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Why you may have to wait for septic services in Halifax

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If you live in the Halifax area and need septic services, you might have to wait.

One of the main dumping sites is having capacity issues, which means businesses that rely on it are left in limbo.

"Right now, this truck is just geared for septics, so it's basically an anchor, just sitting there," said Mark Pratt, owner of Sea to Sky Portable Restrooms and Septic Services.

"We're into peak season right now, and we usually book two weeks in advance, so we've had to contact our customers and say, 'As of right now, we can't do it.'"

Pratt knows of at least six companies directly affected.

It's a concern for Hammonds Plains-St. Margaret's Councillor Pam Lovelace.

"This isn't a new issue. The industry has been concerned about it for a very long time, but it is new now because of a malfunction in the West Hants facility, and so that's driving septic haulers to try to find a place to go," said Lovelace.

Lovelace said this is happening at a busy time in the region. According to Halifax Regional Municipality, there are approximately 48,000 properties on septic systems.

"We're growing very quickly, and large multi-unit buildings are now on septic fields, and we're in the tourism season, which means businesses need to have their septic tanks emptied within every two to three days," said Lovelace.

"In addition to that, people are selling their homes and they need to have that septic certificate. They need to know that it's been cleaned, and also we have backups happening."

A construction site in Hammonds Plains, N.S. (Source: Stephanie Tsicos/CTV News Atlantic)

Septic work is done by private operators who have to dispose of the waste at a designated septic waste management facility.

"While Nova Scotia and Environment and Climate Change does not have a regulatory role in the operational aspect of septic tank cleaning, we are helping HRM and Halifax Water by providing information on other facilities that have capacity to take septic waste while the West Hants facility is at reduced capacity," said a spokesperson for Nova Scotia's Environment and Climate Change Department.

The municipality does not play a direct role in supporting property owners who have private septic tanks.

"The Department of Environment and Climate Change has compiled a list of facilities which can accept sewage from private haulers. This list is comprised of privately-operated facilities and those run by other Nova Scotia municipalities and has been provided to private haulers who have requested it," said an HRM spokesperson.

Lovelace is hoping the municipal and provincial governments will be able to find a long-term solution. Pratt is hoping that can happen sooner rather than later.

"There has to be a plan to handle it. It's not like people are going to say, 'Oh, OK, we'll do it next year.' Just today alone we've had two emergency calls for septics, that people have issues," said Pratt.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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