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General Practise Information
Who Files with the Health Authorities?

 

 
 
 
 
 

BC Standard Practice Manual

 

Standard Practice Guidelines for Private Inspectors

 

ROWP Discipline
Complaints Against ROWPs
Most Common Problem
Health Authorities Didn’t Require It
No or Inadequate Contracts
Letter of Certification Not Provided Due To Contract Dispute
Installers Not Providing Planners With an LoC
ROWPs Working On Native Land
Subdivisions
Working Outside Your Registration and/or Training
Not Having or Using Equipment That Is Necessary to Properly and Thoroughly Carry Out a Function
Relying on the Accuracy of Paperwork Supplied by Another Party Without Verification
Failing to Respond to Client’s Calls for Assistance in a Timely Fashion
Practice Review Board Results
PRACTICE NOTICES
Effective April 1, 2009, and consistent with the terms of the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) and the BC/AB Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA), ASTTBC will certify and register Onsite Wastewater Practitioners who are currently certified/registered/licensed in another jurisdiction in Canada, in accordance with the provisions of these Agreements. See the notice under Become a ROWP and within the Onsite Wastewater Registration Policy in the Documents section of this website.

As a ROWP, continuing to improve your skills and knowledge to stay current and advance yourself in your field is a requirement under the Code of Ethics. At this time, the amount of CPD a ROWP must accumulate per year is not specifically defined by type or quantity and proof of completion of some form of CPD has been left to the ROWP to hold in their files. As of June 1, 2009 ROWPs can voluntarily record their CPD through the main ASTTBC website - mandatory reporting will be required in the near future.

This program assesses the general skills and abilities of a ROWP to undertake the work within a category of registration, such as the documentation created by a Planner, or the actions of a Maintenance Provider in carrying out appropriate maintenance. PAP also assesses the business practices, communications and other administrative functions of a ROWP.
The emphasis is on helping all ROWPs of any skill or experience level identify their strengths and weaknesses and improve their practice. This may include suggestions to take particular courses, local workshops, seminars, night school courses in personal computers or small business skills, and many other aspects best suited to the specific ROWP. It is also a chance to receive feedback and express concerns on any aspect of the program.

Where a ROWP is being dealt with through the Practice Review Board (PRB), they may be required to undergo PAP as one condition of the decision imposed by the PRB. For all other ROWPs, a random selection will be contacted and required to complete PAP each year, possibly resulting in all ROWPs completing one assessment within a 4- or 5-year period.

All new ROWPs, including inter-provincial transferees under the TILMA and AIT trade agreements must undergo an Initial System Review.

As specified within the Onsite Wastewater Registration Program Policy, an ISR is an evaluation of a practitioner’s compliance in relation to their responsibilities as set out in the Regulation, the BC SPM, occupational competencies, and approved training programs, as well as ROWP responsibilities as dictated by ASTTBC Policies.

The Initial System Review examines the documentation of the first system of each type that a Practitioner is involved with. If the work meets expectations, the ROWP will be encouraged to continue, possibly with a few recommendations for improvement. If the work does not consistently meet expectations, the ROWP will be forwarded to the Practice Review Board and may become subject to a full Practice Assessment. The review must be successfully completed before the ROWP Planner files the plan with the Health Authority, before the system is backfilled for ROWP Installers, and within one week after maintenance or inspection works commence for ROWP Maintenance Providers and Private Inspectors.

Contact Jim Andersen, Compliance Officer, Onsite Wastewater Registration Program at 604.585.2788 local 254 for more details.

There is a section of this website intended to assist consumers with identifying and contacting ROWPs in their area. If you would like to add or change contact information, areas of practice within the province, etc. contact Julie Li for assistance.

ASTTBC has produced a brochure about the Sewerage System Regulation (SSR). This brochure, Ensuring a Sustainable Future - Onsite Wastewater Systems for Residences in BC, can be used by ROWPs to help explain the program to their clients.
To download a copy of the brochure, click Onsite Wastewater brochure. To receive a complimentary hard copy, contact the Applied Science Technologists & Technicians of BC (ASTTBC) directly at 604-585-2788 or email a request to jli@asttbc.org
Willis Canada Inc. is ASTTBC's broker and strategic partner for all membership insurance needs.
To summarize their history, Willis began operations in 1828 and has become one of the leading insurance brokers and risk management consultant firms in the world. They employ 16,000 Associates in a network of over 300 offices serving over 50,000 clients. In Canada they have over 350 insurance professionals in six offices across the country. A major focus of Willis in Canada is the management of Association Programs and, in particular, Professional Liability (E&O) Programs. More information on Willis can be found on their global web site at www.willis.com and their Canadian website http://www.willis.com/sites/canada/english.aspx
Under the current ASTTBC ENCON Group Plan, Willis can address E&O insurance requirements for those ROWPs who work exclusively in the Planner or Private Inspector categories. For those members who are involved in the combined practices of Planning and Installation and/or Maintenance, Willis can also provide, on an individual basis, CGL insurance to address their current coverage needs. Willis is actively marketing the ROWP coverage requirements to insurance carriers around the world so that a competitive group CGL package can be offered to all ROWP registrants.
Those members that already have ENCON coverage from ASTTBC's previous broker need not be concerned as their insurance renewal will be seamless and transparent, the only change being that renewal information will come from Willis.
For those registrants considering purchasing insurance for the first time, please do not hesitate to contact Willis if you would like to discuss the coverage available. Your primary contact at Willis is Peter Boucher. Peter has a long history of working as a service provider for E&O programs and has experience dealing with large program groups. He also has experience as an insurance underwriter for professional liability risks.
Contact Peter Boucher should you have any questions on coverage terms and conditions, in addition to administrative requests related to new applications or policies due for renewal.
Peter can be reached by contacting the Willis main toll free line at 1-800-665-5252, or direct line (604) 683-6831, or cell phone (604) 880-2791, or email peter.boucher@willis.com.
All ROWPs should note that only a ROWP - Planner is authorized to make filings with a Health Authority. Further, if the ROWP - Planner is not also the Installer, the ROWP - Planner should perform a construction review of the system installation to ensure that it was installed to the Planner's specifications and in the specified location. The ROWP - Installer is also required to provide the ROWP - Planner (or professional) with a stamped and signed certification letter declaring that the sewage system had been installed in the specified by the plan.
This procedure was implemented to clarify the roles of the Planner and Installer with the Health Authorities and to simplify the filing process. The ROWP - Planner is also responsible for ensuring that the system's owner receives all the required documentation, including the Planners Letter of Certification along with a copy of the ROWP - Installer's certification letter.
A copy can be downloaded from the Documents section of this website or a hard copy purchased from the Queens Printer.

All ROWPs who carry out an “inspection”, regardless of category, are to meet or exceed the standards described in the Standard Practice Guidelines For Private Inspectors. This document can be found in the Documents section of this website.

The number of complaints against ROWPs has increased significantly. In response to this, ASTTBC has become highly pro-active since the fall of 2008 by undertaking random visits to Health Authority offices to carry out reviews of Filings for quality control purposes. If necessary, ASTTBC will generate an internal complaint against a ROWP through the Practice Review Board and this may include an assessment of the onsite system to facilitate the investigation.

One of the most frequently encountered problems is a significant lack of information submitted with a Filing. This can include lack of design rationale behind the choice of system selected, poor drawings, minimal or poor soil details, no calculations for the design, poor O&M plans or no plans at all, and numerous other items missing or contrary to what is set out within the SSR/SPM.

The Health Authorities around the province use different forms to indicate the information they require for a Filing and this has led some ROWPs to believe that what is defined by the forms is all they need to provide. The form from a health office is the bare minimum they require but a ROWP MUST provide the full information required by the SSR/SPM, regardless of what the Health Authority may be asking for.

ROWPs are frequently undertaking projects with little or no written contract. This shortcoming has led to numerous complaints by consumers to ASTTBC about problems regarding ROWPs. Often, misunderstandings or miscommunication between the parties is due to insufficient time being spent with the client to ensure that their needs will be addressed beyond work on the onsite system. Restoration of the site after completion, lack of discussion of system options, or leaving it to the homeowner to arrange for an electrician to deal with wiring electrical components are just some of the issues that repeatedly occur. Others include the client not being aware of what a mound will look like when the job is complete, where vent or exhaust pipes from treatment plants or other features of a system will be located, and so on. These misunderstandings lead to complaints of components being unsightly. Regardless of your past business practices, do not rely on hand shakes but make sure that for every job you have a clear contract in writing that is understood and agreed upon by both parties before starting work. Then, do not deviate from the contract without clearly putting reasons in writing and having all parties sign-off on the changes before they are made.

When disputes have occurred, some ROWPs have refused to provide a Letter of Certification until payment was received. ROWPs have an obligation to complete the project and settle any differences through appropriate, possibly legal remedies afterwards - holding a client 'hostage' is not an acceptable practice. Set out progress payments within the contract based on achieving fixed goals or various other standard business contract practices and do not frustrate the contract by taking actions that stall or prevent completion once work commences.
All Installers are expected to provide a stamped and signed Letter of Certification for their work as an Installer to the Planner or Designer who in turn provides a copy for the homeowner, the filing agency, and the Planner’s records. The Installer is also to keep a copy on file for the work they perform on a system.
For those ROWPs that are involved with onsite systems on native land, they are still required to conduct themselves according to ASTTBC policies and the Code of Ethics. A ROWP is held to the same standards regardless of where they are working. Even if a ROWP is undertaking work in another province they must still follow ASTTBC’s policies and the Code of Ethics at all times.
ROWPs are becoming involved with onsite sewage systems in subdivisions around the province. Recent PRB cases against ROWPs have found they did not have sufficient skills and training to undertake such work and were unfamiliar with Health Authority or Regional District processes.
WOWTC or WCOWMA courses taken while becoming a ROWP do not include training for subdivision work as it does not fall within the scope of the Sewerage System Regulation. Therefore, a ROWP should only undertake such work where they have appropriate skills and training from other sources or are working in conjunction with a qualified professional. Subdivision work can be complex and mistakes very expensive, including the risk of litigation due to errors or omissions. A mistake can quickly expand and affect the entire subdivision, potentially costing the client heavily in time and money. All ROWPs should have E&O insurance for general practice – this applies to an even greater degree when they are involved in larger projects where errors can quickly lead to bankruptcy.
Related to subdivision work is the concept that ROWPs can only undertake work for which they are qualified by virtue of their training and experience and by being registered in that category. An Installer is not to undertake Planning work unless they are doing so through a mentor or oversight by an Authorized Person and even then the Installer must utilize the full review and co-stamping procedure to prove oversight.
This issue is also showing up where ROWPs are carrying out inspections of existing systems, often for real estate deals or for building departments as a subject to building permits being issued for workshops, swimming pools, additions to homes, etc. Without having the skills or training, ROWPs have provided letters in support of permits that have later turned out to be based on incorrect information. Systems were found to be in different locations, malfunctioning, or had other problems that caused building permits to be retracted and in some cases lawsuits initiated.
It is vital that ROWPs do not carry out any work outside of their training and registration category. Even though a Planner might not have taken the Private Inspector training, they should still complete the work according to the Standard Practice Guidelines for Private Inspection, the “standard practice” for such work. The further away an ROWP is from using standard practice, the greater the potential liability they face and the higher the likelihood they will make serious mistakes.

Related to lack of skills or training is the lack of appropriate equipment to undertake the work being performed. A coat hanger or similar used to “witch” or “divine” is NOT an acceptable locating device under any circumstances. Electronic tracking devices exist and are highly accurate tools for the job just as inclinometers or distance measuring devices are essential for Planners during the site assessment. If you do not have the right equipment, DO NOT attempt to do the job. In one case, the system was “located” using a coat hanger only to be found later in a completely different location, much smaller than was suggested, and breaking out to the surface. This inaccurate work cost the property owner tens of thousands of dollars and a lawsuit was filed to recoup the loss.

Whether using old permits, details on new Filings or information from the property owner, do not assume that the information contained in the documents is accurate without verifying it for yourself. In two instances a lack of due diligence took the form of an Installer asking a Planner to sign off on systems where the Installer had apparently carried out site assessments, soil testing and created plans for new systems. Unfortunately, the Planner did not obtain supporting documentation nor carry out any verification of the site assessment, expected usage of facility by the property owners, land title information that showed covenants, and similar information. This placed liability on the Planner for signing off on a Filing that was full of incorrect and misleading information. A ROWP cannot rely on the word of a property owner, as memories are unreliable and the practitioner will ultimately be held responsible for any errors. Typically, the outcome is never good for a Practitioner who blames mistakes on verbal information supplied by the property owner.

Even if a ROWP is busy, when a client calls and reports some form of potential problem with their system, do not delay in responding. Serious conditions, including sewage backing up into the home, have occurred due to delays by ROWPs that have in several cases amounted to weeks late in getting back to the client. On multiple occasions affected homeowners have contacted ASTTBC for assistance causing a PRB file to be opened on the ROWPs involved. As a further note, where an ROWP fails to respond to ASTTBC staff investigating a PRB complaint, the ROWP has had their registration revoked and Health Authorities across the province have been notified that the individual is no longer an ROWP.

Results of Practice Review Board decisions are posted on the ASTTBC website in order to show both ROWPs and the public that complaints are fully investigated by ASTTBC and what the outcomes were. While a ROWP’s name is not posted on the website under normal circumstances, such as with more minor complaints, those who have their registration revoked due to serious breaches of the Code of Ethics will have their names posted.


 
NEWS & UPDATES
ROWP Standard Practice Manual Version 3 Training Workshop
 
ASTTBC Signs Historic Agreement with WCOWMA
 
ROWP News Letter - June 2014
 
Ministry of Health Seeks Input on Standard Practice Manual
 
Minister of Health Terry Lake Meets ASTTBC
 
John Leech's Letter Re BCOSSA's Mis-Interpretation
 

Stakeholder Seminars for Review of Consultation Draft SPM3

 
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News Bulletin #6 - April 2012
 

ASTTBC Onsite Wastewater Issues Paper - March 2012

 

Onsite Wastewater Forum Brings Together Stakeholders

 
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Health Hazard Communication Guideline
 
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MHLS Setback Rationale
 

SSR Update - July 2010

 
News Bulletin #3 - July 2010
 
ROWP Availability Survey   Summary - January 2010
 
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News Bulletin #1 - July 2009