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Changes Coming for Local Delivery of Activities Related to Onsite Sewage Systems

Last revised/updated:  February 29, 2024

Changes are coming to the permitting and inspection process for septic systems in the City and County of Peterborough. After November 17, 2024, Peterborough Public Health (PPH) will no longer oversee the delivery of these services in the region as responsibility for permitting and inspections are transferred to local municipalities  See the “Frequently Asked Questions” section below for more information.


1.  Why won’t Peterborough Public Health be delivering the Safe Sewage Disposal Program (SSDP) in 2024?
We are one of only 11 Public Health Units (out of 34) that currently administer the program. For this reason, the Board of Health voted to discontinue the service agreement when it expires in November 2024. This change will allow Peterborough Public Health (PPH) to focus on our core work, as mandated by the Ontario Public Health Standards.

2.  Am I still required to have a permit to install a septic system?
Yes. Compliance with the Ontario Building Code ( O. Reg. 332/12 made under the Ontario Building Code Act, S.O. 1992, c. 23) is still required. However, it will be up to the responsibility of the local authority to ensure compliance with the Act. This includes inspections, maintenance inspections or re-inspections, renovations, permitting, etc. The ‘local authority’ will be the local municipality/township building department.

3.  What key dates do I need to be aware of?
Transition is happening at slightly different stages for each municipality.

April 1, 2024

The following municipalities will receive all new applications related to onsite sewage systems:

    • Township of Cavan Monaghan
    • Township of Otonabee-South Monaghan
    • Township of Selwyn
    • Municipality of Trent Lakes
  • Peterborough Public Health will continue to provide services for open and outstanding permits and applications submitted prior to April 1, 2024 for the municipalities listed above.
  • Peterborough Public Health will continue to provide all services for Asphodel-Norwood, Havelock-Belmont-Methuen and the City of Peterborough.

November 17, 2024

Last day of any/all services provided by Peterborough Public Health related to onsite sewage systems.

November 18, 2024

  • The City of Peterborough, Asphodel-Norwood and Havelock-Belmont-Methuen will receive all new applications and activities related to onsite sewage systems.
  • All local municipalities will complete inspections for open applications and activities, previously submitted through Peterborough Public Health.
  • All general inquiries about onsite sewage disposal will need to be directed to the local regulatory authority (i.e., the municipality).

4.  I’ve recently purchased this house/cottage and am looking for a copy of the septic permit(s) for this property …

I can’t remember where our septic bed is located …

I think my septic bed has failed …

I am adding an addition to my house and need a bigger septic system …

Please see the answer from Question 3 and direct your inquiry accordingly. After the transition date for each Township, all files from PPH will be transferred to the local municipality and they will be able to assist you.

Are you looking for a qualified professional to design, install, or service your septic system, or assist with your permit application? If so, you can consult the Ontario Onsite Wastewater Association (OOWA) Directory of Professionals to locate service providers in your area to assist you.

Click here to learn about the process of approvals and permitting for septic systems.

Here is a Homeowner’s Guide to a Healthy Sewage (Septic) System, that you can save on your phone or print out and post at your home or cottage.

OOWA’s website also includes property owner resources including: how a septic system works, guidance when buying or selling a rural property, and information about septic tank additives.

Sewage System Building Permits

  • Permit for Class 4 Sewage System, design capacity less than or equal to 4500 litres per day ($1000)
  • Permit for Class 4 Sewage System, design capacity greater than 4500 litres per day and less than 10,000 litres per day ($1450)
  • Permit for Class 4 Sewage System Tank Replacement Only ($400)
  • Permit for Class 5 Sewage System (Holding Tank) ($1000)
  • Permit for Class 3 Sewage System (Cesspool) ($500)
  • Permit for Class 2 Sewage System (Greywater System) Sewage System ($500)
  • System Permit for Filter Bed repair, replacement or extension of 6 square metres or less ($500)
  • Transfer of permit to a new owner ($375)

Change of Use Permit (Existing)

  • Existing System Inspection (Sewage Systems Permit for change of use or building addition, comments on minor variance, or rezoning) ($400)

Rezoning or Minor Variance

  • Rezoning or minor variance comments requiring a site visit ($250)
  • Rezoning or minor variance comments not requiring a site visit ($0)
  • Site-specific Official Plan Amendments ($0)

Severance or Subdivision Comments

  • First lot ($300)
  • Each additional lot ($150)

Severance or Subdivision Re-inspection

  • First lot ($300)
  • Each additional lot ($150)


  • Copies of Archived permits ($35)

File Search

  • File search (e.g., Lawyer, real estate), copies & letter ($125)


Information Package
Your Septic System Friend
Class 1 Sewage Systems
Class 2 Sewage Systems


Installation or Alteration
Inspection of Existing Septic Systems
Copy of Sewage System and/or Installation Report

Public Communication for Lot Creation - 2021 12 08

Why have a sewage system re-inspection program?

Sewage system re-inspections help to ensure that waste is properly treated. The program is a proactive step in ensuring safe drinking water, protecting our ecosystems and keeping our lakes clean and healthy. Poorly designed, installed or maintained systems can have serious environmental and health impacts.

What are the types of re-inspection programs?

In the City and County of Peterborough, there are two types of re-inspection programs, mandatory and municipal.

Mandatory: In the Mandatory Maintenance Inspection Program set out under the Ontario Building Code, the principal authority is required to conduct inspections of on-site sewage systems that are or will be a significant drinking water threat.  These systems are located in certain “vulnerable areas” identified in source protection plans ( prepared under the Clean Water Act. Locally, the Trent Conservation Coalition Source Protection Committee has identified vulnerable areas on maps in the Trent Assessment Report which is part of the Trent Source Protection Plan. Otonabee Conservation has provided Peterborough Public Health (PPH) with the location of the affected properties. There are 124 sewage systems in the County of Peterborough that require re-inspection every five years.  

Municipal: In the municipal re-inspection program, municipalities have decided and passed by-laws to conduct re-inspections of sewage systems that are not part of the mandatory re-inspections.  Municipalities can engage either private service providers, or in the case of PPH, a public organization which is independently audited and accountable to the general public. For the past three years, PPH has been conducting these re-inspections for the Municipality of Trent Lakes.

What is the cost of the re-inspection program?

The cost of the mandatory inspection program is distributed equitably across the County. The fee for both the mandatory and municipal re-inspections is $325 (including tax) per property. For approximately 85-90% of the properties, only one site visit is required for a sewage re-inspection certificate to be issued to the homeowner. However, some properties require two, three or even four visits, with no additional fees charged.

The total cost of the program was proposed and accepted by the Board of Health and the County and City of Peterborough prior to deciding on the fee per household and is based on a full cost recovery model. That is, all revenue from the sewage re-inspections covers the expenses solely for the re-inspection programs and not for the main sewage program or any other public health programs and services PPH delivers. All excess revenues, are put into a reserve fund to be used for potential legal fees, increases in costs and to offset any deficit in any other year. All statements are audited yearly by an independent accounting firm.

A breakdown of the fees is found in the table below.


Allocation of fee (% of fee)

Professional Staff (Salaries and Benefits)

$223 (68 %)

Administration and occupancy

$54 (17%)

Program Travel

$24 (7%)

Purchased services (e.g., memberships, legal fees)

$16 (5%)

Materials, supplies and program resources

$8 (3%)


$325 (100%)

What does a re-inspection consist of?

For the municipal re-inspection programs, only properties with septic systems that are 10 years old or older and have a capacity of less than 10,000 litres will be inspected. Inspections consist of the following steps:

  1. Residents will receive a letter from PPH advising that their system is to be inspected.  Included in the letter will be a questionnaire for property owners to complete regarding the status and use of their system, i.e. age of system, number of toilets, location, etc.
  2. Residents return the questionnaire to PPH, who will then schedule a “Phase 1” inspection. 
  3. Residents are not required to be present for the inspection (but can be present if requested). Property owners are responsible for ensuring that the septic system is accessible for inspection. This will require the removal of soil to ensure access to the lids or access hatches of the septic tank. 

What is a Phase 1 inspection?

If you have a septic tank, the lids or access hatches must be exposed for this inspection. PPH staff will remove the lids and complete an internal inspection of the septic tank observing the levels and composition of sewage as well as the condition of the tank. The leaching bed will be inspected for signs of failure such as breakout of sewage to the ground, saturated soil, excessively green grass, sewage odours, etc., and risks to the sewage system such as encroachments of structures, trees, and additional sources of water (such as downspouts).

If you have a different type of sewage system (e.g. outhouse and leaching pit), the system(s) will be inspected to ensure compliance with the Ontario Building Code and to ensure that the sewage systems are not creating or are not likely to create a health hazard.

What happens when my septic system “passes” the Phase 1 inspection?

You receive a Re-inspection Certificate from Peterborough Public Health that is valid for five years under the mandatory and 10 years under the municipal re-inspection programs.

What happens if my septic system does not “pass” the Phase 1 inspection?

Your property will proceed to Phase 2 which may include:

  • Pumping the septic tank;
  • Dye-testing the system; and/or
  • Excavation of the leaching bed area.

Phase 2 follow-up will be required when the Phase 1 inspection identifies signs or evidence that the sewage system may be failing or close to failure.

Why is Peterborough Public Health doing these re-inspections?

PPH has been doing sewage inspections and re-inspections in the County and City of Peterborough since 1967. The current agreement ensures that PPH operates at arm’s length from both Councils, is responsible for the determination and collection of fees for service and ensures Councils are free from liability or any litigation associated with sewage systems inspections and re-inspections.

Who at PPH does these inspections?

PPH has Certified Public Health Inspectors (PHIs) with greater than 40 years combined experience, who have been educated at accredited post-secondary institutions in addition to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs sewage qualifications.  They have specialized scientific knowledge of sewage and sewage treatment. Educating professionals and property owners is a mandate of PHIs. Furthermore, in addition to PHIs issuing Orders under the Building Code Act, PHIs can also issue orders under the Health Protection and Promotion Act (s. 13 Health Hazard Order) thereby obtaining timely resolution of problems and further protecting the health of all residents.

Where can I get further information?

For questions about local septic re-inspections, please contact a Public Health Inspector in the Safe Sewage program at 705-743-1000, ext. 228.

For an excellent video on caring for septic systems featuring one of Peterborough Public Health’s PHIs, please click here.

For further information about technical standards relating to septic re-inspections, please click here.

For details about septic re-inspections provided by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, please click here