Rules and Regs: Alabama Voters Reject Septage Spreading

Also in this month's regulations update, Suffolk County, New York, now requires advanced treatment systems for all new construction

Rules and Regs: Alabama Voters Reject Septage Spreading

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Voters in Talladega County, Alabama, decisively say septage may not be spread on land in the county. Although the county still had a few provisional ballots to count in the week after Election Day, the unofficial vote total was at 70% against land spreading with only 30% in favor.

Local Amendment 2 drew support from some members of the public and Coosa Riverkeeper. The Coosa River winds along the county’s western border, and septage was spread on land outside of nearby Lincoln. People may be recreating in the river and not know they are exposed to human waste, says Justin Overton, executive director of the Coosa Riverkeeper.

Resident Larry Phillips tells CBS 42 News that he’s worried about his cows because runoff from the septage spreading property comes onto his land.

But fewer municipal wastewater plants are accepting septage. A limited number of people are doing land application, and because the area is growing, eventually there won’t be any sites for land spreading, Charles Hall, executive director of the Alabama Onsite Wastewater Association, tells CBS 42.

“At some point there is very few places to put sewage that is pumped from a septic tank, so people with a septic tank are going to have a much higher fee to have to pay to get their septic tanks pumped,” says Hall.

The amendment will not affect biosolids, and farmer Phillips notes that someone raising chickens may still spread that manure.

Grant Program Aims to Reduce Bacterial Contamination in Virginia

People who live in the Upper Hazel River Watershed in Virginia are eligible for aid to help with the cost of pumping, maintaining, repairing or replacing their septic systems. The watershed covers portions of Rappahannock, Culpeper and Madison counties near the state’s western border.

Grants through the Culpeper Soil & Water Conservation District are intended to reduce bacterial contamination in local streams. In some streams, E. coli bacteria levels are higher than allowed by state water quality standards, reports the Rappahannock News of Washington, Virginia.

Reimbursements to property owners vary from 50% to 80% depending on income. For a 50% reimbursement level, a property owner may receive a maximum of $175 for a pumpout, $2,500 for a repair, $6,000 for a conventional system needing a pump to move effluent to a drainfield, or $12,000 for an alternative system.

Minnesota County Could Remove Onsite Inspection Triggers

Hubbard County, Minnesota, is considering the removal of some code provisions that trigger septic system inspections. The proposal is a reaction to the state’s change of its onsite inspection rules and would leave state-mandated inspections as the only type.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will begin requiring onsite professionals to drain a tank when inspecting it. Eric Buitenwerf, environmental service officer for Hubbard County, recently told county commissioners there is already a shortage of people who can do inspections. That shortage will only be made worse by the new rule, he says, according to the Park Rapids Enterprise.

Some southern and metro counties agree with the state rules change, he says, adding that there are other tools to deal with systems that are failing badly.

Suffolk County to Require Advanced Treatment for New Construction

A signature made it official: All new construction in Suffolk County, New York, must use advanced treatment systems to remove nitrogen.

“Protecting water quality is a top priority for both our region’s environment and our economy,” says County Executive Steve Bellone. He signed the new law on Oct. 15.

In addition to new homes and commercial buildings, advanced systems will be required for home renovations that increase the number of bedrooms to more than five and increase the building’s footprint. In order to aid businesses, the law allows more flexibility in the use of smaller wastewater treatment plants.

The law takes effect in July 2021. For several years, the county, which occupies the eastern end of Long Island, has focused on reducing water pollution by upgrading wastewater treatment. An estimated 380,000 residences in the county use cesspools to treat wastewater.


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