Rules and Regs: New York Stops Dumping Cost Increase

Also in this month’s update, tax issues surface around Suffolk County grant money used to replace failing onsite systems

Rules and Regs: New York Stops Dumping Cost Increase

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Septage dumping costs in the Catskill Mountains of New York will remain the same because a New York City agency reversed an earlier decision to curtail the amount of septage it accepts.

In February, the city’s Department of Environmental Protection decided its wastewater treatment facilities in the Catskills would accept only 26,000 gallons of septage per week instead of the current 71,000 gallons, reported the Albany Times Union. In April, Paul V. Rush, the department’s deputy commissioner, wrote a letter saying the city would continue to accept the larger volume of waste for the time being.

The city department has accepted septage from residents and municipal septic districts in the Catskills since 2016 because of a memorandum of understanding with Catskills communities. In exchange for accepting septage, the city was allowed to buy land to protect water quality in its Catskills reservoirs. The city now owns about 200 square miles of land.

Catskill Watershed Corp. runs the septage program, and Jason Merwin, its executive director, said the reduction in septage volume was intended in part to allow the department to compost solids at wastewater plants. But without the ability to dump septage locally, he said, pumpers would have had to make 160-mile round trips to Albany. A Greene County Legislature committee said the cost of pumping a tank would have increased from about $300 to about $1,000.

Despite the city’s reversal of its earlier decision, Assemblyman Chris Tague of Schoharie said the issue is not gone. “I think this is an easy quick fix, and I think (the DEP and the CWC) are going to have to continue to meet and come up with what they’re going to do in the future.”

Grants available to replace failed onsite systems in Waseca County, Minnesota

Waseca County, Minnesota, is offering grants to help property owners replace failing onsite systems. The grants will pay up to $20,000 of the total cost of a new system. Permit fees and any costs greater than the amount of the grant are the responsibility of the grant recipient.

Among other requirements, systems eligible for replacement must have been rated noncompliant by a certified inspector, the property owner must have a payment plan with an approved contractor, and all work must be done by a certified installer.

Eligibility of property owners is based on income. For example, gross annual incomes must not exceed $41,900 for a family of one, $47,900 for a family of two, $53,900 for a family of three, and $59,850 for a family of four.

More information is available on the county’s website.

Maine city delays proposed change to onsite system ordinance

The city council in Auburn, Maine, delayed a proposed onsite ordinance change for Lake Auburn until at least June.

Several council members said they were uncomfortable moving ahead on the proposed ordinance without more information from the planning board and from a city consultant, reported the Sun Journal of Lewiston.

The proposed ordinance would allow the use of alternative soils in designing systems, which has not been allowed in the lake’s watershed and has restricted development there. Officials and city staff say the updated ordinance will result in better performance of onsite systems when combined with newly passed phosphorus standards. 

Pennsylvania town to require pumpouts, inspections

Supervisors in Watts Township, Pennsylvania, recently approved an ordinance requiring landowners to pump and inspect their onsite systems every three years.

One-third of property owners will receive notices this year requiring them to hire a licensed onsite professional to clean and inspect their system. Of the first 222 lots, 157 need the cleaning and inspection, said Jerry Spease, the township engineer. The next third of property owners will receive notices next year, and the final third will receive them in 2024, reported the Perry County Times.

If a system was inspected in the year prior to the notice, the owner may obtain a waiver until the next three-year cycle is due.

Minnesota county receives funds to assist low-income residents with systems

Crow Wing County, Minnesota, has $60,897 from the state to help low-income residents deal with failing onsite systems.

Funding will be a 3%, 60-month loan from the Region Five Development Commission. Eligibility for assistance will depend on the cost of the system and household income. Priority will be given to low- and very-low-income people.

Information and an online grant application are available here

Tax issues surface around Suffolk County grant money

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and other officials said in April that the Internal Revenue Service has failed to stop taxing homeowners for the county grants used to upgrade their onsite systems.

Bellone urged the IRS to reverse its 2020 ruling that said grant money counts as income because grants were not based solely on need and because homeowners exercised some management of the payment. As a result, said one news report, some homeowners saw their tax bills increase by as much as $8,000 while others chose not to participate in the grant program because of the potential for taxation. Bellone said the IRS had agreed to end the taxation last year and has failed to do so.

The county occupies the eastern tip of Long Island, and the grant program began in 2017 as part of the effort to combat nitrogen pollution along the county’s Atlantic Ocean coast. The IRS ruled in response to a query from Suffolk County Comptroller John Kennedy. In 2019 he issued forms declaring the grants are taxable income for homeowners although the grant money was paid directly to installers who paid tax on it as business income.

Idaho city to increase dumping fees

The Rigby (Idaho) City Council voted to increase septage dumping fees at its wastewater plant by 13% in each of its waste categories. It has been four years since the last fee adjustment, said Scott Humphries of the city wastewater treatment plant.

At a public meeting in April, no one spoke for or against the increase, reported the Jefferson Star of Idaho Falls.

When the city reaches the point of upgrading the plant, the fee will increase again, Mayor Richard Datwyler told the newspaper. 

Great Lakes group offers low-interest loans to Indiana property owners

The Great Lakes Community Action Partnership is offering low-interest loans to Indiana property owners who need to upgrade failing onsite systems.

Loans may be for amounts up to $15,000 and have a maturity of 20 years and an interest rate of 1%. Applicants must own the home or be in the process of buying it, reported the News and Tribune of Jeffersonville, Indiana.

Money is also available from the U.S. Agriculture Department Rural Development agency. The 504 loan program offers a 1% interest rate and 20-year maturity. The 504 grant program is for the removal of health and safety hazards if one applicant is age 62 or older, and the 502 loan program has a 33-year maturity with higher interest rates and a higher household income limit. 

Virginians eligible for onsite system repair grants

People in parts of the Chesapeake Bay counties of Gloucester, Middlesex and Mathews in Virginia are eligible for grants to help pay for onsite system repairs, inspections and replacements.

Money comes from the state Department of Environmental Quality and is intended to reduce bacterial pollution that has reduced shellfish harvests in the Piankatank River and around Gwynn Island.

Grant funds will cover 50% of the cost of onsite system inspections and maintenance, repairs and installation of a conventional or advanced treatment system to replace a failing system. People living on Gwynn Island and in the Piankatank River and Milford Haven watersheds are eligible for grants. There is no income limit for receiving a grant.

More information is available from the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission.


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