Pump Chamber Setbacks Would Help Preserve Canada’s Clean Inland Waters

A member of the Ontario Onsite Wastewater Association promotes a regulation that would protect an important resource

Pump Chamber Setbacks Would Help Preserve Canada’s Clean Inland Waters

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In Snapshot, we talk to a member of a state, provincial or national trade association in the decentralized wastewater industry. This time we visit a member of the Ontario Onsite Wastewater Association.

Name and title or job description: Danielle Ward, onsite wastewater specialist

Business name and location: Adams Brothers Construction, Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada

Services we offer: We do septic design, installation, inspection and pumping, and provide diagnostic and consultation services.

Age: 27

Years in the industry: 5

Association involvement: I am a member of the Ontario Onsite Wastewater Association, currently serve on the board of directors and as treasurer.

Benefits of belonging to the association: Education and training, assisting others in the onsite wastewater industry, and the annual convention, which is a great event.

Our crew includes: We have several different crews and team members. Each individual is a huge part of our team, from laborers, truck drivers, equipment operators and many more. Without our team we wouldn’t be able to accomplish what we do and serve our community.

Typical day on the job: My day starts with organizing and getting crews going to their job sites. If it’s a new site, we go and set everything up to get them started. During the rest of the day, I could be doing septic permits and designs, diagnosing a system with a problem, looking at new building sites or replacement systems, or doing inspections.

The job I’ll never forget: We have dug up and replaced some pretty interesting sewage systems. Back in the day there were some weird things used as septic tanks and buried in the ground — old trash containers, 30-foot steel tanks that looked like torpedoes, and even a Volkswagen Beetle. 

My favorite piece of equipment: That has to be my RIDGID sewer camera. It helps with diagnosing systems and finding problems, it saves a lot of dig time — and it saves the homeowner money.

Most challenging site I’ve worked on: We are in a beautiful area with a lot of bedrock. The most challenging sites are mostly bedrock with little native soil and homeowners wanting to put a large building on them. They typically end up with a treatment unit that takes up less room. We have to get creative with design and placement so homeowners can build their dream home and have an aesthetically presentable septic system.

Oops, I wish I could take this one back: We had a job site where the homeowner’s cottage was beside a massive rock cut. A giant boulder about 6 feet wide broke off the rock cut and landed right on top of the pump chamber and crushed it into the ground. The homeowner had beautiful landscaping and no access to the pump chamber with an excavator by land. We agreed to break the rock with air hammers and remove it. Eventually we craned a 1.8-ton excavator in to install the new chamber. But I don’t think any of our guys ever want to use an air hammer again.

The craziest question I’ve been asked by a customer: I’ve had customers ask why they can’t just run a pipe from their sewage line in the house to the lake.

If I could change one industry regulation, it would be: I would add a regulation for pump chambers to have some sort of setback to bodies of water. We see so many pumps fail and the pump chamber is so close to a body of water that it overflows and runs into the lake. Having high level alarms certainly helps to avoid this — however, sometimes it still happens. If a setback can’t be met for a building such as a boat house, then the pump chamber should be in a large watertight compartment. 

Best piece of small business advice I’ve heard: I received advice from a former employer and have always carried it with me — the Golden Rule should be applied not only in life, but in business practices as well. Treat your employees and co-workers the way you would want to be treated. If the Golden Rule is consistently practiced, your employees will be more productive, enthusiastic and loyal. Knowing your employees and co-workers enjoy coming to their job every day makes for a very positive workplace.

If I wasn’t working in the wastewater industry, I would: Hopefully be a full-time firefighter. Currently I am a volunteer. That is the career I would certainly pursue if I wasn’t in the wastewater industry.

Crystal ball time – This is my outlook for the wastewater industry: I see the wastewater industry utilizing technology more and systems becoming more advanced. With residential lots getting smaller and buildings getting larger, I see a much higher need for these types of systems and believe that one day conventional systems will be far outnumbered by technology. 


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