Septic systems, also called on-lot systems, are really sewage systems that treat and dispose of domestic sewage through natural processes. Liquid wastes from a treatment tank percolate through soils where it then becomes neutralized and further broken down. In contrast to a centralized system, which collects and treats sewage from multiple homes and disposes of the sewage off-site, septic system operation and maintenance is the responsibility of the homeowner.
In 2006, the Township in conjunction with the other municipalities in the Centre Region implemented a new on-lot sewage management program as part of the Centre Region Act 537 Sewage Facilities Plan. As a result, all parcels located outside of the adopted Regional Growth Boundary are now part of a sewage management district and are subject to the following regulations:
- Any on-lot disposal system may be inspected by the municipality’s certified Sewage Enforcement Officer (SEO) or authorized agent at any reasonable time, but in no case shall an inspection of every on-lot disposal system be conducted less frequently than once every six (6) years.
- The inspection may include a physical tour of the property, the taking of samples from surface water, wells, other ground water sources, the sampling of the contents of the sewage disposal system itself and/or the introduction of traceable substance into the interior plumbing of the structure served to ascertain the path and the ultimate destination of wastewater generated in the structure.
- A copy of the inspection report shall be furnished to the owner and current resident, which shall include all of the following information: date of inspection; name and address of system owner; description and diagram of the location of the system, including location of access hatches, risers, and markers; size of tanks and disposal field; current occupants name and number of users; indication of any system malfunction observed; results of any and all soils and water tests; and any remedial action required.
- The municipality’s certified SEO or authorized agent shall have the right to enter upon land for the purposes of inspections described above. In the event access to inspect the property is denied, the following steps shall be taken:
- The matter will be officially referred to the governing body for action.
- The governing body may schedule a review at the next scheduled meeting of the Board of Supervisors or, if the situation threatens the health or safety of the residents of the municipality the Board may commence an immediate procedure to obtain a search warrant from the District Justice.
- Upon receipt of a search warrant to inspect the property, the certified SEO or authorized agent shall be accompanied by an officer of the municipal or State Police and the inspection shall be completed.
- A routine inspection of each sewage disposal system in the Township will be scheduled every six (6) years to assure the proper function of all systems in the Township.
- The SEO or authorized agent shall inspect systems known to be, or alleged to be, malfunctioning. Should said inspections reveal that the system is indeed malfunctioning, the SEO shall take action to require the correction of the malfunction. If total correction is not technically or financially feasible in the opinion of the SEO and a representative of DEP, then action by the property owner to mitigate the malfunction shall be required.
- A permit shall be required by the Township for alterations or connections to an existing individual or community on-lot sewage system when the alteration or connection requires the repair, replacement or enlargement of a treatment tank or retention tank, or the repair, replacement, disturbance, modification or enlargement of a soil absorption area or spray field, or the soil within or under the soil absorption area or spray field.
- There may arise geographic areas within the Township where numerous on-lot sewage disposal systems are malfunctioning. A resolution of these area-wide problems may necessitate detailed planning and a municipally sponsored revision to the Centre Region Act 537 Official Sewage Facilities Plan. When a DEP authorized Sewage Facilities Plan Revision has been undertaken by the municipality, mandatory repair or replacement of individual malfunctioning sewage disposal systems within the study area may be delayed, at the discretion of the municipality, pending the outcome of the plan revision process. However, the municipality may compel immediate corrective action whenever a malfunction, as determined by municipal officials and/or DEP, represents a serious public health or environmental threat.
- Any person owning a building served by an on-lot sewage disposal system within a sewage management district shall have the septic tank pumped by a qualified pumper/hauler every three (3) years. Thereafter, that person shall have the tank pumped at least once every three (3) years.
- An option will be provided to allow the property owner to request a waiver from pumping every three (3) years if, because of tank size, household size, or seasonal use, it is determined by the SEO that such pumping is not needed. In such cases, a waiver from pumping can be granted at the discretion of the SEO when an inspection of the tank by the SEO reveals that the solids are less than one-third the liquid depth of the tank.
- The required pumping frequency may be increased at the discretion of the SEO, or authorized agent if the septic tank is undersized, if solids buildup in the tank is above average, if the hydraulic load on the system increases significantly above average, if a garbage grinder is used in the building, if the system malfunctions or for other good cause shown.
- Any person owning a building served by an on-lot sewage disposal system which contains an aerobic treatment tank shall follow the operation and maintenance recommendations of the equipment manufacturer. A copy of the manufacturer’s recommendations and a copy of the service agreement shall be submitted to the Township. Service receipts shall be submitted to the Township at the intervals specified by the manufacturer’s recommendations. In no case may the service or pumping intervals for aerobic treatment exceed those required for septic tanks.
- Any person owning a building served by a cesspool or dry well shall have that system pumped according to the schedule prescribed for septic tanks as noted above. As an alternative to this scheduled pumping of the cesspool or dry well, the owner may secure a sewage permit from the SEO for a septic tank to be installed preceding the cesspool or dry well. For a system consisting of a cesspool or dry well preceded by an approved septic tank, only the septic tank must be pumped at the prescribed interval.
- The Township may require additional maintenance activity as needed including, but not necessarily limited to, cleaning and unclogging of piping, servicing and the repair of mechanical equipment, leveling of distribution boxes, tanks and lines, removal of obstructing roots or trees, the diversion of surface water away from the disposal area, etc.
Each time a septic tank or other subsurface waste disposal tank is pumped out, a private septage pumper/hauler shall provide to the owner of the on-lot disposal system a signed pumper’s report/receipt containing, at a minimum, the following information:
- Date of pumping
- Name and address of system owner.
- Address of tank’s location, if different from owner’s
- Amount of septage or other solid or semi-solid material removed.
- Destination of septage (name of treatment facility).
Upon completion of each required pumping, the pumper/hauler shall fill out and submit a pumper’s report/receipt. The pumper/hauler shall provide one copy of the pumper’s report/receipt to the owner and one copy to the Centre Region Code Office. Copies must be received by Centre Region Code within 30 days of the date of pumping.
Citations are filed with the District Justice's office against all property owners who fail to comply with the Township's regulations or meet the compliance deadline.