Low-Pressure Sewer Systems

Low-pressure sewer systems are commonly used in rural and acreage communities in Sturgeon County. Owners of low-pressure sewer systems are required to have their own two-stage septic tanks.

Instead of pumping the liquid effluent to fields or mounds system, as is usually done on farms or isolated acreages, the wastewater is pumped into a liquid wastewater collection force main (a force main is used to move wastewater from a lower to higher elevation).


The Safety Codes Act requires that permits in Alberta be obtained before any work begins on buildings covered by the Alberta Building and Fire Codes, the Canadian Electrical Code, the Gas Code, the National Plumbing Code, or the Alberta Private Sewage
Systems Standard of Practice.

A Plumbing permit (your system connects to a septic tank, and the tank goes to the Municipal system) or Private Sewage permit (private disposal) is required in Sturgeon County for the installation or replacement of a septic tank. Please contact the Safety Codes Administrator at sassistant@sturgeoncounty.ca or 780-939-8276.

The property owner is responsible for arranging all the necessary permits unless your contractor has done this on your behalf. Failure to comply will result in a bylaw infraction fine and costs to bring the project into compliance.

Important Information

The shutoff valve (CC valve) must only be operated
by Sturgeon County Utility and Waste Management
Services (UWMS) staff.

Plumbers, homeowners, and contractors are not permitted to operate this valve. Failure to comply will result in a bylaw infraction fine.

If the valve needs to be turned on or off, contact:
UWMS department at (780) 939-4321 to book an appointment.

Regular inspections

The septic pump requires regular inspection and maintenance to ensure a long life. Pumps may either be a submersible sewage pump installed in the second chamber (liquid chamber) of the septic tank, or a centrifugal pump installed in the basement with a suction line to the second chamber.

  • The use of a single chamber tank with a grinder pump is not permitted.
  • All pump connections must have double check valves downstream of the pump discharge to prevent backflow of municipal sewage into the septic tank.
  • Back flow preventers typically have a life of 15 to 20 years and should be inspected regularly.

Recommended Size

In some locations, such as at high elevations within the system, smaller pumps can be used. However, if the pump is not large enough, it may not be able to overcome the pressure within the system during normal demands.

The maximum head for a low-pressure pump is 24 metres (35 psi). Pumps with a higher discharge head are only permitted if all pumps and mains within the system have been designed to accommodate the higher pressure.

The size for low-pressure sewer connections is 38 mm or 1.5 inches in diameter. Each service line will have an isolation/shutoff valve (CC valve) located at the edge of the serviced property.

Septic Tank Recommendations

  • A two-compartment tank, sized, and constructed
    in accordance with the Alberta Plumbing Code is
  • Extend the tank access risers at least 150 mm above
    finished ground surface.
  • Use watertight manhole covers.
  • Divert surface runoff away from the manhole cover.

Septic Pump Recommendations

It is recommended that either a submersible or
centrifugal septic pump meet the following:

  • Be a CSA approved effluent pump. The minimum
    head recommended for a low-pressure pump is
    18 metres (26 psi). Generally, this requires a good
    ½ hp pump.
  • Be capable of a three-minute minimum pump run
    time at 1 L/s pumping rate.
Who is responsible?

The individual pump system is the responsibility of the property owner. Annual inspection and servicing of the pump system by a qualified service person or company is recommended.

Maintenance & cleaning

The tank should be pumped when the bottom layer of sludge is within 18 inches of the tank outlet. Cleaning the tank in the spring allows the bacterial action to re-establish quickly in the warm summer temperatures.

The Alberta Safety Codes recommends hiring a vacuum truck to clean the solid waste that doesn’t biodegrade. A tank is usually
vacuumed every two years.

A fire advisory is in effect for Sturgeon County due to high temperatures and lack of precipitation.

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