West Side Story … Septic Inspection and Remediation
Do you really think a septic inspection/remediation program will result in a cost effective AND environmentally effective wastewater solution?? If you do, please read the following information.
If you drive down Westside Drive, look for large mound septic systems. There are at least 10 of these. Some are blended into the landscape, some are not. They all are large and costly. They are on the road side for homes on the lake. They are behind the houses for homes on the railroad track side. Most, if not all, were installed over the past 15 years either due to an inspection failure during a property transaction or as a result of home renovations. These mounds were required because the soil would not meet current perc test requirements, not because the homeowners wanted to make the builders of the Egyptian pyramids jealous.
The following is an example of a mound septic system in which the homeowner was eager to share the details of his experience.
The home is a 1600 sq ft cape cod on 0.57 acres between Westside Drive and the lake. It was purchased in 2013. The purchaser required a septic inspection and the septic failed miserably. The seller remediated with a septic that met the existing town building code. It cost $23,000 (2013 dollars) to install at the seller’s expense and covers a 50’x40’ area (2,000 sq feet). It has 2 tanks and 1 pump. It dominates the property rendering the majority of the open space unusable.
Is this system cost effective compared to a sewer?? Not even close!! If you borrowed the $23,000 and paid it back over 30 years at current home improvement interest rates with good credit (5%), it would cost you $1,500 per year. You still have to have it pumped/inspected every few years, resulting in an additional average annual cost of at least $100 per year. Total cost is $1,600 per year. At the end of 30 years you will have a 30 year old septic, subject to the 2050 building code test requirements and ripe for another remediation. This compares to the annual sewer cost of $900 for the 30-year sewer debt and usage fee. With a sewer the $585 annual debt is paid off at 30 years and your annual expense drops significantly.
The worst part is that the homeowner, who is an engineer, is not even sure it works as intended!!! Yes, it met code, and it cost a lot of money, but does effluent really absorb through the underlying shale or merely leach out the side and down the hill into the lake?? If the upcoming sewer referendum does not pass and a septic inspection program is implemented, will the homeowner have to remediate it and put in a holding tank??