Advanced Septic Systems Are Not a Solution for Shenorock, Lincolndale

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There has been much talk about the use of advanced septic systems instead of sewers and a recent letter to the editor promoting these systems. Proponents of this approach say they are cheaper and just as effective as sewers.

The truth is, these systems are only permissible in Westchester County under very limited circumstances. Even if they were permitted, they are expensive to install and maintain and are not as effective as sewers.

These systems are only allowed in Westchester County for the complete replacement of a failed septic system. They are only permissible on certain sites that will not support conventional septic systems. The question that immediately comes to mind is why the county would prohibit systems that were so cheap and so wonderful. Turns out there are some very good reasons.

Advanced septic systems generally cost twice as much as traditional septic systems to install. They require annual maintenance and sanitizing chemicals. Electricity costs can be several hundred dollars annually. In fact, these systems cost between $350 and $800 annually to maintain. The pumps last about five years and cost several hundred dollars to replace. The tank needs to be pumped out every two to three years. Only special soaps and detergents can be used in these systems in order for them to function properly. The systems themselves last about 25 to 30 years with proper maintenance before requiring replacement.

It is for these reasons that these systems are not generally permitted. Many people do not maintain them properly and the systems fail leading us back to the problem we started with.  

Finally, the $10 million in grant funds cannot be used for these systems. The funding is for sewers. No matter how many times people say it, these systems are not a realistic alternative to sewers. It is time to look critically at our only options:  vote yes for sewers or continue to contaminate our water with septics that are too dense for the area. For me, the choice is clear, our water should be, too.  

Robyn Anderson

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