Saturday, November 13, 2021

Discussion time: Septic inspections

lake george

This week on Adirondack Explorer’s website, we published an article about Lake George’s plans to create a wide-reaching septic inspection program.

From the article, by Zachary Matson:

There are over 6,000 septic systems within the Lake George Park boundaries, the primary waste-disposal system on nearly 70 percent of occupied parcels within the park. More than 3,400 fall within 500 feet of the lake or 100 feet of a stream that feeds the lake.

A committee tasked with developing an inspection program has started to coalesce around details that include a $50 annual fee for a once-every-five-years inspection requirement. Officials are still months away from adopting the new regulation that could serve as a model beyond Lake George.

Septic systems scattered throughout the Adirondack Park – near countless lakes, ponds, streams and rivers – could pose a much broader threat to water quality and public health. And advocates with an Adirondack-wide interest in water issues hope a new Lake George septic program could inform programs around the Adirondacks.

We want to hear from you: Is your home one of the ones impacted by these proposed changes? What do you think of septic inspection programs such as this?

Lake George photo/Almanack archive

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Melissa is a journalist with experience as a reporter and editor with the Burlington Free Press, Ithaca Journal and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. She worked as a communications specialist for the Adirondack North Country Association and is currently digital editor for Adirondack Explorer, overseeing both the Explorer's website and its community forum the Adirondack Almanack. She enjoys hiking, camping and other outdoors activities, and spending time with her husband, their twin daughters, and rescue animals -- two dogs and two cats.

8 Responses

  1. Smittty says:

    As a PA resident with a camp in the Adirondacks, I was amazed to find out how lax on-site sewage regulations are in NY. Most municipalities in PA, through a state-regulated sewage planning approval process, require proof that on-lot septic systems are pumped every three years. In our Adirondack community, I was surprised to find that some lake side camps have never had their septic tank pumped, unless it was one of the unfortunate camp owners that suffered a sewage back up. Even rental properties which house more residents than have originally designed seem to have no particular septic maintenance requirement. For a region that so greatly values its water resources this casual attitude about sewage disposal just doesn’t make much sense.

  2. Alan West says:

    All in favor of septic inspections. How much of that leeches into the lakes? Also need to address road salt; into ground waters, killing trees, and into lakes and streams.

  3. louis curth says:

    It is very brave of you Melissa to tackle this topic. Fifty years ago, I learned the hard way, when, as chairman, I wanted the UHEAC to sound the alarm about the huge environmental consequences of human overpopulation. I was bluntly advised that this subject was off limits, and as far as I can tell, it still is.

    Another discussion swirling around back then was about how we could increase APA protection for Adirondack lakes and ponds from rapidly expanding shoreline development. Sadly, meaningful shoreline restrictions were taken off the table in order to get the political traction needed for other equally important Adirondack environmental safeguards.

    Today, we are facing increasing water quality issues from septic tank pollution. It seems that the chickens are coming home to roost. I guess it’s the price we pay for sidestepping critical issues that we could have faced so long ago.

  4. ADKresident2 says:

    I have a septic system. It is within 1,000 feet of a river. I would welcome a park-wide septic inspection requirement to guard against the damage to valuable water resources that can result from defective or overburdened septic systems. Thanks for this article focusing attention on this issue.

  5. Oliver Holmes says:

    In the mid 70’s i went to work for NYSDEC and part of my responsibilities was to investigate sewage pollution complaints. Testing sanitary discharges involved putting orange dye into homeowners toilets and then looking for a discharge into lakes. Sometimes I had to run out since the flush did not go into a septic tank or leach field.

    There has been improvements since then but the proposed law regarding inspections is long overdue. I own a home in the Adirondacks and the tank is within 500 feet of the Hudson. As an engineer I understand the importance of maintaining a septic system and have it pumped as necessary.

  6. I live in Putnam Valley NY on Lake Oscawana and have very similar issues that Lake George is going through. Out lake is much smaller but we share the same concerns. We are sorta at odds with the town and our lake advisors about running a test using ProcellaCOR on our Eurasian milifoil. Also we were told notign can be done about the many many damaged septic systems aroudn the lake. How did the Lake George ge the ability to run testing on the septic systems throughout the Adirondack Park?

  7. I agree! It’s recommended to have your septic tank inspected at least every three years. If your tank is used more than the average home, you may consider more regular inspections. The problem is, most homeowners only schedule an inspection when something is wrong with their system.

  8. nathan says:

    every 5 years sounds very reasonable for inspection and we should be looking at things like soaps that we use for laundry and bathing and removing them if not enviromentally safe. but we have yet to see any results on how much road salt is damaging our waters also, and still seeing herbicides spread along roads all over the adirondacks

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