Septic Issues Discussed

November 20, 1991

About 10 septic waste haulers expressed concerns about plans for operating a treatment facility and the county's proposed rates for dumping the waste at a meeting with county planners Monday.

The 9-cents-per-gallon dumping fee proposed by the county would be passed from waste haulers to owners of private septic tanks, which should be pumped at least once every three years for residences and once per year for commercial establishments.

Septic tanks that aren't pumped regularly can cause ground water and land contamination.

The county has an agreement with Westminster to operate the facility jointly. The city has agreed to operate and maintain the facility, while the county will collect fees from haulers and reimburse the city for costs.

A state mandate requires that all counties treat waste from septic tanks in their jurisdictions beginning Jan. 1. The mandate complies with a new federal law requiring treatment before the waste is channeled to sewage treatment plants or applied to land.

Haulers pumping Carroll tanks traditionally have spread the untreated waste on fields or transported it to facilities in other counties for treatment.

The county is applying for an extension from the state because the Westminster facility is not expected to be completed until about mid-January, said planners.

The homeowners whose septic system contains the average 800 gallons would pay about $175 every three years to have the system pumped and the waste treated. The average fee charged by haulers for pumping tanks is about $80 to $100, with the per-gallon fee constituting the remainderof the total estimated cost.

Currently, owners of Carroll's approximately 21,000 private septic tanks pay no per-gallon fee because noseptic waste treatment facility exists in the county.

Haulers raised concerns that proposed operating hours of the facility are too limited, that the 26,000 gallon daily capacity of the plant is too small to handle peak demand, and that the per-gallon rate is excessive, especially compared with that of surrounding jurisdictions.

Haulerssaid they believed more people would defer having their septic systems pumped because of the increased costs.

"Then it becomes a waterquality problem, and the neighbor's problem in a hurry," said Marlene Conaway, county assistant planning director. She added that the per-gallon charge has been calculated to pay for operating and maintenance costs, and could be adjusted after a year if it proves too high.

One hauler suggested spreading the per-gallon charge over several years on county tax bills.

Conaway said the county is exploring alternatives that would enable haulers to store waste for a short periodbefore dumping or deposit the waste at facilities in other jurisdictions during peak times.

"This is all new for us," she said.

There are 14 licensed septic waste haulers in the county.

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