the technical requirements of the Building Code or the sufficiency of compliance with the technical requirements of the Building Code. It is the opinion of the Building Code Commission that the Building Code requirement that limits the installation of shallow buried trenches to the counties of Essex and Lambton and the municipality of Chatham-Kent (Sentence 8.7.6.1.(2)) is not a technical requirement but is an administrative requirement representing a policy decision by the Lieutenant Governor in Council to limit their installation to specific geographic locations.

While the matter of this dispute is beyond the Commission's jurisdiction, in reference to the arguments which were made, it is the Commission's opinion that the equivalency provisions of the Building Code Section 2.7 cannot be applied. Shallow buried trenches are an authorized system in specific locations under the Building Code and Section 9 of the Building Code Act, 1992 permits the use of equivalent systems only where they are not authorized by the Building Code.

ii)It is the opinion of the Building Code Commission that an amendment to the Building Code would be required to permit the installation of shallow buried trenches outside of the specified geographic locations.

Dated at Toronto this 29th day in the month of July in the year 1998 for application number 1998-28.

Mr. Roy Philippe, Chair

Mr. Michael Lio

Mr. Frank Wright