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.

How do I become a ROWP?

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 a professional 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).
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 are responsible for the physical installation and repair of onsite wastewater systems in accordance with specifications provided by a ROWP Planner or a Professional.

ROWP Planners are responsible for assessment of the site and soil conditions, system design, construction review and certification of system construction.

ROWP Maintenance Providers are responsible for maintenance of onsite wastewater systems in accordance with the maintenance plan provided by a ROWP Planner or a Professional.

ROWP Private Inspectors are responsible for 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 under the supervision of an Authorized Person. Most Authorized Persons are reluctant to 'train their competition'. We can help. We have fully qualified Authorized Persons to provide individualised mentoring to achieve the work experience requirements under the oversight of an Authorized Person and technical support to create work example document submissions that comply with the Sewerage System Standard Practice Manual and ASTTBC ROWP Practice Guidelines.

Certification requirements are complex. One-on-one assistance by a qualified trainer/mentor is critical. Contact Jim to arrange a call to discuss the path to certification and your training options.

What is the Sewerage System Regulation?

The Sewerage System Regulation (SSR) applies to all smaller onsite wastewater treatment systems, including those for houses, small businesses and 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, design, installation, repair and maintenance of onsite wastewater systems must be performed by an Authorized Person. An Authorized Person is required to certify that systems are constructed in compliance with the SSR. Health Authorities no longer issue permits for sewerage system construction.

The enactment of the SSR in 2005 also brought new responsibilities for the owner of a sewerage system. It is the responsibility of the homeowner to ensure sewage is discharged to a sewerage system that is constructed and maintained in accordance with the regulation … and must ensure that sewage from the structure does not cause a health hazard. This means, in part, that owners are required to follow the maintenance plan, and use Authorized Persons (ROWPs) to perform design, installation, repair and maintenance. Owners are responsible to ensure the system is operated within the capabilities and limitations of that system.

Authorized Persons
The Sewerage System Regulation (SSR) defines two types of ‘Authorized Person’: 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 to construct their own systems, but only under the supervision of an Authorized Person and only with sewerage Filing and Certification documents prepared and submitted to Health Authorities by an Authorized Person.

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, achieve 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 also follow the Ministry of Health Services’ Sewage System Standard Practice Manual which sets out best practices.

What is an onsite sewerage system?

This is the new term for what used to be 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 – a city sewer hook-up, in other words. 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, the size and type of the planned or existing building, along with 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 a physical separation of solids from liquids, and may include a treatment plant or process to promote 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 conditions within 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 including 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 with these components comes 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 will minimize risks to human health and the environment.