The Owner of Canada’s B.C. Septic Pro Networks With Other Onsite Experts

New to the onsite industry, Jesse Brown relied on two experienced pros for advice. He still considers them integral to his operation.

The Owner of Canada’s B.C. Septic Pro Networks With Other Onsite Experts

During an install, Jesse Brown, left, confers with Shaun Nuttall, a pump consultant with Suncoast Waterworks, in a bed of Eljen GSF treatment modules. (Photos by Taehoon Kim)

Interested in Business?

Get Business articles, news and videos right in your inbox! Sign up now.

Business + Get Alerts

Customers hiring BC Septic Pro for onsite system installation don’t just get the expertise of owner Jesse Brown.

They also get the combined 60 years’ experience of system designer Steve Warren and mechanical engineer Burt Telder. Brown tapped into their industry knowledge when he founded his business just three years ago. He still relies on them for advice when designing and building systems amid the challenging conditions of soils and steep slopes in his service area.

“Their experience is priceless,” Brown says. “The three of us working together come up with better systems. Three brains are better than one. We really push to get the very best system for the homeowner without charging them exorbitant amounts.”

Brown also relies on a contractor, H&H Excavation, for all his earth-moving tasks. Brown doesn’t own any such equipment; he prefers not to bear the costs to finance, store, insure, maintain and repair machinery. Chris McLaughlin, his only full-time team member, helps with installations.

BC Septic Pro designs or installs 60 to 70 systems per year in areas of coastal Southwest British Columbia: the narrow 100-mile-long Okanagan Valley, and the Sunshine Coast, a 40-mile-long peninsula within Vancouver served by just one north-south highway.


Brown’s path into the onsite sector is unique: He was previously an osteopath, offering a manual form of therapy that emphasizes the relationship between the structure and function of the human body. He entered that career out of a desire to help people. While studying for that profession, he worked with an uncle who had an excavation business and installed septic systems.

After 18 years in a health care clinic, Brown was looking for a change. “I couldn’t stand working inside anymore,” he recalls. “An older gentleman was doing septic system engineering for my house. I was fascinated watching him doing perc tests and grabbing soil samples, and chatting with me about flows.

“I’m very close to the ocean at my house, so it seemed like he was exceptionally careful. I kept picking his brain. One day he said, ‘You seem really into this whole thing. Why don’t you go back to school and become a septic designer?’ When I looked into it, I saw that it was really quite manageable.”

Most of the schooling was online; he completed the required courses, passed his exams, and was on his way. Now he works outdoors almost every day. Along the way, Brown also completed three years of studies at the Building Biology Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to become a building biologist.

That helps him take a holistic approach when designing systems for homeowners. Building Biology is about building homes and developing properties to be as healthy as possible, such as by using natural materials, minimizing chemicals and providing ample ventilation. “A properly functioning septic system is vital to that,” says Brown. 


As Brown ramped up his onsite business, he accepted an offer from designer Warren, who wanted to retire, to take over his clientele. Rather than buy him out, Brown engaged him as a consultant. He then did the same for engineer Telder, who was also retiring.

Their advice was valuable because simple septic system designs are uncommon in the area. “It’s not like putting systems in a nice grassy farm field,” says Brown. “The properties are on bedrock, on mountain slopes, right close to the ocean, very close to a lake.

“The beautiful thing about both these guys is that they mentored me. They really wanted to help me get up and going. When I get a job where I don’t know what I should do, I call them up, and they get a consultation fee. They didn’t push for that, but I did. I wanted to make sure their hard work over the years wasn’t for nothing — that they could pass on their knowledge and experience to someone still wet behind the ears.”

The most challenging terrain is on the Sunshine Coast, where the vertical separation is usually limited to 18 to 24 inches. Both consultants urged Brown to favor gravity flow over pressure distribution as more affordable for homeowners. “As one of them said, gravity never fails,” Brown observes. “Pumps, alarms, gauges and mechanical parts will at some point fail, so if you can get away with gravity, go with gravity.”


On sites with small vertical separation, Brown relies on Ecoflo biofilter systems (Premier Tech), which use passive filtration through natural coconut husk media. “That’s my go-to,” Brown says. “TSS and BOD levels are so low coming out of the filter that I can put it on very small vertical separation. The great thing about the Ecoflo systems is that I can put them right on the ground. I don’t need to excavate to sink them in.”

He also uses some Eljen GSF treatment modules, which are made up of geotextile fabric and a plastic core material that work together to provide vertical surface area and oxygen transfer. The system applies treated effluent to the soil, increasing its long-term acceptance rate. A sand layer provides more filtration. He recently began using BIOROCK compact and non-electric residential wastewater treatment systems.

In the Okanagan Valley and to some extent on the Sunshine Coast, steep mountain slopes create challenges. “I often run into 15- to 30-degree slopes, so there’s quite a bit more excavation and leveling,” Brown says “We’re regulated on the amount of fill we can use to put a septic system in.

“That’s where Ecoflo and Eljen mats come in handy. They keep the area of infiltration very small,” he continues. Brown can fit an infiltration bed in 250 square feet to serve an average three-bedroom, 2,000-square-foot home with a flow of about 320 gpd. Native plants help stabilize the slopes that have been disturbed.

High bedrock at times calls for blasting to create an opening for septic tanks. “Then we have to blast to install the effluent lines and lift the effluent up to near the house, where you might get a little bit flatter bench for a gravity drainfield,” says Brown. He uses Goulds pumps for most applications. Provincial standards of practice require an effluent filter on each system; BC Septic Pro uses Polylok filters.


As for drainfields, the high bedrock often calls for a bed of C33 mound sand and washed three-fourths-inch crushed rock. Provincial regulations limit the depth for building up a treatment bed. “With the sand we get excellent bacterial growth,” says Brown. “The amount of surface area in it is massive. The drain rock also provides great surface area along with excellent drainage. I add the C33 sand first and then the crushed rock on top of the sand.

H&H Excavation digs the holes and helps set the tanks. Brown’s two consultants advised him that finances would work better if he focused design and installation and left the excavation to a specialist.

“So far it makes sense,” says Brown. “Marty knows what he’s doing. He is a registered installer. I can design the system, but when we get to the site and start working on it, we may discover that the design isn’t quite right. Marty knows how to make it work. I can leave the job site; he can finish it off and I know that it’s done properly.”


That’s important because the British Columbia government strictly enforces environmental regulations. “For pretty much anything related to septic systems, the owner has to work with a Registered Onsite Wastewater Professional,” says Brown. A perc test and soil samples are required. The local health department must sign off on the design.

When the system is complete, the ROWP sends the health department a letter certifying that it was installed according to the design. If the design was changed during the install process, new drawings must be submitted with an explanation why the change was made.

Health departments do not inspect the systems. “We are our own inspectors,” says Brown. “We are held to a pretty high standard. If a system fails, or water gets polluted, and they trace it back to your system, you are in hot water.”

About 90% of the company’s systems are sold through building contractors, for whom the two consultants provided connections. Brown also relies on word of mouth and on leaving business cards and brochures at building supply stores. He adds, “The biggest marketing technique I’ve learned is just to answer my phone.”

Brown encourages installers to reach out to experienced professionals for advice and to compensate them fairly: “It will save a whole lot of hassle and lawsuits if you work with people who have been there and done it.

“Ecology is everything. We all live on this planet. It’s our home. The biggest pollutants that come out of a house are from the septic system. We’re guardians of each person’s property. We’re wardens of people’s homes and we’re responsible for the environment in our own little way. By using the best standards and keeping things as clean as possible, we’re doing our part to keep our planet and our homes as clean as possible.” 


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.