Red Deer County News

Posted on: May 17, 2017

Planning & Development: Private Sewage FAQ

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A Private Sewage System does much more than make your sewage soak into the ground. The disposal system treats the sewage to prevent the transmission of disease to your family or neighbours and prevents damage to the environment.

Q: I’m building a new house or adding a second residence, what do I need to know about private sewage?
There are many different types of private sewage systems: all systems will have a septic tank that will be connected to an open discharge, treatment field or treatment mound system.  Red Deer County requires a preliminary private sewage form and detailed site plan with your development permit application. This process will help you determine where and what type of system you would like to install.  

Considerations that are commonly overlooked include the cost of a new sewer system; best location for the dwelling and sewer (keep a diagram of the location); setbacks from property lines, bodies of water, and other buildings on-site; keeping the sewer site from being compacted before and after the system is installed; keeping down spouts and other surface water flows away from the septic system; maintaining your septic system regularly.

Once you are ready to apply for your private sewage permit, the applicant must provide Red Deer County’s Safety Codes Department with the System Design Support Documents, including the following:
- A detailed drawing shall be provided showing distances from the effluent component design to the following: property lines; residence or building being served; water source; water course; septic or sewage holding tank; lagoons. Meeting the required setback distances of your chosen sewage system is TOP PRIORITY. For setback requirements, go to:
- A site evaluation shall be done in accordance to the requirements of Article & (2) of the Alberta Private Sewage Standard of Practice 2009.
- The characteristics of each soil profile investigated shall be described using Canadian System of Soil Classification and include soil profile descriptions as set out in Article of the Alberta Private Sewage Standard of Practice 2009.
- A soil sample of the most limiting condition affecting the design shall be collected and analyzed at a laboratory using a recognized grain or particle size analysis method to determine the texture of the soil.
- Work sheets showing calculations for treatment components are required along with system design documents. Examples and templates for these design documents and work sheets can be viewed at:
- A certified installer is highly recommended to design and install your sewage disposal system. Go to for a complete list of contractors.

Q: What are the signs that my septic system may be failing and what do I do?
- sewage odours indoors or outdoors;
- water (sewage) surfacing in your yard (often above your leaching field);
- tile bed area is frequently wet and spongy;
- backup of sewage into your house;
- a change in plant growth and algae (excessive growth) in nearby ponds and lakes;
- contamination in well water tests (increased levels of nitrates and coliform bacteria).

If your system is failing, please call a certified installer as soon as possible to investigate the issue and to prevent potential contamination.

Planning & Development: 403.350.2170

Additional Info...
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