Rules and Regs - February 2021

Voters in Talladaga County, Alabama, decisively said septage may not be spread on land in the county. Although the county still had a few provisional ballots to count in the week after Election Day, the unofficial vote total was at 70% against land spreading with only 30% in favor.

Local Amendment 2 drew support from some members of the public and Coosa Riverkeeper. The Coosa River winds along the county’s western border, and septage was spread on land outside of nearby Lincoln. People may be recreating in the river and not know they are exposed to human waste, said Justin Overton, executive director of the Coosa Riverkeeper.

Resident Larry Phillips told CBS 42 News that he worried about his cows because runoff from the septage spreading property comes onto his land.

But fewer municipal wastewater plants are accepting septage. A limited number of people are doing land application, and because the area is growing, eventually there won’t be any sites for land spreading, Charles Hall, executive director of the Alabama Onsite Wastewater Association, told CBS 42.

“At some point there is very few places to put sewage that is pumped from a septic tank, so people with a septic tank are going to have a much higher fee to have to pay to get their septic tanks pumped,” said Hall.

The amendment will not affect biosolids, and farmer Phillips noted someone raising chickens may still spread that manure.


People who live in the Upper Hazel River Watershed are eligible for aid to help with the cost of pumping, maintaining, repairing or replacing their septic systems. The watershed covers portions of Rappahannock, Culpeper and Madison counties near the state’s western border.

Grants through the Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District are intended to reduce bacterial contamination in local streams. In some streams, E. coli bacteria levels are higher than allowed by state water quality standards, reported the Rappahannock News of Washington, Virginia.

Reimbursements to property owners vary from 50% to 80% depending on income. For a 50% reimbursement level, a property owner may receive a maximum of $175 for a pumpout, $2,500 for a repair, $6,000 for a conventional system requiring a pump to move effluent to a drainfield, or $12,000 for an alternative system.


Hubbard County is considering the removal of some code provisions that trigger septic system inspections. The change would leave only inspections required by the state and are a reaction to the state’s change of its onsite inspection rules.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will begin requiring onsite professionals to drain a tank when inspecting it. Eric Buitenwerf, environmental service officer for Hubbard County, told county commissioners there is already a shortage of people who can do inspections. That shortage will only be made worse by the new rule, he said, according to the Park Rapids Enterprise of Park Rapids, Minnesota.

Some southern and metro counties agreed with the state rules change, he said. And he said there are other tools to deal with systems that are failing badly.

New York

A signature made it official: All new construction in Suffolk County must use advanced treatment systems to remove nitrogen.

“Protecting water quality is a top priority for both our region’s environment and our economy,” said County Executive Steve Bellone when he signed the new law on Oct. 15.

In addition to new homes and commercial buildings, advanced systems will be required for home renovations that increase the number of bedrooms to more than five and increase the building’s footprint. In order to aid businesses, the law allows more flexibility in the use of smaller wastewater treatment plants.

The law takes effect in July. For several years, the county, which occupies the eastern end of Long Island, has focused on reducing water pollution by upgrading wastewater treatment. An estimated 380,000 residences in the county use cesspools to treat wastewater. 

“Rules and Regs” is a monthly feature in Onsite Installer. We welcome information about state or local regulations of potential broad interest to onsite contractors. Send ideas to


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.