In order to ensure that all septic systems in Severn are properly maintained and functioning, Township of Severn follows the Discretionary and Mandatory On-Site Sewage System Maintenance Inspection Program outlined in our our Discretionary and Mandatory On-Site Sewage System Maintenance By-law, and supported by the Ontario Building Code and the Clean Water Act.

Program areas and exemptions

View the program areas and exemptions to see if your property is included in the inspection program.

Mandatory inspection program area

Properties that are a part of the Mandatory On-Site Sewage System Maintenance Inspection Program are located within the predetermined vulnerable areas of the Wellhead Protection Area and the Intake Protection Zone.

Discretionary inspection program area

The Discretionary On-Site Sewage System Maintenance Inspection program applies to all properties serviced by a sewage system and that are located on the following bodies of water within the Severn:

  • Severn River
  • Gloucester Pool
  • Little Lake
  • Maclean Lake
  • Matchedash Bay
  • Lake Couchiching
  • Lake St. George
  • Green River
  • Black River
  • Sparrow Lake
  • Tea Lake

Program exemptions

If your sewage system was installed within two years of the intended inspection date, your property is exempt from the inspection. We will inspect your system in five years.

If you have an Advanced Treatment Unit, your sewage system will be exempt from this program as long as you submit:

  • a current service agreement
  • annual service reports

Please submit these documents to us every year.

If you don't submit these documents, we'll inspect your sewage system to ensure that the Advanced Treatment Unit is in compliance with our Discretionary and Mandatory On-Site Sewage System Maintenance By-law and the Ontario Building Code.

Inspection schedule

We'll inspect all properties located in the mandatary and discretionary inspection program areas once every five years.

If your property is selected for the current year, you'll receive a letter outlining the program details and what to expect during the up-coming inspection. You don't need to be present for the inspection. Due to the large number of properties and limited time, we won't book inspections.

Septic inspection schedule 2020 to 2024
YearArea to be inspectedNumber of properties (approximate)
2020 Lake St. George 87 plus
2021 MacLean Lake, Little Lake, and Gloucester Pool 462
2022 Tea Lake and Severn River 451
2023 Sparrow Lake and Severn River 436
2024 Lake Couchiching, Black and Green Rivers, Matchedash Bay 451

The program inspection schedule will restart with mandatory inspections in 2025 in the Lake St. George area. 


It costs $150 to have your septic system inspected. We'll send you an invoice following the inspection. The fee is payable to the Township of Severn and we must receive the payment within 60 days of invoicing.

You will only pay this fee if your property is located within these program areas and you have a sewage system. Any properties that are on municipal sewers are not included. This fee is separate from your property taxes.

Deficiencies report

If deficiencies are found during the inspection, you'll receive a report outlining the requirements you'll need to complete in order to pass the inspection. The report will also include a deadline to complete the work.

Once you've completed the work, please notify us and we will re-inspect. An extension may be granted or an order under the Ontario Building Code may be issued if the Septic Inspector finds that the work has not been completed.

What we're looking for

During an inspection, the Septic Inspector will look for signs of damage or system failure. This includes:

  • ponding (or water) on the top or sides of the bed
  • sewage odours
  • damage or cracking of the septic tank
  • any washing away of the septic bed soil

With older systems, the Septic Inspector will look for components that are no longer deemed acceptable. These include:

  • steel septic tanks
  • direct deposits of gray water
  • weak or no lid structures on gray water pits
  • outhouses that are in poor condition

The program also ensures that you are keeping up with all required maintenance, such as:

  • septic tank or holding tank pumping
  • vegetation removal
  • electrical and alarm maintenance
  • soil maintenance
  • grading around the septic bed

Additional resources

Septic Inspection Program Review presentations

Township staff provide an update to Council annually on the results of the program. 

Learn more about the program results:

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs: SepticSmart!

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) website includes:

  • videos and information about how your septic system works

  • options for alternative septic systems for more challenging locations

  • detailed descriptions on how to take care of your system

  • how maintaining your system can save you money and protect water quality

SepticSmart! Understanding Your Home's Septic System
The SepticSmart! Understanding Your Home's Septic System booklet includes:
  • images and descriptions of a class 4 rural septic system
  • overview of the advantages and disadvantages of leaching beds and filter beds
  • guidelines on minimum separation distances for leaching or filter beds
  • best management practices for care of your septic system
SepticSmart! Advanced Treatment Systems
Some properties may not be suitable for a conventional septic systems due to property conditions or location. In this case, you may may need to consider an advanced treatment system. The SepticSmart! Advanced Treatment System booklet includes:
  • an introduction to advanced treatment units
  • type of final distribution and soil treatment that can be used (aerobic treatment units and filtration units)

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Why am I a part of this program?
Your properties is within either the Mandatory or Discretionary Maintenance On-Site Sewage System Maintenance Inspection Program area within Severn. If your property is near a wellhead or a water intake area you would be a part of the Mandatory Inspection program. If your property is a waterfront property along certain chosen waterways, you would be within the Discretionary inspection Program.  
Can the Inspector go onto my property without me there?

Yes, The Building Code Act (Section 15.10.1 (1)) allows the Inspector to enter upon land at any reasonable time without a warrant for the purpose of conducting a maintenance inspection. 

The $150 fee is a money grab for the Township. I pay enough taxes, why isn’t it apart of them?
This fee is intended to cover a portion of the program. The costs incorporate the Inspector’s time, transportation costs, and a portion of the administrative fees (paper, printing, postage, supplies, etc.). This cost is not included on taxes, as not everyone in Severn has a privately own sewage system. 
Will I receive a notice of when the inspection will be?

This program runs on a 5-year cycle. Every five years, you will receive a notice in the mail in spring to notify you that your property will be inspected that year. Due to the considerable number of inspections, no appointments will be made.

Why was the Inspector was only here for 5 minute to inspect?

If the Inspector was only there a short amount of time, that could indicate a positive inspection.

When on-site, the Inspector checks that:

  • your property has records for your sewage system.
  • the location and layout match what is on file.
  • there are no deficiencies.

If all of that is confirmed, then the on-site inspection is complete. If any deficiencies are noted, you will receive a notice in the mail detailing the deficiency and how to fix it. While your property may have been in compliance with the program, Inspectors do also have many systems that require a more exhaustive review and require additional time to assess and follow-up.

When does the fee need to be paid? 
Payment will need to be paid within 60 days. Any outstanding balances will be added to the property tax account where penalty/interest will accrue at 1.25% per month.
Can I pay online?
We do not accept online payments, although it is something towards which we are working. You can pay your inspection fee in person at the Administration Office located at 1024 Hurlwood Lane in Severn. We are open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. We accept payments by cash, debit or cheque. Please make your cheque payable to Township of Severn. We don't accept credit card payments. You can also mail you payment to Township of Severn, PO Box 159, Orillia, Ontario, L3V 6J3.
Why do I need a pump out and/or an assessment? My system works fine.

If your system is 40-years or older you are required to get a pump-out completed by a licenced sewage hauler and then submit that pump-out report to the Township. This is to ensure your aged system is working as it should be.

Sewage systems without records are required to get a septic site assessment completed by a licenced Septic Contractor, and a pump-out completed by a licensed Sewage Hauler. The property owner should then submit the pump-out report and septic site assessment to the Township. This is to confirm you have a legal functioning system and to create a record for your system.

Source protection plan

The Source Protection Plan identifies the source protection area for Severn and threats to our drinking water. Septic systems located on residential and agricultural properties have been identified as a potential threat within this plan. View our Source Water Protection page to see how we are working collaboratively to address threats to our drinking water system.