Water, Wells, and Septic Systems in Haliburton County

The issues faced by buyers purchasing rural and waterfront properties are different from and more complex than those faced by buyers when purchasing urban homes. Septic tanks and tile beds, holding tanks, dug or drilled wells, and Ultraviolet Filter systems are potential areas of concern. Work with a Realtor who understands these issues and explains them to you. 


Both Haliburton and Minden have sewage treatment plants for in-town properties. The Haliburton plant is located near the bridge on County Road 21 and the treated effluent is discharged into Grass Lake. The Minden plant is located on Deep Bay Road and the treated effluent is discharged into the Gull River. Outside of both town boundaries, properties are serviced by composting toilets, septic or holding tanks, or sometimes by none of these. 

A permit is required prior to installing a new sewage system or connecting a bathroom to an existing system. Visit the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge Health Unit site at http://www.hkpr.on.ca/index.asp to obtain the application package. A licensed contractor can handle the paperwork and coordination of the Health Department for you, but will require your signature on the application. Once you or your contractor have completed the sewage system permit application, provided the Ontario Building Code application for a permit to construct or demolish, and the proposed sewage disposal system design form for sewage systems described in the Ontario Building Code, your contractor will dig a test hole at the proposed site. A Health Department inspector will visit your property to inspect the test hole and site, looking at the soil composition, drainage patterns, proximity to lot lines and wells. The applicant will be either issued a permit to install the system or the reasons provided as to why a permit cannot be issued. If your property slopes toward your proposed septic site, you may be able to install a gravity fed system. If however, the topography slopes from your dwelling upwards to the sewage system, you will likely need an additional pump and pumping chamber so that your effluent is pumped up the hill to the tank and tile bed. These systems are more expensive. Costs depend upon geology, distance to the tank and bed, amount of fill required.

Fees increased significantly in 2007. You can expect to pay apprximately $670 for the permit when applying for a common septic tank and tile bed or leaching pit.



Except for the town of Minden which has a municipal water supply and treatment plant, water is provided to all other properties in the County from private wells or water lines running from a lake or river. This includes Haliburton Village where each shop or restaurant on the main street is serviced by it's own well. Look out back and on York Street you'll see the drilled well heads, usually protected by a steel post from inadvertant backer-uppers.

Until recently, all artificial wells were dug wells of varying depths and structure type. Dug wells were originally excavated with diameters large enough to accommodate men with shovels digging down to below the water table. They were once lined with brick or laid stones to reduce contamination and collapse. More recently dug wells are lined with concrete rings called tiles. Count the number of tiles and that's how you refer to the depth of the well. 7 tiles? 5 tiles? Pumps for dug wells are usually located in the dwelling, so the water is essentially sucked from the well into the house.

Today, wells are drilled by equipment mounted on large trucks, trailers, or tracked vehicle carriages. Some drilling machines are designed to install (by driving or drilling) a steel casing into the well in conjunction with the drilling of the actual bore hole. Air and/or water is used as a circulation fluid to displace cuttings and cool bits during the drilling. Drilled wells typically range from 20 to 600 feet (180 m), but can go deeper. Contractors will not quote a price to drill your well as they can never know for sure how deep they will have to drill. You should estimate between $6,000-$15,000. Your contractor will provide you with a Water Well Record for your well indicating the depth, soil types drilled through, and flow rate. This is an important document. Don't lose it! Drilled wells use pumps that are submerged in the bottom of the well; reason being it is easier to push a large volume of fluid up a hill that to suck it. It can be fairly costly and problematic to replace a drilled well pump, so don't let your water run unnecessarily.

Rather than going through the expense of drilling a well, many Haliburton County residents and cottagers have installed ultraviolet filter systems (UV systems) onto the water line that runs from the lake or river into their home or cottage. The UV system includes a lamp housed in a protective steel casing. The lamp looks like a fluorescent light. Water enters through the bottom part of the ultraviolet light reactor chamber, swirls around the ultraviolet lamp and comes out the top. When the water is exposed to the UV light in the chamber, the germs are killed. Expect to change your UV light once a year, but always test your water during the year. Water testing bottles are available free at the HKPR Health Unit located on the main street of Haliburton above the Century 21 office.

Dagmar Boettcher

Dagmar Boettcher

CENTURY 21 Granite Realty Group Ltd., Brokerage*
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