Septic Initiative Program

Septic Initiative Program Final Report

Click on link to view the report:  Septic Initiative Program Report

The Lake George Consolidated Board of Health is responsible within the town to implement the Public Health Law and Sanitary Code of the State of New York. On May 29, 2013, the Consolidated Board of Health introduced the “Septic Initiative Program.” This program mandates that all existing onsite wastewater treatment systems (OWTS) within the town are cataloged and inspected, with the goal to ensure that OWTS (also known as septic systems) are functioning optimally. Completion of the “Pre-Inspection Worksheet for Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems” is a necessary first step and will assist the town in determining OWTS that are not functioning optimally and therefore may be polluting our drinking water and Lake George.

Each property will be addressed individually. The worksheet will assist us in collecting information regarding the type of septic system that each property uses to treat human waste (wastewater), the system’s location on each property, its age, its overall functionality, and recent necessary routine maintenance documented by individual property owners. Future plans will include a standard septic hauler worksheet to be completed by all companies pumping Lake George residents’ septic tanks.

Onsite wastewater treatment systems are effective when properly designed, installed, and maintained. However, an inadequate OWTS, lack of routine maintenance, increased seasonal usage, undersized and overused systems, or the installation of septic systems on sites with unacceptable soil conditions can all lead to wastewater treatment failure. In addition, these OWTS in close proximity to Lake George or a stream flowing to the lake can negatively impact water quality and our drinking water. “Your Septic System” is a good resource for information about your home’s onsite wastewater treatment system and its required maintenance (published by Cornell Cooperative Extension).

At this time, the Town of Lake George is in the process of information gathering. If you live within 500 feet of Lake George or within 100 feet of a stream, tributary, or wetland, you have received a letter and a Pre Inspection Worksheet from the Town of Lake George.  The worksheet is required to be completed and returned with attachments and a copy of a recent septic tank pump out receipt to the Planning and Zoning Office.  When you have scheduled an appointment for your septic system inspection and/or pump out, please call the office so that staff can join you on site (to assess your OWTS and share information).

Septic Initiative Program, 1st Public Meeting

Town of Lake George Septic Initiative Program, a Power Point presentation (open to view photos of algal blooms and enhanced treatment units (new septic technologies).

Septic Initiative Program, 2nd Public Meeting

Second Public Meeting held on December 10, 2018

Septic Initiative PPT Presentation (general)

Outline summary of the Septic Initiative Program
Outline of Septic Initiative Program

Copy of the Septic Initiative letter sent to residents
Septic Initiative Program Letter to Residents

Pre-Inspection Worksheet to be completed and returned by residents with details regarding their onsite wastewater treatment system
Pre-Inspection Worksheet for SIP

Application for the construction, replacement, or alteration of an onsite wastewater treatment system
Application for Resident OWTS Construction_Replacement_Alteration

Septic Hauler Worksheet DRAFT to be used by the septic haulers
 Septic Hauler Worksheet_Dec 2014.  4 1 15

Cornell Cooperative  Extension publication ‘Your Septic System’
 Cornell Cooperative Extension ‘Your Septic System’

EPA Encourages Homeowners and Communities to Maintain Septic Systems

WASHINGTON —Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — in conjunction with federal, state and local government and private sector partners — is kicking off its fourth annual SepticSmart Week to encourage American homeowners and communities to properly maintain their septic systems.

More than 26 million homes in the United States — one in five households — depend on septic systems to treat wastewater. If not maintained, failing septic systems can contaminate groundwater and harm the environment by releasing bacteria, viruses and household hazardous waste to local waterways. Proper septic system maintenance protects public health and the environment and saves the homeowner money through avoided costly repairs.

“By taking small steps to maintain septic systems, homeowners not only protect our nation’s public health and keep our water clean, but also save money and protect their property values,” said Joel Beauvais, Deputy Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Water.

Simple tips for homeowners:

  • Protect It and Inspect It: Homeowners should generally have their system inspected every three years by a qualified professional or according to their state or local health department’s recommendations. Tanks should be pumped when necessary, typically every three to five years.
  • Think at the Sink: Avoid pouring fats, grease, and solids down the drain. These substances can clog a system’s pipes and drainfield.
  • Don’t Overload the Commode: Only put things in the drain or toilet that belong there. For example, coffee grounds, dental floss, disposable diapers and wipes, feminine hygiene products, cigarette butts, and cat litter can all clog and potentially damage septic systems.
  • Don’t Strain Your Drain: Be water efficient and spread out water use. Fix plumbing leaks and install faucet aerators and water-efficient products. Spread out laundry and dishwasher loads throughout the day: too much water at once can overload a system that hasn’t been pumped recently.
  • Shield Your Field: Remind guests not to park or drive on a system’s drainfield, where the vehicle’s weight could damage buried pipes or disrupt underground flow.

EPA’s SepticSmart program educates homeowners about proper septic system care and maintenance all year long. In addition, it serves as an online resource for industry practitioners, local governments and community organizations, providing access to tools to educate clients and residents.

For information on SepticSmart Week or tips on how to properly maintain your septic system, visit

Town Code Chapter 115, Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems
Town Code, Chapter 115, Septic Regulations, 06 02 16

NYS Fact sheet related to Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems
State of New York FactSheet-PE for OWTS design

Additional related links from Consolidated Board of Health page.

NYSDOH Appendix 75-A Wastewater Treatment Standards – Individual Household Systems:

NYSDOH Residential Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems DESIGN HANDBOOK 2012:

NYSDEC Design Standards for Wastewater Treatment Works in the Lake George Basin:


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Updates by James P. Mathis

Background photo by Luke Dow