Septic Smart


Septic Smart Oxford

Effective March 23, 2019 Southwestern Public Health will no longer process Part 8 Sewage System applications. Applicants must contact their area municipal office to obtain an application. 

Southwestern Public Health strives to prevent the spread of disease and protect the health of residents through the protection of our ground and surface waters in Oxford County.

Careful attention to sewage system design and installation is required to ensure these systems function properly. This is of vital importance, as Oxford County draws its drinking water from underground aquifers.

In Oxford, public health inspectors are responsible for inspecting and approving sewage systems, investigating sewage related complaints and helping to solve them.

Sewage systems included are:

Class 1 (privies)
Class 2 (grey water)
Class 3 (cesspools)
Class 4 (tank/treatment unit and leaching bed)
Class 5 (holding tanks)

If your property includes a septic system, visit our maintaining and operating a sewage system page for information to help ensure your system is functioning properly.


Building Permits

Download the Septic Smart building permit package

A sewage system building permit is required when constructing a system in Oxford County. A permit is also required when making material alteration or repairs to the system. The application is to be completed, all documents attached (see below for details) and submitted to Southwestern Public Health. An inspector will then review the application and arrange a site evaluation.

Effective August 17, 2018, Southwestern Public Health is no longer accepting/processing septic applications for East Zorra-Tavistock or Blandford-Blenheim. Applications for these townships can be dropped off at the respective township office for processing. 


(as of January, 2018)

New system - $795

Replacement system - $795

Replacement of septic tank only - $250


Home additions or alterations/performance level review and fees

In Oxford County, public health enforces the provisions of Division B Part 8 of the Ontario Building Code 350/06.

A Performance Review & Change of Use Application is required under the Building Code for the review of proposals to increase living space, bedrooms, or fixtures in existing homes. Public health inspectors review applications to determine if the existing sewage system can adequately handle the expansion or if upgrading the system is required (called a performance level review).

A further discussion with a health inspector on the possible installation of a new septic system is required. Records of existing sewage systems may be on file and can be accessed for a search fee. When no record of the sewage system is available by the homeowner or through records, a site assessment of the septic system may be required. A fee is charged for this service.


(as of January 2018)

Performance review - $227 + HST
Change of use - $340

Download the performance review and change use application and instructions. 

Please contact Southwestern Public Health for more information at 1-800-922-0096.


Consent and minor variance application

Southwestern Public Health works with area municipalities in Oxford County and the Community & Strategic Planning department to review applications for minor variances.

Property owners may need to apply for a minor variance when considering an addition or construction of a new building on the property. Once Southwestern Public Health receives an application, a public health inspector will determine if a review of the on-site sewage system is necessary.

A comparison of the existing system and the proposal is made to determine if the system will be adequate and that clearance distances are met. Please contact the Oxford County Planning department at 519-539-9800 or 1-800-755-0394 for further details and for all necessary application forms.

Zoning bylaw amendments

Southwestern Public Health works with area municipalities in Oxford County and the Community & Strategic Planning department to review zoning bylaw amendments. When a construction project involves a new building or changes to an existing building, which is not in agreement with a zoning bylaw, an amendment is required. If a new sewage system is proposed, the property owner must submit an application to ensure the proposed construction of any sewage system complies with the Ontario Building Code. Please contact the Planning Department at 519-421-9901 for further details.

In cases where an existing sewage system services the building, a performance review application is required. A public health inspector will review the application and advise the municipality of any concerns.


File search and fees

Records of existing sewage systems may be on file and can be accessed for a fee. These requests may be obtained through the services of a lawyer when purchasing a parcel of property or a registered homeowner may also request information on their sewage system when planning landscaping projects or additions to the home and/or installation of a pool.

When no record of the sewage system is available through the record search, a review of the septic system may be conducted by a qualified on-site sewage system contractor.

2018 file search fees

File search (14 business days or more for reply) - $170.00

File search (less than 14 business days for reply) - $220.00


Mandatory maintenance inspection

The Ontario Building Code includes mandatory maintenance inspections for all on-site sewage systems that are identified as a significant threat to drinking water sources.

Properties identified as a potential threat to municipal drinking water systems in a source protection area. Within Oxford County, an inspection will be required on properties with an on-site sewage system that is located within a Well Head Protection Area (WHPA) A, B or C with a vulnerability score of 10 and /or an Issue Contributing Area (ICA) for nitrates. The Ontario Building Code requires all on-site sewage systems in these areas to be inspected every five years. 

Southwestern Public Health inspectors conduct these mandatory inspections. Prior to the inspection, a letter will be sent to each property owner.

If a problem is found with your system, you will need to correct the identified issue(s) by obtaining required permits and approvals within a reasonable timeframe. You may need to contact a qualified installer or repair the septic tank or leaching bed.

Read more information about Oxford County’s Source Water Protection program.




Last Updated: June 1, 2018