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Updates to Manitoba’s Onsite Wastewater Management Program

A presentation at the Manitoba Onsite Wastewater Management Association Education Days updated contractors on a few planned policy changes to prepare them for the 2024 installation season.

Applications for Variances

In order to receive a variance in a situation where a site cannot meet all the requirements of the regulation, contractors will have to show that all available options to comply with the regulation have been investigated. Typically, variances are issued when it can be demonstrated that the proposed departure from the regulation meets or exceeds the regulatory requirements. Contractors should discuss the situation with their Environment Officer prior to applying for a variance.


The process for OWMS inspections will likely be transitioning to a risk-based model. This means that inspections will be determined based on several factors including level of risk to public health and the environment, installer experience, soil and site conditions, and previous non-compliance issues.

Certificates of Exemption – sewage ejectors

Certificates will only be issued for sewage ejectors that comply with all requirements in Schedule E – Standards for Sewage Ejectors (i.e., minimum 10 acres). However, ejector standpipes can still be relocated to meet required setback distances.

Disposal Field Registration Applications

The importance of complete registration applications was stressed. Registration applications are required under the regulatory framework and must be approved by an Environment Officer or the Director prior to installation. Incomplete applications delay the ability to begin the installation.

Key concerns regarding registration applications are incomplete or inaccurate information, such as missing information on the property or lack of information on the site and soil assessment including soil characteristics and vertical separation distances.

Registration applications are the only record of onsite wastewater design specifications and the location of the OWMS on the property. Review of the application ensures that the design is in compliance with the minimum requirements of the regulation and will not contribute to a public health or environmental hazard.

The registration application is broken out into sections and each section must be completely filled out. In order to provide information on property covenants or easements, the homeowner/client may have to provide a copy of the Property Title.

The application must be accompanied by all worksheets, system drawings, lot plans, and system specifications for the type of system being designed and installed.

Changes to the Required Fill Materials for Sand Treatment Mounds

Where additional material must be added to create the required vertical separation for a sand treatment mound, the use of loamy sand will no longer be allowed. Should an
as-constructed increase in the vertical separation between the bottom of the sand layer and a restricting horizon or condition be necessary, the fill material used must be ASTM C33 sand.


More information on the regulatory requirements for OWMS in Manitoba can be found on the Manitoba Environment and Climate Change website:

You can also reach out to an Environment Officer or the Director of the OWMS Program.

Alternately, give your industry association a call. We are always happy to help.

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