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Township residents face deadline on tanks

December 27, 2001

Township residents face deadline on tanks



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro


WAYNESBORO, Pa. - It's been more than three years since the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued regulations that force homeowners to pump out septic tanks every three years.

Washington Township has nearly 1,000 homes, said Zoning Enforcement Officer Jerry Zeigler.

The township was divided into three zones - east, west and middle. The supervisors began the pumping schedule in 1998 with the west zone. Those in the middle zone were notified in 1999 and those in the east in 2000.

The cycle is being repeated this year in the west zone. So far all but 47 of the 350 homeowners there have had their tanks pumped a second time, Zeigler said.

The procrastinators have until Dec. 31 to comply or letters threatening legal action will be sent, he said. "They'll have three weeks after that or we'll take legal action," Zeigler said.

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He admits the threat is veiled. "We've never taken legal action against anybody yet," he said. "They usually always come around."

Fines can run up to $300 a day, said Township Administrator Michael A. Christopher. "I don't know why folks in that zone are dragging their feet. More than 87 percent of the tanks there have been done but that still leaves a lot to be pumped out by the end of the year. We're getting concerned. They're running out of time."

The DEP issued the regulation to Pennsylvania municipalities in an effort to protect ground water and streams, Zeigler said.

"It's not our rule. We're just the conduit," Christopher said.

Zeigler said it costs about $100 to pump a typical 1,000-gallon septic tank. Homeowners hire private contractors for the work.

Sewage from septic tanks, or septage as it's called, doesn't break down as fast as it does in the pipes in a sewer system, Zeigler said. As a result, most public sewer systems can't accept it, he said.

Washington Township upgraded its treatment plant to accept septage, he said.

The township charges private haulers $40 per 1,000 gallons to dump septage at the treatment plant, he said.

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