Here you will find important detail about how to become a Registered Onsite Wastewater Practitioner, an outline of the regulatory framework for onsite sewerage in BC, and an introduction to onsite wastewater systems.
If you have any questions or require further information please do not hesitate to contact us.
Certification as a Registered Onsite Wastewater Practitioner
The Sewerage System Regulation specifies that only Authorized Persons (or an owner supervised by an Authorized Person) may construct or maintain onsite sewage treatment and dispersal systems. A person is qualified to act as an Authorized Person only if the person holds a registration certificate issued by the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of British Columbia (ASTTBC), or is registered as a Professional by an association such as the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC.
To meet the requirements of the Sewerage System Regulation, ASTTBC certifies Authorized Persons as Registered Onsite Wastewater Practitioners (ROWP). The allowable scope of ROWP practice is defined within four categories of certification: Installer, Maintenance Provider, Planner, and Private Inspector. ROWPs may be certified in one or more categories.
ROWP Installers: responsible for the physical installation and repair of onsite wastewater systems, in accordance with the specifications provided by a ROWP Planner or a Professional.
ROWP Planners: responsible for the assessment of site and soil conditions, system designs, construction reviews, and the certification of system construction.
ROWP Maintenance Providers: responsible for maintenance of onsite wastewater systems in accordance with maintenance plans provided by a ROWP Planner or a Professional.
ROWP Private Inspectors: responsible for the assessment of existing systems, typically to support real estate transactions or building permit applications.
The Onsite Wastewater Certification Board establishes ROWP certification requirements and determines certification approval. To achieve ROWP certification, individuals must demonstrate specific foundational knowledge, achieve experience under the oversight of an Authorized Person, submit work example documents for review, provide references and successfully complete examinations.
Achieving ROWP certification can be a daunting task. Achieving the required work experience is difficult. Applicants cannot provide services to clients unless they are under the supervision of an Authorized Person. Most Authorized Persons are reluctant to “train competition.”
We can help. Our fully qualified Authorized Persons provide individualised mentoring to achieve the work experience requirements under the oversight of an Authorized Person, and technical support to create example work document submissions that comply with the Sewerage System Standard Practice Manual and ASTTBC ROWP Practice Guidelines.
Certification requirements are complex. One-on-one assistance with a qualified trainer or mentor is crucial. Contact Jim to discuss the path to certification and your training options.
The Sewerage System Regulation (SSR) applies to all smaller onsite wastewater treatment systems, including those for houses, small businesses or even small communal systems.
Compared to the previous Sewage Disposal Regulation, the SSR represents a significant change in approach. Responsibility for the proper design and installation of onsite systems has been transferred from Health Authorities to Authorized Persons, as defined by the SSR. Now the design, installation, repair and maintenance of onsite wastewater systems must be performed by an Authorized Person. In addition, an Authorized Person is required to certify that systems are constructed in compliance with the SSR. Today, Health Authorities no longer issue permits for sewerage system construction.
The enactment of the SSR in 2005 also brought new responsibilities for sewerage system owners. It is the responsibility of the homeowner to ensure sewage is discharged to a sewerage system that is constructed and maintained in accordance with regulations. And homeowners must ensure that sewage from the structure does not create a health hazard. As a result, owners are required to follow the maintenance plan, and use Authorized Persons (ROWPs) for a system’s design, installation, repair, and maintenance. Owners are responsible for ensuring the system operates within its own capabilities and limitations.
The Sewerage System Regulation (SSR) defines two types of Authorized Persons: a Registered Onsite Wastewater Practitioner (ROWP) and a Professional (typically a Professional Engineer). No others may plan, install or maintain systems in British Columbia. Doing so is illegal and considered an offense under the Regulation.
An exception is allowed under the SSR for owners constructing their own systems, but only under the supervision of an Authorized Person who has also prepared and submitted Filing and Certification documents to the Health Authorities.
Registered Onsite Wastewater Practitioner
Depending on training and qualifications, a Registered Onsite Wastewater Practitioner (ROWP) plans, installs, maintains and/or inspects onsite systems. They are registered with the Applied Science Technologists & Technicians of British Columbia (ASTTBC). To be registered, individuals must demonstrate specific competencies, gain experience under the oversight of an Authorized Person, submit work example documents for review, provide references, successfully complete examinations, and undergo a Practice Assessment Review within nine months of certification.
ROWPs must adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and follow the Ministry of Health Services’ Sewage System Standard Practice Manual, which sets out best practices.
This is the new term for what was previously called a “septic system.” Provincial regulations define it as “a system for treating domestic sewage that uses one or more treatment methods and a discharge area, but does not include a holding tank or privy.” The term “wastewater” is often used interchangeably with “sewage.”
Most B.C. homes outside major urban areas do not have access to a public sanitary sewer system – otherwise known as a city sewer hook-up. That means it is up to the home owner to treat and disperse wastewater on her or his property in accordance with Provincial Regulations.
These systems are designed to match the expected usage of the building, the number of occupants, and the size and type of the planned or existing building, alongside the limitations of the property and soil type. The goal is to treat and disperse wastewater in a manner that does not cause, or contribute to, a health hazard, and minimizes risk to the environment.
A system typically includes a septic tank for the physical separation of solids from liquids, and may include a treatment plant or a process for promoting additional biological treatment. Although septic tanks provide some treatment, the microbiology found in those conditions is not as efficient at breaking down the contents of wastewater as the conditions in a treatment plant.
From the septic tank or treatment plant/process, the effluent is directed to a soil dispersal area, which could be one of many styles, such as standard trenches, a sand mound or even drip irrigation. The physical and biological characteristics of the soil continue the treatment process and break down or use the nutrients and otherwise harmful components of the wastewater.
When functioning as designed and maintained properly, a system will return water into the environment that is safe.
Many older styles of systems used a simple gravity-based means to transport fluids from the home to the final soil treatment area. Today many systems require a pump set into a separate chamber with a control panel and alarms for monitoring its operation. These more advanced methods can improve the lifespan of the system, often substantially. But these components come with an added cost over the older, simpler styles. Simple gravity dispersal systems are allowed on some sites with substantial depth of favourable soil, but many sites are not suitable for these simpler systems. More advanced systems that provide uniform dispersal to the entire dispersal field are often a requirement rather than an option.
When used in accordance with the design parameters and properly maintained, an onsite sewerage system will provide effective treatment and minimize risks to human health and the environment.
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