Septic Smarts

Regular septic pumping can decrease nutrients going into the lake and can result in less weeds and less algae.  Septic pumping is the law and it’s the right thing to do.

On January 1, 2017, our new septic pump-out law went into effect. This measure, introduced by Supervisor Oliverio and approved by the town board and the community, is part of a long term plan to protect the beauty and health of our lake.

The law requires inspection and pump-out of each septic tank in the district at least every 5 years. If you are already pumping and caring for your septic system, you will probably not have to do anything differently. If you haven’t pumped in 5 years, you will need to do it in 2017. Here’s how it will work:

By law, the licensed septic technician who inspected and pumped your tank will have sent a report to the Putnam County Board of Health. Starting Jan 1, 2017, PV Town Hall has been going over the past 5 years of reports in order to notify homeowners for whom no septic pump-out was reported.  If you know that you haven’t had a pump-out since before 2012, do yourself a favor and get your 2017 pump-out done before you receive notification.  Avoid the paperwork and the possibility of a fine.


I did my pump-out a few years ago, but I got a letter of notification in error. What do I do?

You will need to contact the licensed technician or company who did the work and obtain the report -– they are legally required to keep those records.

If you can’t get the report, but you have a receipt or other documentation of pumping, bring it to Town Hall. Depending on what you have, it may be sufficient. If there is no record, you will have to pump again before Dec 31, 2017.

I’ve never had my tank pumped. I don’t even know where it is. What do I do?

You will need to set up an appointment with a septic pumping company to find and pump your tank. Ask your friends and neighbors for the names of companies that they have used. Click below to see companies that offer us  group discounts.

Finding the tank and digging down to the cover may add additional costs to your first pumping. There are 2 expenses here—finding the tank and digging. The technician will use a metal probe or a flushable transmitter to find your tank. Once you have found your tank, make good notes about where it is for next time. If the look of an above-ground cover does not bother you, you can ask about installing a septic riser to bring the septic lid up to ground level. This will save digging costs in the future.

I’m only one person and I’m almost never at the house. Do I have to pump at the same frequency as a family living there full time?

You still have to pump every 5 years. Remember that the requirement is for pumping and inspection. Even if you haven’t flushed the toilet a single time in the last 5 years, the materials of the tank and the pipes to it could have degraded. Regular inspection for corrosion and leaks helps protect the cleanliness of the lake.

In addition, septic systems are active biological systems. When we use a toilet, we add micro-organisms that help to break down the material that is in the tank.  Systems that are used infrequently may have “feast or famine” cycles leading to accumulations of thick unprocessed materials.

How do I know whether I have to pump more frequently than every 5 years?

If you have a large family or a small septic tank, you should pump more frequently.

Kitchen sink garbage grinders or disposals are not recommended for use with septic systems. If you have one, you should pump every year.

I would like to take the best care I can of our lake. What should I do?

Pump your septic tank every 2-3 years!

Septic systems were designed to last 20 to 30 years. None of them will last forever. Older systems frequently used older technology, such as seepage pits, that would not be up to code if they were installed today, but are grandfathered in. If your system is older, compensate for it; pump every 2–3 years.

Don’t be afraid to err on the side of overdoing it. Our lots are far from ideal for septic systems. The soil is thin, we have a lot of rocks, and many lots are quite steep. Even a septic system that is perfectly functioning from a public health point of view is probably contributing nutrients that promote growth of lake weeds and algae. Because of the lake, we have a different level of responsibility than people do in a community without a lake. Each of us can make a difference. Together, we can make a big difference.

RBLPOA has negotiated discounts for Roaring Brook Lake District residents with three septic companies: Cook, EarthCare, and Mahopac Septic.

These discounts may be helpful to you, but do not indicate the endorsement of RBLPOA. As always, be a smart consumer. Compare, talk to your neighbors, read the small print.