Rules & Regs: Colorado Residents Concerned Development Will Harm Water Quality

Also in this month's regulations update, Jacksonville, Florida's plan to phase out septic tanks could take as long as 50 years

Rules & Regs: Colorado Residents Concerned Development Will Harm Water Quality

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A proposal to increase residential development in the Dolores River Valley has residents of Montezuma County, Colorado, concerned about water quality and density.

The county’s planning commission is recommending a decrease in the minimum lot size for a single-family home from 10 acres to 1 acre, according to The Journal of Cortez. Setback rules would also change. Instead of 100 feet, septic systems would have to be only 50 feet from the river, which is the state standard. The county forms the Colorado portion of the Four Corners area.

A 10-acre minimum lot size was established to help protect the quality of the region’s main water source. When The Journal reviewed public comments, it found most in favor of keeping the current density limit.

When he presented the recommended change, the commission chairman said modern engineered onsite systems provide sufficient protection for water. Those are already required for new construction, and that standard would remain in place for the Dolores River Valley.

New York Considers Nitrogen-Reduction Law for New Homes

In its latest move to fight water pollution, the Suffolk County (New York) Legislature is considering a requirement for nitrogen-reducing onsite systems for every new home. If approved, the rule would take effect next year.

In addition, the rule would require an advanced treatment unit for other buildings such as condominiums, multifamily housing, and commercial or industrial centers. Any expansion of a home or other project would also have to include an ATU if the expansion required an addition to, or modification of, the wastewater system.

Suffolk County, which occupies the eastern end of Long Island, has been working for several years to reduce pollution along its Atlantic Ocean shore. In 2017, the county banned cesspools, which were a common method of wastewater treatment, and some municipalities in the county also began requiring ATUs.

New Wastewater Ordinance Put to the Test in Indiana

A new wastewater ordinance for DeKalb County, Indiana, is having its first test as a few residents face a requirement to abandon their onsite systems and connect to a municipal sewer line.

Seven homes may be required to connect because the line is now within 300 feet of their properties. If a lift station is needed, the cost could reach $35,000 to $40,000, reports The Star of Kendallville. County commissioners voted to halt enforcement of the ordinance until the city finishes studying whether a lift station is necessary.

Commissioners will also consider changing the cost limit for connecting to sewer. Currently the ordinance requires a connection if sewer service would be less than 150% of the cost of new onsite treatment, but commissioners are thinking about decreasing that to 125%.

Jacksonville's Septic Tank Phaseout Could Take 50 Years

City leaders in Jacksonville, Florida, have been told a project to phase out septic tanks will be a long-term undertaking.

At a committee meeting in late August, Councilman Ron Salem said the project will not be accomplished in five or 10 years, but in 30 or 50 years. And the cost of replacing about 65,000 septic tanks will be approximately $2 billion, reports WJXT News.

A representative of JEA, the local power and water utility, says it will cost tens of thousands of dollars per home to carry out the conversion. That prompted one resident at the meeting to voice concern about whether the cost of abandoning onsite treatment could exceed the value of some properties.

Wisconsin Man Loses Lawsuit Against Pumper After Falling Through Lid

A court of appeals ruled against a man who sued a pumper because he fell through a septic tank lid.

In October 2016, David Steinke, who lives in the northern Wisconsin community of Hayward, stepped on a rusted tank lid and fell through it into the steel tank. He said he was in septage up to his chest, couldn’t climb out of the tank for 5 1/2 hours and suffered from recurring nightmares. He sued Scott’s Septic Pumping and its insurers for failing to warn him about the lid when they pumped his tank a month before.

But the pumper had warned Steinke about the lid three years previously, and about a month before the incident tried to warn him again, but Steinke did not respond to a knock on his door, according to news reports. The 3rd District Court of Appeals sided with a district court judge and found the pumping company was hired only to pump the tank and not to inspect or repair it.


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