St. Lawrence River advocates identifying issues in waterfront septic systems

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CLAYTON, N.Y. (WWTI) — Although considered to be one of the less “glamorous” subjects talked about in the 1000 Islands region, septic tanks are a major talking point right now for local advocates.

Save The River and local experts from Onsite Engineering in Syracuse, New York partnered together to release an updated Septic Handbook for residents in local waterfront communities.

This project was first started in the 1980s as the Kingfisher Septic Tank Monitoring Program which provided participants with dye kits to identify leaks in sewer systems.

“Overall goal was to get people to get their septic systems up and running so that the raw sewage didn’t run back into the river or into the water table,” shared Save the River Executive Director John Peach.

Now, nearly 40 years later, the program is continuing to provide local residents with dye kits to identify issues. Which according from expert engineers, is likely in the region especially in some of the older, historic cottages.

To combat this issue, the handbook for the program, has been updated for the first time in 15 years an features new available technologies.

“Over the last 20 to 30 years, there’s been a movement to create these intake treatment units where an environment inside a tank, which is a controllable place, would create an environment where the biological reduction of the waste would occur,” explained Onsite Engineering’s Eric Murdock.

These systems are outlined and explained in the new handbook.

According to the experts, a goal of the new guide is to show residents how versatile and simple new technology is, even on the most unique properties, as well as eliminate fears of cost and safety.

Murdock has worked with numerous towns and municipalities that have implemented similar sewer technologies.

“You’ve got an island that’s very small footprint that doesn’t have good soil. So we take the pipe coming out of the house, we go through a tank, we put in a little pump station, we pump it up to an elevated area. That’s got a very small footprint,” he explained.

To show how these technologies work in many locations, Save the River’s handbook features “case studies” along the St. Lawrence River.

“A property owner might think, ‘well, this might not work for me because I have this very specific property,” or ‘it’s very rocky, I don’t have the right kind of soil,'” added Save the River Program Coordinator Lauren Eggleston. “And I think the case studies really help to make the point of: There are all these different circumstances and they all have had successful installations. So, your property can also have, have the updated system put in place.”

The newly updated Save The River Septic Handbook can be found on the organizations website, and copies can be found at its office.

Dye kits for this program can be picked up at Reinman’s Department Store in Clayton, New York.

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