Contractor Listing - Sewage Disposal Systems
To ensure that residents of the community do not experience disease, adverse health effects or nuisances resulting from improperly or inadequately treated sewage.
The Board of Health is charged with the enforcement authority of the Sanitary Code of the Niagara County Health District. Chapter 3, which pertains to Wastewater Treatment and Disposal applies to the construction and use of a new or modified on-site wastewater treatment and disposal system of residential and commercial properties and receiving sewage without the admixture of industrial wastes or other wastes as defined in the Environmental Conservation Law, Section 17-0701, in quantities of less than 1000 gallons per day.
- Designs replacement onsite sewage disposal systems for existing homes (see link to an application below).
- Reviews and approves plans for onsite sewage disposal systems for new construction (vacant lots). The plans must be designed and prepared by a licensed NYS Professional Engineer (see plan submittal requirements and P.E. list below).
- Conducts inspections (dye test) of onsite sewage disposal systems on existing properties prior to their sale (see application below).
- Reviews and approves inspections (dye test) of onsite sewage disposal systems completed by private engineers prior to sale of properties (see submittal requirements below).
- Responds to all complaints pertaining to improperly or inadequately treated sewage.
- Answers any questions and provides technical assistance pertaining to onsite sewage treatment and disposal.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is a septic system?
A septic system treats and disposes of household wastewater on properties that do not have public sewers available. A typical system consists of a septic tank, distribution box, and leach lines. The first component, the septic system allows heavy wastes settle to the bottom and light solids and grease flow to the top. Liquid wastewater from the septic tank discharges into a distribution box where the wastewater is evenly distributed to the leach lines. Here the wastewater is purified by filtration and decomposition by microorganisms in the soil.
What is a soil percolation test?
A soil percolation (“perc”) test measures the rate at which water moves through the soil and is part of the process when designing an onsite sewage disposal system. The stabilized rate must be less than 60 minutes per inch at a standard depth of 24-inches to allow for the installation of leach lines into the existing soil.
What other considerations must be taken into account when designing an onsite sewage disposal system?
Impervious soil conditions (i.e. tight clay), seasonal high groundwater conditions, and site topography also factor in when designing the system. A minimum two (2) foot separation is required in between the bottom of the leach lines and an impervious soil and/or high groundwater condition.
What if a soil percolation test does not pass?
A standard subsurface sewage disposal system (septic tank and leach lines) can be installed when the soil percolation test passes at the standard depth of 24-inches and there are no concerns with impervious soils or groundwater within a depth of four (4) feet. A shallow trench system can be installed when the standard percolation test passes, but there is an impervious soil and/or groundwater condition less than four (4) feet. This involves the placement of acceptable fill material in the leach field area. The leach lines then can be raised up providing the minimum two (2) separation between the bottom of the leach lines and the impervious soil and/or high groundwater condition. The trenches still extend into the existing soil.
If the soil percolation test does not pass at the standard depth of 24-inches then a modified test can be conducted. A modified test passes if a stabilized rate of less than 60 minutes per inch is achieved at a minimum depth of 12-inches. Seasonal groundwater must not be higher than 12-inches as well. In this instance, a raised system can be installed. This involves the placement of 24” to 36” of approved fill in the leach field area and the leach lines are installed in the fill area and above the original ground. This system must be dosed and requires a pump tank, pump, and all appurtenances.
If standard and modified percolation testing fails, then a sand filter sewage disposal system is the next option. This system consists of a septic tank, buried sand filter bed, chlorination set up, pump tank (with pump and all appurtenances), and a final raised polishing filter. The main treatment unit in this system is the sand filter bed.
Other system options include deep absorption trenches, cut and fill systems, and seepage pits but are rarely seen in Niagara County due to soil and groundwater conditions. Aeration units may be allowed, but only on sites with severe space limitations and where no other system is feasible.
IN GENERAL THE WORSE THE SOIL AND GROUNDWATER CONDITIONS ARE, THE MORE EXPENSIVE THE SYSTEM WILL BE.
Can I install a septic system or repair an existing septic system without approval?
No person shall construct, install, connect, alter, or extend any sewage disposal system within the Niagara County Health District without having filed for and received written approval from the Public Health Director.
What about septic system operation and maintenance?
This Department has literature available (see link below) on proper septic system operation and maintenance.
What is a dye test?
A dye test evaluates the operation of a homes onsite sewage disposal system. Green fluorescent dye tablets are introduced into the system via the house plumbing. Inspections of the onsite sewage disposal system, property, and surroundings are conducted over a five (5) to seven (7) day period to determine if the system is functioning properly. The homeowner is required to run a minimum amount of water based upon the number of bedrooms inside the home and the length (in days) of the dye test. If the system is functioning properly no green fluorescent dye test or improperly treated sewage will be found on the ground surface or into any surface waters.
Any other requirements for a dye test?
There are several things the homeowner must be aware of. The home must be occupied for thirty (30) days prior to the start of the test. The septic tank can not be pumped out within thirty (30) days of the start of the test. Testing cannot be conducted during periods of frozen ground and snow cover (typically January thru March)
All wastewater drains (includes laundry and other “gray water”) from the house must be routed into the onsite sewage disposal system. The sump pump can only collect uncontaminated groundwater and discharge to an area remote from the onsite sewage disposal system.
A sand filter sewage disposal system is not dye tested. A sample of the effluent is collected and analyzed for various parameters including chlorine residual, total suspended solids, settleable solids, and biological oxygen. The results determine whether or not the sand filter sewage disposal system is functioning properly.
FEES FOR SERVICES as of January 1, 2013
Private sewage disposal system
-design plan review $225
-design, inspection and construction certification $295
-testing and/or evaluation (ownership transfer) – standard system $425
-testing and/or evaluation (ownership transfer) – sand-filter system $495
-engineering “dye test” report review $190
LINKS TO DEPARTMENT RELATED FORMS
LINKS TO RECOMMENDED PUBLICATIONS