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Murrysville puts septic tank ordinance on hold for review

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By Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

A proposed update to Murrysville's septic tank ordinance could reduce “burdensome” mandates for residents with on-lot sewage disposal systems, the municipality's chief administrator told council this week.

After listening to five residents' concerns about the ordinance on Wednesday, council decided to hold off on publicly advertising the ordinance. Council will post it online for residents to review and will discuss the document again in November.

“(The ordinance) puts the burden of the maintenance of the systems on the landowner, where they properly should be,” Chief Administrator Jim Morrison said.

The new rules would require property owners to inspect their systems within a year of the ordinance's approval, then annually thereafter, he said. If the tank is one-third full, it must be pumped.

That's a change from current rules, which mandate that on-lot systems be pumped at least once every three to five years.

Under the proposed plan, homeowners are required to keep a record of their septic tank management. Council President Joan Kearns compared it to “a maintenance schedule, like you would do for your car.”

The updated plan removes the requirement for the landowner to submit proof of maintenance receipts to the municipality.

“They're not required to turn in anything unless there's a failing system,” Morrison said.

After the tanks are pumped, sludge can be trucked to any disposal facility approved by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

However, Jim Brucker, manager of the Franklin Township Municipal Sanitary Authority, said he doesn't want the waste brought to his facility because it's not cost-effective.

“I can't start up this equipment to treat one small load,” Brucker said.

Residents' concerns centered on what exactly the annual inspection entails.

Resident Bob Whitesides said he used to build and install septic systems.

“To require someone to come in and excavate a tank — and I know you say it doesn't say that — (but) that's what it implies,” Whitesides said. “Some of these systems have been in for decades.”

Resident Bob Artman said the new ordinance seems “more streamlined.”

“The goal of this whole effort was to get government out of your way,” Morrison said.

The Pennsylvania Code dictates that any municipality allowing septic tanks must have a management program for them. The Department of Environmental Protection reviewed the updated ordinance and found no problems, Morrison said.

Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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