New Westchester County Septic System Regulations « Living Well in Westchester

In December ’08, the Westchester County Department of Health announced amendments to the law regulating Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (OWTS), better known as Septic Systems.

Boring stuff, right? Wrong!

Check this out… from Westchester County Law, Article VIII:

No person shall undertake to construct any major expansion of an existing building or structure requiring an onsite wastewater treatment system or to construct, install, replace, expand, remediate, alter, and/or modify such system without first having obtained the written approval for such system issued pursuant to the Public Health Law or by the commissioner.

Such onsite wastewater treatment system to serve any major expansion of an existing building or structure together with the existing building and structure shall comply with current standards, rules or regulations duly promulgated by the commissioner and with the terms or conditions of approval issued therefore or approved amendments thereto.

Major expansion of an existing building or structure shall be defined as any renovation or expansion of an existing residential building or structure resulting in a gross floor area increase of 100% or more, or 1,000 square feet or more, whichever is less, within any five year period; or resulting in an increase in the total number of bedrooms in such building or structure.

So, what does this mean?

It means that any project that expands a residence 1,000 square feet or more must comply with current septic design standards. Few current septic systems meet current standards.

If your home is served by a septic system and you are planning a project that will include a 1,000+ square foot addition and/or adding bedrooms, be prepared to include evaluation, modification or replacement of your septic system in your budget.

The County did a poor job of informing the public and professional community of the coming regulation changes. I recently attended a meeting of my local AIA chapter where this issue was discussed. An informal poll of 70+ architects in the room found that NONE were notified of the public hearings, which occurred in early ’08. Most discovered the new rules earlier this year, only after submitting a 1,000+ square foot project to a local building department and triggering Health Department review.

Our job gets more difficult everyday.

This is going to get very interesting. Stay tuned…

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