8. Lamoka Waneta Lakes Wastewater Treatment Inspection Program

In the summer of 2006 the Towns of Tyrone, Orange and Wayne all passed look-a-like wastewater management laws (Tyrone version available by here) in an effort to address excess nutrient loading and underperforming OWTS on Lamoka and Waneta Lakes. These local laws establish mandatory minimum standards and maintenance requirements for onsite wastewater treatment systems on properties with access or deeded lake access (i.e. those properties within the Lamoka Waneta Lakes Water Quality Improvement District).

These laws are the result of a largely grassroots effort by lake front property owners, the Lamoka Waneta Lakes Association and the Schuyler County Water Quality Coordinating Committee, to require all property owners to do their part to ensure the water quality of their shared resource.

As this is a new regulation impacting existing real property infrastructure, a certain amount of unease and uncertainty is to be expected from affected property owners. However, taking the time to obtain all of the facts and to understand the reasoning behind the regulation can go a long way in assuaging the apprehension one may feel.
The WPA is charged with conducting and implementing the Lamoka Waneta Lakes Wastewater Treatment System Inspection Program. This office handles all inspections in the Towns of Tyrone and Orange, while the Town of Wayne Watershed Inspector handles those inspections in the Town of Wayne (office telephone number – 607-292-3450). All questions regarding this program should be directed to Darrel Sturges at 607- 535-6868, while all interviews and inspection scheduling questions should be directed to Jim Howell, 607- 535-6869(Tyrone and Orange properties) Maureen Kurtz, 607-292-3450, (Wayne).

Typical sequence* for a LW Inspection:
  • Listed property owner receives a letter from WPA (or Town of Wayne) and contacts Inspector promptly (preferably within 10 working days).
  • Inspector reviews available information on file and discuss any known system history. Ascertain any system deficiencies if appropriate and/or known.
  • Schedule a licensed Septic Hauler/Contractor to meet with the Inspector on site to pump the septic tank during normal working hours. WPA inspector must witness the tank pumping.
  • WPA inspector conducts inspection, witnessing the septic tank pumping and assesses absorption component. Distribution box and/or seepage pit need only be uncovered if a problem is suspected.
  • Upon completion of inspection, either a “Certificate to Operate” will be issued, or a Minor/Major Failure will have been documented. Any failure will require a “Compliance Agreement” as well as any pertinent permits.
*typical sequence is highly variable and is provided for general quick reference only. See additional information below and/or contact the WPA.

Additional LW Inspection Information

No fee is required for the LW Inspection. However all costs associated with locating, uncovering and pumping the septic tank, as well as any system repairs, upgrades and replacement components (including applicable permit and design fees) are the responsibility of the landowner.

As per the local law all OWTS within the regulated area shall be inspected by the appropriate Inspector a minimum of once every five years, on a cyclical basis. Correspondence will be initiated by the WPA (or Town of Wayne) via a letter to the listed property owner. Upon receipt of the letter, the property owner is requested to contact the Inspector within ten working days, or as soon as possible.

Property transfer inspections shall constitute a LW Lake Inspection (i.e. restart the minimum five year cycle), however, a recent LW Inspection may not be adequate for a real estate property transfer.

Any routine maintenance, such as septic tank pumping, which is coordinated by a landowner, will not constitute a LW Inspection if the Inspector is not present. If a landowner plans on having their septic tank pumped for any reason, it is highly encouraged to contact the Inspector so as to schedule their LW Inspection at the time of their pumping to re-establish a new pumping cycle.

At the point of contact with the Inspector, a review of all system components on file will be reviewed. Additionally any pertinent property and system use details by the property owner should be discussed.

Following the initial contact, and if no known system deficiency’s exist, the landowner shall contact a licensed DEC waste hauler to schedule an appointment with the inspector and a hauler. It is strongly encouraged that the owner or their representative be present. If requested by the inspector, access shall be granted to view all indoor plumbing fixtures.

At the time of the inspection, the Inspector must be present to witness the tank pumping. The distribution box and/or seepage pit shall only be required to be uncovered if a problem is suspected.

Following the inspection, a “Certificate to Operate” will be issued if the wastewater treatment system appears to be in full compliance with the local Wastewater Management Law. In the event of either a Minor or Major Failure a “Compliance Agreement” outlining required corrective actions will be issued.

Examples of minor failures include, but are not limited to, use of corroded metal tanks, metal pump tanks, undersized septic tanks, missing baffles and other tank integrity issues. Additionally, for all LW Inspections the septic tank must be within 250 gallons of the minimum state standards and must be structurally sound. For instance, the minimum tank size for a 3 bedroom home is 1000 gallons. If a 3 bedroom home being inspected currently has a 500 gallon tank, additional tank volume is required (adding in sequence or installing new) and will be included in the “Compliance Agreement.” Any cracks, leaks, missing baffles, corroded steel septic tanks or other tank integrity issues must be corrected as per the “Compliance Agreement” within the time period specified.

Major failures include those situations involving the direct discharge of untreated sewage into ground or surface waters constituting a public health concern, and must be corrected and/or eliminated immediately, or as soon as possible.

All aspects of NYS DOH regulations, Schuyler County Watershed Protection Law and other pertinent rules and regulations still apply.

Additional Pertinent Sections
Replacing an onsite wastewater treatment system for an existing home
Performing a repair to an existing onsite wastewater treatment system