Starkey considers new septic law

Starkey is considering new septic law

STARKEY – The city of Starkey will hold a public hearing on Thursday November 4th on a proposed new law on sewage treatment systems under the city’s jurisdiction.
The stated purpose of the new regulations is “to maintain and protect the public health and the quality of surface and groundwater in the city of Starkey by mandating the adequate performance of on-site wastewater treatment systems to reduce health hazards and negative effects on the environment.” to avoid”. . “
However, some local residents have raised their concerns about the new law through an online Facebook group and distributed petitions to local businesses. Some of the aforementioned sections of the law include fines of up to $ 250 per week or no more than 15 days in jail for violations. The law also explains how a search warrant can be used when a package owner fails to complete an inspection and denies access.
Mayor George Lawson said the public safety threat made the law necessary.
“By the end of this process, people at least know what kind of septic system they have … Sometimes problems can be fixed without a full replacement … If what you have doesn’t come to light, it may not be a bug,” said Lawson.
The new law, when enacted, distinguishes between properties that are within 60 meters of Lake Seneca or DEC classified streams and those that are not. A five year inspection schedule is required within the 200 foot limit. Other properties are mainly visited when they are sold or when a major expansion or change of use is made at the location.
The key to the inspection would be to examine a property’s distribution box.
“It all started with septic inspections of short-term rentals when we made these regulations,” Lawson said. “These inspections, which were mostly on the lake property, had an error rate of about 25 percent. The systems weren’t working safely, so it came to the fore that this is a problem.”
Much of the work in shaping the law, which is based on an already-in-place Canandaigua water catchment law, took place prior to the outbreak of COVID.
“We made some changes, but that initial work was done over two years ago,” added Lawson. “COVID came and broke the process on this law, so there is a gap as to when most of the work was done and now.”
If the bill is passed, property owners within the affected zone would have two years to have their systems checked and upgraded as needed before the city inspections began.
“The reason for the two-year period is because people are planning or figuring out, and I think most people are going to find that they don’t have a system that needs work,” Lawson said. “But by the end of this process people will at least know what kind of septic system they have.”
Lawson added that he expects some dismay at the proposed bill as it may cost some Starkey residents money for septic upgrades, but that the public safety issue requires it.
“During the short-term rental inspections, we found a septic tank with a pipe going east to the lake (with no junction box) that eventually went under the groundwater but continued to head for the lake,” Lawson said.
One thing the new law wouldn’t mandate is that existing systems that are working properly be updated with the current code.
“We know we will run into systems that do not meet current standards, but if they are working properly there is no need to fix them,” Lawson said. “I think this is one of the concerns of the people that you have to bring along [the system] according to current design standards. That’s not the case.”
Instead, the city is looking for systems that have either failed or have no distribution box.
“I encourage people to read the law, and we’ve set up a special email for residents who have concerns,” Lawson added.
The proposed law can be read at
The city’s email address for concerns about this project is [email protected]

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