Torrey proposes septic system inspections

John Christensen

The Torrey Town Board has proposed yet another layer of government to regulate and tax all septic systems within the town. The next town meeting, Tuesday, Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m., will be a public hearing for the 10-page law and a six-page list of policies and procedures for the design and function of home wastewater treatment systems.

The proposed law creates another paid official, the Town of Torrey Watershed Inspector, and a three-member Wastewater Advisory Board, which, according to the law, will be include a member of the town board, the planning board, and an industry professional. There are also to be a new set of fees for all inspections and permits, and fines for any perceived violations.

The law creates two zones of regulation:

• Zone 1 for residents near Seneca Lake and the streams leading into it, and

• Zone 2 for all the rest of the town.

From the date of the law being made official, all septic systems must be officially and comprehensively inspected within five years in Zone 1 and 10 years for Zone 2, or within six months before any property transfer.

This comprehensive inspection requires that each system be uncovered and pumped under the gaze of the Watershed Inspector. This includes all tanks, pits, drop boxes, and distribution boxes. It also empowers the inspector to enter the home to inventory bedrooms, baths, and inspect all appliances, and pipes, and demand information from the residents as to their use.

All systems that don’t meet the criteria must be brought into compliance within 180 days of the inspector’s decree. The inspector will be empowered to issue “Notices of Non-Compliance” for minor issues, and “Notices of Violation” for more serious problems. The inspector will determine the schedule by which compliance must be met, and “each day of non-compliance shall be considered a separate offence” punishable by additional fines unless the Watershed Inspector is satisfied. The inspector’s powers even range to the condemnation of properties.

This law follows hard upon threatened property tax increases in Torrey due to the demand from AES for a reduction of their Payment in Lieu of Taxes on the Greenidge Power Plant from $1.1 million to $500,000 per year. Nowhere in the law is any mention made of financial assistance or programs available for households to cope with these new mandates.

Town Supervisor Patrick Flynn encourages all Torrey residents to read the law at and attend the meeting to make their opinions known to the town board.