Jamestown is a small, island town dependent on private drinking water wells and individual wastewater systems. Poorly maintained onsite wastewater systems on undersized lots with high seasonal water tables were affecting groundwater quality. Studies revealed that 32% of the wastewater treatment systems in the area were contributing to nutrient and pathogen problems in private water wells (Legislative Press and Public Information Bureau, 2006).
Jamestown adopted an ordinance requiring routine inspections of individual wastewater systems. A High Groundwater Table District also guides future development to protect drinking water quality.
To date, 94% of all septic systems have had an initial maintenance inspection.
Of the systems inspected:
- 35 failed (2%)
- 85 (5%) were found to be substandard systems (e.g., cesspools, systems with steel tanks)
- 1,488 passed (93%)
Since 2003, 50 systems have been subject to repair/replacement actions initiated by the town.
Property owners are responsible for ensuring that their system is operating properly and that it is maintained in good repair. Systems that do not meet applicable performance requirements can be subject to a repair or replacement order. Addressing malfunctioning systems helps to reduce nitrogen and pathogen pollution that pose threats to Jamestown’s drinking water sources.
Carmody® developed the management application for Jamestown in 2000 and is still hosting and operating the program today.
The Auburn Lake Trails Subdivision in California was developed during the 1970s and 1980s as a recreational community near Auburn Lake, with more than a 1,000 relatively small lots in an area with shallow, low-permeability soils and steep topography. When developers discovered that local soils could not treat the waste adequately to protect water resources upon full build-out, they proposed building a centralized sewage collection and treatment system. However, it was opposed by residents as too costly.
The community authorized the Georgetown Divide Public Utility District (PUD) to design and manage conventional and advanced treatment individual and clustered wastewater systems. The PUD developed an approach that links the required performance levels for treatment systems to health and environmental risk and where maintenance and monitoring schedules depend on the system type.
Carmody® developed the management program for Georgetown Divide Public Utility District (PUD) in 2010 and is still operating the program today.
Monroe County, Florida, is home to the Florida Keys and a complex and dynamic marine ecosystem—including the world’s third-largest coral reef. The county is also home to 30,000 individual wastewater systems that may contribute to excessive nutrients in near shore and offshore waters, leading to the deterioration of the reef and marine resources. Additionally, more stringent wastewater treatment standards adopted by the state also created challenges for conventional onsite systems.
MAINTENANCE CONTRACTS AND INSPECTIONS
Individual treatment system owners must enter into contracts with a maintenance entity to oversee the system’s operation. System owners must renew the maintenance contract each year for the life of the system. Maintenance entities are registered contractors certified by the product manufacturer to conduct maintenance services. The maintenance entity submits inspection reports and sampling results to the state as specified in the operating permit.
Maintenance contractors inspect permitted systems at least semiannually, and the county health department inspects the
systems annually. The county health department maintains system data in a statewide, web-based database that tracks all permits and inspections.
A state wastewater treatment standards law targeting Monroe County now requires the countywide use of advanced nutrient reduction systems, renewable operating permits, maintenance contracts, and annual inspections.
Currently, 3,065 individual wastewater treatment systems have been permitted, including 327 advanced treatment units. Florida Department of Health effluent limits for new systems discharging less than 100,000 gallons per day to the soil— including individual and clustered systems— include 10 mg/L for biochemical oxygen demand, total suspended solids, and total nitrogen, and 1 mg/L for total phosphorus, representing greater than 75% reductions over conventional septic systems. Effluent is sampled prior to soil discharge.
Carmody® developed a management application for the Monroe County Fl. (Florida Keys) 3,000+ nitrogen reduction septic systems to monitor their performance and tracked their regulatory compliance from 2001 until the Florida Keys connect its nitrogen reduction septic systems sewer.