Half of Septic Systems Didn’t Pass First Round of LGPC Inspections

June 30, 2023

Basin-wide septic system inspections are already helping to protect Lake George. Of the 26 inspections scheduled in April and May by the Lake George Park Commission (LGPC), nine septic systems passed, eight failed, three were substandard, and six could not be completed.

The new LGPC regulation calls for failed systems to upgrade within six months. Substandard designations require minor repairs, but not to a major component that affects waste treatment. Incomplete inspections, where system components were not accessible and/or the required preparation was not completed, must be rescheduled.

“It’s great to see these regulations implemented,” says Chris Navitsky, Lake George Waterkeeper. “It’s very important for long-term water quality of Lake George as well as property values. By decreasing the amount of nutrients leaking into the Lake from failing and aging systems, algae growth in the water is reduced, as is the risk for feeding harmful algal blooms.”

The early results around Lake George appear to be consistent with other lake septic management programs. For instance, of the 180 septic system inspections conducted on properties near Otsego Lake, Cooperstown, NY, in 2005–2006, a total of 105 (or 58%) failed.

“There are more failures the first time around,” says Navitsky. “You flush out the bad systems, and then things go a lot smoother.”

Shortly after LGPC’s new wastewater regulations went into effect in March, the Lake George Park Commission began the five-year cycle of inspecting all 2,700+ septic systems within 500 feet of Lake George or 100 feet within a regulated stream. The inspection process includes pumping out the septic tanks. A proportional number of systems from the Towns of Bolton, Dresden, Fort Ann, Hague, Lake George, Putnam, Queensbury, and Ticonderoga will be selected each year.

For property owners who are unfamiliar with their septic system, you can contact the Park Commission or the LGA ([email protected]) for guidance on locating your system and/or preparing it for inspection.

Beyond maintenance pumping and inspection, septic systems require informed care and protection for cost-effective operation. “As a resident with a septic system, you are a utility owner and operator,” says Navitsky. “At $20,000 to $30,000 per system, you want to make sure it’s functioning for the long term.”

The LGA website safesepticsystems.org is a complete guide to ownership, including what to keep out of your system, how to know if your system is failing, and options for improvements or replacement.