Pike County Dispatch, August 16, 2012
By Lisa Mickles
DINGMANS FERRY — In an effort to protect the township’s drinking water and inform residents on the importance of maintaining their on-lot sewage systems, the Delaware Township Supervisors approved Pike County’s first municipal-wide On-Lot Sewage Disposal Maintenance Plan.
At a public hearing held last Wednesday, Sewage Enforcement Officer Chris Schlegel outlined the new ordinance that establishes regulations concerning the maintenance of all on-lot sewage disposal systems, requires septic pump haulers to register with the township, and allows intervention by the township when it comes to public health and safety issues relating to sewage effluent entering groundwater.
“Everyone will now have to be their own septic treatment operator,” said Schlegel.
The township had no choice in the matter since the Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP), as part of its new regulations, required the plan to be in place in order for the township to get approval of its Act 537 sewage facility plan, which had not been officially updated through DEP since 1976.
“We are looking to have every septic tank inspected once every three years through a sludge judge test,” said Schlegel.
Most septic systems built within the past 20 years consist of a buried tank to capture solids and grease, and a drain field for disposal of the remaining liquid. On-lot systems, in order to function properly, are required to be pumped out regularly to avoid malfunctions and prevent untreated solids from entering the groundwater supply.
A sludge judge test is a long tube that is entered into the septic tank, which shows how much sludge is at the bottom of the tank. If the tube is more than a third full, the tank should be pumped. As a safeguard, homeowners have the option to appeal the hauler’s decision, in which case, the township will be contacted and can double-check the readings. Haulers found to be falsifying readings will no longer be certified.
The township will be divided into three separate districts. District One would consist mostly of homes north of Silver Lake Road, which are the private communities of Birchwood Lake Estates, Traces of Lattimore and Pocono Mountain Water Forest. For District Two, communities south of Silver Lake Road such as Old Marcel Lakes Estates, Pocono Mountain Lake Forest, and sections residing in Delaware Township of the Pocono Mountain Lake Estates will be included. The main section of Wild Acres, the largest private community in the township, would be in District Three.
Schlegel said there are approximately 1,200 homes in each of the districts, noting that some sections of private communities might overlap into other districts.
Once the plan is implemented, notifications will be sent out to each of the homeowners, starting with District One, with a timeline for completion (April through October), a list of acceptable haulers, and a form to be filled out and submitted to the township.