Rules and Regs: Indiana Legislature Aims to Limit Inspections of Residential Onsite Systems

Also in this month’s update, the septic inspection cycle continues in Lake George region

Rules and Regs: Indiana Legislature Aims to Limit Inspections of Residential Onsite Systems

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Two bills limiting inspections on residential septic systems have passed in the Indiana house of representatives and will go before the senate later in the year, as reported by the Indiana Capital Chronicle.

Under House Bill 1352, septic system inspections are allowed after installation only if required by the manufacturer, requested by the owner, or if a complaint is filed with the Indiana Department of Health. 

House Bill 1329 prevents a government entity from requiring inspections upon sale of a property. The author of the bill, Rep. Jim Pressel, R-Rolling Prairie, believes it’s the homeowner’s responsibility, not the government’s, to maintain and inspect their septic system, while David Bottorff, executive director of the Association of Indiana Counties, argues it’s important for the public to know that septic systems are working correctly. 

Critics worry fewer inspections would increase the number of failing systems. The Indiana Department of Health estimates 200,000, or about one-fourth, of septic systems in Indiana are in conditions ranging from inadequate to complete failure, possibly creating risks to humans and the environment. 

Wilmington officials discuss septic system overuse in short-term rentals

Changes to Wilmington, New York’s land use code regarding short-term rentals are being considered, reported the Lake Placid News

Section 3J requires a building owner to include a septic inspection report in their application for an STR permit and subsequent renewals. Permits currently expire after two years. The proposed change would be one year. 

The proposed change came out of concerns about the number of occupants commonly found in short-term rentals. Bedrooms are often overcrowded and living rooms are used for sleeping. This results in more people using the septic system than it was designed for, which is based on the number of bedrooms. 

The issue is in preliminary stages of the process, and the STR 12-member citizens committee is seeking input from City Council and the public.

Cost-share program to help replace septics in Polk County, Minnesota

Residents in Polk County, Minnesota, who have noncompliant septic systems can now apply for funds from a cost-share program to help finance repairs or the cost of replacement, reported KROX Radio. The county has received a grant from the Minnesota Clean Water Legacy Act for this purpose. 

Funds are limited, so preference will be given based on income status, condition of the septic system, and proximity to surface water. In addition, funds are only for primary residences, not second homes, rentals or new construction. 

Funds will cover up to 80% of installation costs up to a maximum of $12,000. 

Septic inspection cycle continues in Lake George region

After discovery in 2020 of a potentially harmful algal bloom in Lake George in the Adirondack region of New York, the Lake George Park Commission began a two-year planning process. In 2023 a septic inspection program was put into place, allowing the commission to inspect each of the 2,458 properties in a designated area nearest the lake every five years, in a rotating schedule of approximately 500 properties each year.

The first year’s data, which covered 332 properties, has now been released and indicates over 50% of the septic systems need attention, reported the Post-Star. This breaks out as 16% need simple repairs, 15% are substandard or undersized and 23% need to be replaced. 

Dave Wick, executive director of the commission, told the Post-Star that the design life for most septic systems is around 30 to 40 years, while many of the systems in Lake George Park are 50 years old or older. The problem is not that septage is leaking into the lake, but rather nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen from the filtration process end up in the water causing algae growth. In septic systems that have exceeded their design life, the soil is no longer able to take up all of the phosphorus and nitrogen it needs to, Wick said.

Systems must be brought into compliance before the next inspection cycle. Homeowners may apply for grant money to help with 50% of the cost of repairs, up to $10,000.

New York county participates in septic repair program

Greene County legislators in New York have authorized participation in Round 4 of the New York State Septic System Repair Program, reported The Mountain Eagle. Eligible residents may apply for grants for up to 50% of the cost of replacing a system.

A goal of the grant program is to protect and improve the quality of water resources by helping homeowners replace failing septic systems near those resources. The Department of Environmental Conservation has a priority list of bodies of water in Greene County.

Texas city reduces minimum lot size for septic installation

The Bastrop, Texas, city council has approved changes to the city code reducing the minimum lot size to install a septic tank from 1 acre to 1/2 acre, reported BNN Breaking. The amendment is in response to increasing population density that many urban areas are experiencing across the country.

Vancouver, Washington, funds septic elimination program

Clark Regional Wastewater District in Vancouver, Washington, has been expanding its public sewer system and is making its way through the 40 neighborhoods not currently on the system. 

The Sunset Strip neighborhood was the most recent. Homeowners there now have the option of decommissioning their septic tanks and connecting to the sewer, reported The Columbian

As part of the Septic Elimination Program, eligible homeowners are given help with the process. They pay a $13,000 connection fee instead of the normal $30,000. The monthly service fee is $45.

Many septic systems in the area are 30 to 50 years old, causing a concern for potential health risks.

India’s government introduces septic and sewer cleaning robots

The Indian government’s Ministry of Science and Technology announced that septic cleaning robots are being introduced in India in an effort to better manage municipal solid waste, reported Republic World. The device, called Homosep Atom, was developed by Solinas, a startup company, working through the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras in its business incubator program.

The robots are equipped with artificial intelligence. They have been used in 16 cities to date, cleaning septic tanks and sewers. Functions include blade cleaning, solid waste desilting, suction and storage. Authorities believe the units provide improved safety for sanitation workers and an efficient cleaning process.


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