Rules and Regs: County in New York Mandating Inspection of Private Onsite Systems

In this month's regulations update, cesspools are still the cause of debate in Hawaii, and Chautauqua County will inspect all onsite systems near its lakes
Rules and Regs: County in New York Mandating Inspection of Private Onsite Systems

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The Chautauqua County Board of Health will begin inspecting all private onsite wastewater systems within 250 feet of its five lakes in May. The inspections will focus on two lakes in 2016, with the project expected to take a few years to complete as the county tries to reduce the amount of phosphorus reaching the lakes and contributing to algae blooms. The county will be looking at systems more than 30 years old and those installed before permits were required. Property owners will not be charged for the inspections but will have to pay the cost of uncovering the system and the cost to have it pumped so it can be inspected. Local health officials will conduct a visual inspection and dye testing to determine the capacity and structural integrity of the system. The Environmental Health Department will work with owners of failed systems to determine actions needed to repair or replace them in order to meet sanitary codes.

EPA Proposes New Strategies for Nitrogen Reduction in Long Island Sound
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has warned five states that they aren’t doing enough to reduce nitrogen in Long Island Sound. The EPA proposed new strategies to reduce nitrogen in a December letter to officials in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. Besides continuing to upgrade wastewater treatment plants, the EPA said nitrogen targets for each state would help reduce the amount of nitrogen reaching the Sound from other sources such as storm drains, septic systems and lawn fertilizers.

Colorado Sees Increase in Illegal Off-Grid Dwellings
Illegal dwellings are popping up all over Colorado as people look to cash in on the state’s new legal marijuana industry. It’s not known how many people are living off the grid with no running water, sanitation or proper heating systems. One fire chief in Park County said he counted 287 illegal homes in a single 50-mile drive, including RVs, campers, tents and makeshift structures. The county has hired two additional code enforcement officers and are updating zoning codes to make sure local ordinances properly regulate the dwellings.

Hawaiian Lawmakers Don’t Want Cesspools Banned Completely
With a new tax incentive program to encourage people to replace cesspools with modern septic systems, several legislators have asked Govern David Ige to not approve rule changes that would ban new cesspools all together. Hawaii is the only state that still allows new cesspools, with about 3,000 approved every year. In a February letter to Ige, the lawmakers say a proposed rule that would require all cesspools to be replaced would cost $1.5 billion just on the Big Island (Hawaii), which has more than 50,000 cesspools. They say a new septic system runs from $20,000 to $30,000 in Hawaii, while a cesspool costs $2,000 to $3,000.

The new tax credit became available January 1, 2016 and offers up to $10,000 to replace cesspools located within 200 feet of a shoreline, perennial stream, wetland or within a source water assessment program area over the next five years, with an annual cap of $5 million in credits.

Restrooms in Astoria Park Discovered Draining into River for Decades
Officials in Astoria, New York, say it will be 2019 before a popular park’s bathrooms can be reopened. Last spring, it was discovered that the bathrooms for Astoria Park Pool and nearby playground has been draining directly into the East River for decades because of an outdated septic system that had been installed in the 1930s. Portable restrooms are being used in the interim while repairs go through the community’s design and procurement process. 


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