Fire and Water


Vulnerable Ground Water

One presentation at a recent Conservation Authority session on vulnerable ground water showed that South Frontenac is one of three “hot spots” in Ontario for contaminated ground water.  The study added to previous work that mapped the extensive areas of vulnerable ground water in South Frontenac.

Early results, using genetic analysis on bacteria in our ground water, indicate that the main cause of the contamination is human waste, primarily from septic systems.  A much larger study in the United States, using a similar technique, found that areas with high septic system concentrations had the highest rates of water human waste contamination.  The 2015 U.S. study can be read at:


Water Quality Protection

Council continues to wander around options to protect ground and lake water from septic systems.

Our Chief Building Official (CBO) surprised the Corporate Services Committee by suggesting that many of the ideas raised in the last few years for septic system inspection may not be legal, that is outside of the scope of Council. The suggestions may not be allowed under the Building Code. While there is considerable debate around what can be done, other Townships are introducing septic system programs to protect their ground and lake water.

The CBO also informed the Committee that the Province has introduced an amendment to the Building Code that would make it mandatory to have sceptic tanks pumped at least every five years.  The wording of the proposed amendment can be read at:

If the province passes this amendment, it would create more options for a Township program.  Since most people already have their systems pumped at least every five years any cost increase would be small, just enough to fill in a form that the tank was pumped.  For the Township, there would be relatively small data entry and education costs.  A program focused on regular pumping would also identify potential high risk septic systems for further attention.

A discussion at Council found that most Councillors were opposed to supporting the proposed amendment to the Building Code. A positive step for those interested in protecting our ground and lake water quality would be to write to the Provincial Government and encourage the passing of the building code amendment on septic system pumping. Send your comments to:  Bill Mauro, Minister of Municipal Affairs,


Air Quality Protection

Some Verona residents raised concerns about air pollution from outdoor wood furnaces.  The Corporate Services Committee is now considering this issue.  The Committee meetings are open to the public with the agendas and minutes posted on the Council website.

There are many reasons to support wood burning as a source of heat.  There is also little doubt that the conventional outdoor wood furnaces produce a lot of smoke and particulate pollution.  The smouldering burn in these conventional furnaces is the primary cause of the pollution.

One option being discussed is to permit a type of outdoor wood furnace that uses a method called “gasification” that burns much cleaner and has the added benefit of using substantially less wood.   This option would allow existing conventional units in hamlets to continue but when they are replaced they would have to be replaced with a “gasification “unit.  In rural areas, the proposal would allow new conventional units if they were located a significant distance from property lines.

I would like to hear your thoughts on this proposal and any other ideas on outdoor wood furnaces. The Corporate Services Committee will make a recommendation to Council. If Council wants to change the rules on outdoor wood furnaces a public hearing would have to take place before any bylaw changes could be made. In other words, we have time for a full discussion.


New Planning-Development Manager

The Township has finally hired a Planning and Development Manger, Forbes Simon.  He has a wealth of experience in rural municipal planning.  As discussed in previous posts, South Frontenac has a multitude of planning and development issues, from the application and approval process to the need to make the Township the final approval authority for subdivisions.  It is a relief to have the full staff compliment in our planning and building department.


About Ross Sutherland

retired nurse, researcher, public health care activist.
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