Bill to relieve septic costs

Published 11:47 pm Friday, February 7, 2014

Del. Rick Morris says a bill he introduced during the current General Assembly session would have a positive impact on the pocketbooks of property owners relying on septic tanks.

The Carrollton delegate, whose 64th district includes a portion of Suffolk, would expand the list of professionals authorized to inspect septic tanks under the requirements of the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act.

It would allow for an onsite sewage operator, designer or soil evaluator to inspect tanks in addition to a sewage handler.

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Localities allow owners of certain onsite sewage treatment systems to submit documentation of inspection in lieu of pumping them out.

“The intent with HB1217 is to lower the cost of the inspection of these septic tanks for the citizen,” Morris said in a news release.

Scott Mills, the city’s planning director, said Suffolk has 4,900 septic tanks. He said they cost from $250 to $350 to have pumped out, while inspections run from $125 to $150. “Those are just ranges we have seen from receipts,” he added.

The proposed new legislation would not change the requirement that septic tanks need to be either pumped or certified, Mills observed. “Anything you can do to save is a positive thing,” he said of the bill.

The General Assembly enacted the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act in 1988 in an attempt to improve water quality of the bay and other state waters.

Localities in Tidewater were required to adopt programs based on the act as well as the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Designation and Management Regulations, which were adopted in 1989 and have been amended on three occasions since.

“Healthy state and local economies and a healthy Chesapeake Bay are integrally related; balanced economic development and water quality protection are not mutually exclusive,” the first line of the act reads.

The act charges the State Water Control Board with ensuring localities comply with the regulations; Morris’ bill expands the list of tank inspectors by directing the board to change its criteria for localities.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources. The House passed it in a block vote on Monday.