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July 3, 2012:
Pressure is on to manage better
It is always amazing to consider how much work a farm septic system does. The numbers are daunting. Alberta Municipal Affairs estimates the average person produces 340 litres of wastewater that flows through a sewage treatment system every day. A family in a three-bedroom house, using the basic code design calculation of 1.5 persons per bedroom, produces 1,530 litres per day or half a million litres per year.
Most landowners want to develop a system that's up to the job, says Joe Petryk, senior field inspector for Alberta Municipal Affairs. A man who has dealt with septic issues for many years, Petryk has also been a major contributor to those sections of the Alberta Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) workbook that deal with this area of concern.
"We know that many municipalities across the province facing pressures to better manage water quality are dealing with issues such as grandfathering of older, substandard septic systems, or applying sewage sludge to agricultural lands," says AEFP program coordinator, Perry Phillips.
That all adds up to expecting septic systems to be in the news more frequently in the days ahead, says Phillips. Developing an EFP, an assessment of the environmental risks of a farm is an excellent way to establish a baseline in waste management. In fact household waste management ranks among the top five environmental challenges for producers who have completed an Environmental Farm Plan (EFP).
"I often hear folks say that their system has worked well for 20 years and wonder why they should start to be concerned now," says Phillips. "The fact is a septic system does have an effective lifespan and the level of care and monitoring needs to reflect that."
The feature article "Build an effective farm septic system" on the Alberta EFP website www.albertaefp.com, provides more thorough information on this topic from Joe Petryk.
July 3, 2012:
Wheatland County producers with an Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) can receive added benefits from a water quality program launched by the County in 2011.
Projects aimed at conserving or improving water quality within Wheatland County will be considered for funding under the Wheatland County Water Protection Initiative. Producers with an EFP are eligible for 75 per cent funding for costs of approved projects, to a maximum of $3,500.
Sarah Schumacher, Wheatland County's agricultural conservation and communications coordinator, as well as the EFP technical assistant for the County, says the program was initiated to enhance an already-existing extension program as well as to encourage "on-the-ground" practice change.
Producers simply fill out a form explaining how their proposed project will improve water quality. The form also includes questions on long-term management as well as project budget. Funding under the Water Protection Initiative is provided on a first-come, first-served basis and each landowner can receive funding only once per year.