Rules and Regs: New Density Standards Allow More Septic Systems in Coastal New Jersey

In this month's regulations update, the land application ban holds in Florida, and new standards in New Jersey allow more development and will increase the number of septic systems in the Highlands region
Rules and Regs: New Density Standards Allow More Septic Systems in Coastal New Jersey

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More septic systems will be allowed under a change in density standards for New Jersey’s Highlands region, which stretches for 60 miles along the Atlantic Ocean and provides about 70 percent of the state’s drinking water. The current standard is one individual septic system for every 25 acres of non-forested areas and one for every 88 acres of forested land. The new standards will allow more development and are designed to maintain existing water quality using new data from a scientific analysis of nitrate levels by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The new density standard establishes three zones:

  • Developed communities (32,896 acres) – 1 system per 11-acre lot
  • Agricultural and woodlands (54,555 acres) – 1 system per 12-acre lot
  • Lands important to water quality protection (327,449 acres) — 1 septic system per 23 acres

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection says the new standards will increase the number of septic systems allowed in the region by about 12 percent. The proposal is subject to a comment period and a public hearing in June.

Homeowner with failed system faces big fine from Oregon DEQ
Failure to repair a septic system has drawn a big fine from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality against a Coos Bay homeowner. The man has been fined $4,553 for allowing untreated or partially treated sewage to be discharged onto the ground from a broken drainfield line. The agency also ordered the man to apply for a major repair permit, repair the system, enter into a contract with a licensed plumber, and have the septic tank pumped regularly until the repairs have been completed. The man was issued a warning letter on January 11, 2016, following at least eight inspections during 2015. He did not reply to the letter or attempt to make repairs, according to a complaint filed against him. The fine could be reduced based on the cost of the repairs once they are completed.

Land application ban holds in Florida
Despite efforts by the onsite industry to delay or overturn it, a ban on land application of septage in Florida goes into effect on June 30, 2016. The law was passed by legislature in 2010 and has survived many attempts to defeat it — the latest bills to repeal the law died in committees in both the Senate and House in March. Septage must now be disposed of at licensed treatment facilities and pumpers must provide a letter to the Department of Health proving that such arrangements have been made. Industry experts have said the ban could double or triple the cost of septic system pumpouts. 


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