Rules and Regs: Land Application Ban Overturned

In this month’s regulations update, a Washington county ban on land application is struck down, and an Illinois sewer and water contractor is taken into federal custody.
Rules and Regs: Land Application Ban Overturned

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A county’s ban on the land application of Class B biosolids has been struck down by a Washington appeals court. The state Legislature approved land application in 1992, but Wahkiakum County banned it in 2011 after neighbors objected to a farmer’s plan to spread biosolids from a local septic tank pumping company to help grow grass for his cattle.

The appeals court ruled in favor of the Washington Department of Ecology that the county did not have the authority to ban something allowed by state law. The county said it planned to appeal the case to the Washington Supreme Court. Many farmers and sewer districts in Washington filed “friend of the court” briefs urging the court to overturn the ban. One of those was the county’s largest township, which currently pays to have its biosolids shipped outside the county for land application and hopes to save money by doing it locally.

More than 80,000 tons of Class B biosolids were land-applied in Washington in 2013, according to the Department of Ecology.

Illinois contractor fails to pay OSHA fines

The owner of an Illinois sewer and water contractor was taken into federal custody for failing to correct serious trenching hazards and pay OSHA penalties. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals granted a Department of Labor motion on Oct. 27, citing a history of failing to comply with OSHA standards and orders from the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Mike Neri of Mike Neri Sewer & Water Contractor Inc., of Elk Grove Village was held in contempt of court in July for failing to comply with an October 2013 enforcement order. After failing to respond to the court, the U.S. Marshal was ordered to take the man into custody.

The company had been issued several citations over five years, including serious, repeat and willful violations of trenching regulations, failing to train workers, and not having a safety and health program. The company was placed into OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The court ruled that he remain in federal custody until he either complied with the enforcement order or proved that he could not.

Proposed ban on cesspools in Hawaii

A ban on cesspools is one change proposed by the Hawaii Department of Health in planned revisions to its onsite wastewater rules. Hawaii has about 90,000 cesspools and approves an average of 800 new installations every year. Hawaii is the only state that still allows new cesspools. The proposed ban would prevent any new installations and require existing cesspools to be upgraded to a septic system or the home be connected to a sewer system within 180 days of the property being sold. Among other proposed changes:

  •    Dewatering of sludge for new facilities with flows of more than 100,000 gpd.
  •    Prohibition on individual wastewater systems in developments with more than 15 subdivided lots.
  •    Restrictions on the use of seepage pits as soil absorption systems.
  •    Requirement to bring manholes to grade and secure them.
  •    Minimum requirements for maintenance contracts for aerobic treatment units.
  •    Prevention of direct discharge of effluent from an aerobic unit to groundwater.
  •    Deletion of requirement of quarterly reports from pumpers.
  •    Revised spill reporting requirements.

The revision process began Sept. 1.

Required inspection measure fails in Maine town

A referendum in the Town of York that would have required septic system inspections at the time of sale failed in November. The controversial measure calling for inspection by a licensed site evaluator or septic inspector failed 3,683 to 3,052 after spirited campaigning from opponents and supporters. The law would have required repair or replacement of failing systems.

Wisconsin regulates separation of well lines and onsite systems

The Department of Natural Resources has added language to regulate the separation of private well waterlines from onsite wastewater treatment systems. The issue was not covered by regulations in the past. The new provisions became effective Oct. 1, 2014 and are as follows: The waterline may not be installed in, under or above a septic or holding tank, or any inground, at-grade or mound soil absorption unit; and the waterline must be separated at least 10 feet horizontally from components of an onsite treatment system.

Rhode Island courts order removal of $2 million home

A $2 million house built on the wrong lot must be moved, a Superior Court judge in Rhode Island has ruled. The septic system and driveway must also be relocated. The 2,400 square-foot, three-story home in Narragansett was built on park land by mistake, apparently because an official survey was never conducted. The court order requires the home to be moved to the correct, adjacent lot or be demolished, and the park land upon which it was built be restored.


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