Grandfathering, what is Grandfathering.

The past two weeks I have heard the phrase “grandfathering” a few times with respect to septic systems. First of all I’ll explain the term.  According to Wikipedia, a grandfather clause is a provision in which an old rule continues to apply to some existing situations, while a new rule will apply to all future cases. I thought I would clear up this idea that if an acreage has an existing septic system, regardless of its condition it will be “grandfathered”. I will tell you that I spoke first hand with a public health inspector in Saskatchewan and this concept of grandfathering is way overrated.

The concept that an unsafe and unhealthy septic system is “OK” is not accurate. The only time a grandfathering clause can be invoked is when the old system is not posing a health or safety concern to the public or to the environment. I can tell you that some of the systems I have inspected in the past two weeks are neither safe nor healthy. If the seller is telling you the system is existing and therefore grandfathered you had better get that in writing from the authority having jurisdiction or you may end up with a very large bill when you have to install a new system.

As an onsite waste water design consultant I have some insight into what constitutes a proper sewage system. These systems are no longer a metal barrel dropped into a hole with an overflow  pipe running down the hill. You will need a design plan before even being granted a permit to install a new system. The requirements are stringent and the costs to install a system that will be safe and effective are large. So before you sign on the dotted line be sure to give some thought to this.  As always I am here to help if I can.