East Hants septic service operator calls on MEH, HRM to create waste disposal sites in own areas

Due to the capacity problem of the septic tank at GFL, many septic companies like E&S Septic have no room to dump the waste, so they stop making appointments, putting their customers in a bind. (Submitted photo)

ELMSDALE: The owner of an East Hants wastewater disposal service is calling on the East Hants City Council and HRM to set up disposal sites in their own communities.

Mike Powell of E&S Septic has voiced his concerns in the past, long before GFL in Windsor recently sent emails to local waste disposal companies advising them that they were encountering operational issues and could not accept sludge from outside.

“There are lagoons and potential landfills here in our community,” Powell said in an interview with The Laker News. “It would be ideal to support a local waste facility in East Hants and keep money and jobs here in East Hants.”

“It would also reduce travel time and probably also reduce disposal costs. This in turn would reduce the costs incurred by domestic wastewater disposal customers.”

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He said waste management facilities outside of East Hants (such as GFL, Amherst, Lunenberg) should always have been considered as backup and never as a primary landfill solution.

“I raised these concerns two years ago with the East Hants community, which was looking for a local landfill,” he said. “These concerns were never addressed, and the recent closure has raised even more concerns that could have been prevented years ago.”

The other two known local septic companies affected are Snook's in the Beaver Bank area and Hilchie's Environmental Septic in the Fall River/Windsor Junction area.

For E&S Septic, GFL was the primary disposal site due to its location relative to most of its customers in East Hants.

“It was much cheaper (compared to Halifax Water’s disposal site at Aerotech),” he said.

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In a news release Friday, Halifax Water said it had worked with the Halifax Regional Municipality to develop a short-term solution to address concerns about capacity constraints in the private septic tank wastewater treatment system.

From 24 June, private sewage sludge disposal companies can dispose of their sewage sludge loads at a safe, monitored landfill that complies with legal regulations.

This site, adjacent to Aerotech's wastewater treatment plant, will be available for up to three weeks to mitigate the impact of an unexpected mechanical failure at a private facility.

Halifax Water said this was in response to concerns raised about capacity constraints in private and public systems and the result of discussions between Halifax Water, the Halifax Regional Municipality and Nova Scotia Environment and Climate Change (NSECC) about ways to reduce these pressures.

“Private septic tanks are the responsibility of property owners and are regulated by the NSECC with specific guidelines,” said Kenda MacKenzie, acting general manager of Halifax Water in a press release. “However, both the municipality and Halifax Water understand the importance of septic tank pumping services for residential and commercial properties to protect health, safety and the environment.”

Halifax Water will prepare the site over the next few days and open it to wastewater haulers on Monday, June 24.

Location Directly across from 449 Aerotech Drive
opening hours Working days (except public holidays) 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The press release said that as part of this process, sludge transporters would have to sign an agreement with Halifax Water stating that each operator would have to accept and meet certain terms and requirements before the utility would accept sludge for disposal.

Starting Monday, June 24, private water suppliers can call Halifax Water's customer service line or visit here.

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Powell no longer offers residential septic tank pumping services.

“It affects my income and also my customer base,” he said.

“This was not an easy decision for me, but I cannot offer customers a fair price because other options are either far away (gas and time costs) or disposal is twice as expensive (Halifax Water site).”

He said he tries not to book clients too far in advance, but since June 17, he has had to decline/turn away about 60 potential residential sewage pumping jobs this week.

What is Powell's plan for the future until a solution is found?

“My plan for the foreseeable future is to continue renting portable toilets and to be available only in emergency situations (household backup, etc.) for customers with private septic systems,” he said.

“I own 75 portable toilets that I rent to construction sites, events and city parks. I will continue to honor these toilet rentals and contracts.”

Deputy Mayor Cathy Deagle Gammon, Councilwoman Pam Lovelace, and Hants East MP John A. MacDonald and Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank MP Brian Wong each contributed input on this topic.

According to Hilchie's posts, Deagle Gammon and Lovelace are following the issue closely and “conscientiously searching for answers.”

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