Teton County Septic System Regulations

OUR DRINKING WATER IS AT RISK!

SEPTIC SYSTEMS CAN CAUSE NUTRIENT AND BACTERIAL CONTAMINATION OF OUR GROUNDWATER — OUR ONLY SOURCE OF DRINKING WATER.

As a headwaters community of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, our outstanding water resources deserve the best protection — equal to the value they provide our community.

Unfortunately, many of the septic systems in Teton County are improperly managed and do not provide the level of treatment necessary to adequately protect public health, and surface and groundwater quality.


Teton County released draft Small Wastewater Facility (septic system) Regulations for Public Comment.

The regulations need to be STRONGER in order to protect our sole source aquifer.

• The Public Comment period is open until Monday, December 20, 2021.
• A Virtual Public Meeting will be held Tuesday, November 30, 2021 at 6:00 PM via this Microsoft Teams meeting link: bit.ly/3xisYk9
or call in (audio only): 307-314-3198, Phone Conference ID — 733 171 863#
• A Public Hearing will be held during the regular meeting of the Teton County Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday, December 21, 2021 at 9:00 AM where the draft regulations will be presented for consideration of approval.  Join the Virtual meeting via Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88635267367
or call in: 1.669.900.6833, Meeting ID — 886 3526 7367

POWJH is taking a leadership role to ensure the proposed rules protect drinking water and the environment. View our detailed comments here.


THE TIME TO SPEAK UP IS NOW!

LET THE COUNTY KNOW YOU WANT CLEAN WATER AND SUPPORT POWJH PROPOSED IMPROVEMENTS TO THE REGULATIONS.

We’ve identified three primary concerns that we would like to see addressed:

1. The regulations should apply to all existing septic systems.
The proposed rules will not apply to systems that are failing, have been approved but not yet built, or found to violate prior regulations. These systems will be allowed to continue to pollute and degrade our water quality.

2. The proposed rules do not address the need for a septic system inspection program.
Poorly maintained and failing systems are allowed to continue polluting our groundwater forever. Even with regular inspections and maintenance, the average lifespan of a septic system is 20 to 30 years. In some cases, failing septic systems have made our residents’ drinking water undrinkable, yet the proposed amendments do not address that problem despite the serious health threat. These regulations need to include a framework of shared responsibility that requires homeowners to inspect and maintain their systems and enables Teton County to administer a program for compliance.

3. The proposed rules do not sufficiently protect public drinking water.
Teton County has failed to complete Source Water Protection Plans (SWPPs) for most of our 113 Public Water Systems. The proposed regulations contain an essential provision that requires additional levels of protection and higher levels of performance for septic systems placed in areas that may impact public water supplies. However, those areas can only be determined by creating SWPPs.


Need help drafting your request? Just add the date, your signature, name, and address to our suggested letter-writing template.

Provide written public comment to:

Email:
• Ted VanHolland  |  [email protected]
• Board of County Commissioners  |  [email protected]

Mailing address:
Teton County Sanitarian & Board of County Commissioners
P.O. Box 3594
Jackson, WY 83001


Additional information from Teton County staff and the draft regulations are available here –
http://tetoncountywy.gov/1935/Public-Comment

The current Teton County Small Wastewater Facility (septic system) Regulations were approved in 2010. The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WYDEQ) released an updated and restructured set of state-wide Small Wastewater Facility (SWF) rules (Chapter 25 of the Water Quality Rules and Regulations) in June 2016.

The Delegation Agreement between Teton County and WYDEQ requires that delegated entities (Teton County, in this case) maintain permit regulations, and design and construction standards that are at least as stringent as the equivalent State standards. The Delegation Agreement currently in effect was executed in 2018 and indicated that the County intended to revise the 2010 SWF regulations to comply with the 2016 WYDEQ Chapter 25.

How Septic Systems can leak into our Drinking Water Source and pollute Surface Waters.

Teton County has over 2000 septic systems that release wastewater effluent into the ground. Ideally, the soil would absorb nitrogen and phosphorus and prevent the nutrients from entering the groundwater. But most of the valley floor, with its coarse soils and shallow groundwater, is a poor filtration system. Nutrients flow through into the groundwater, which is our only source of drinking water. Interaction between the groundwater and surface waters allows nutrients to pollute our streams and rivers.

 

INTERACTIVE GRAPHICClick on the + hotspots below to learn more:

Management Guidelines for Small Wastewater Facilities (Septic Systems)

A complete program for the proper management of septic systems involves implementing a comprehensive series of LIFE-CYCLE activities. Each of the following components is a critical part of a successful program to adequately protect public health and the environment.

Whether you are a regulatory authority (e.g., Teton County), homeowner, developer, site evaluator, or service provider - everyone has an important role to play in a successful management program!

Review the components to learn more:

Site Evaluation

Site Evaluation

• The regulatory authority should provide strict criteria for treatment site characteristics that may be suitable for permitted designs that will prevent unacceptable impacts on surface and groundwater resources, establish the defining characteristics of each site placement, and oversee and approve site evaluation procedures to ensure that system designs are appropriate for the sites and their stipulated performance criteria.

• The site evaluator should obtain certification/license to practice, evaluate site and soil characteristics, and determine suitability of the site with respect to regulation requirements based on the site’s hydraulic and treatment capacity.

• The homeowner should hire a certified/licensed site evaluator to perform site evaluation.

Design

Design

• The regulatory authority should provide system designs that meet the appropriate criteria for treatment sites and require a routine operation plan that will sustain system performance to avoid the release of unpermitted discharges.

• The designer should obtain certification/license to practice and design treatment systems that are compatible with the site and soil characteristics described by the site evaluator, and comply with applicable federal, state, and local requirements in the design of wastewater treatment and dispersal systems.

• The homeowner should hire a certified/licensed designer to prepare the system design.

Construction

Construction

• The regulatory authority should administer a permitting program for system construction including; review of the proposed system design/drawings/plans, siting, and construction of the system, and requirements that the designer/installer is certified to complete the system construction in compliance with approved plans and specifications.

• The designer/installer should be certified/licensed to construct systems in accordance with approved plans and specifications, prepare and submit design/drawings/plans of the completed system to the regulatory authority, provide the homeowner with a manual describing manufacturer’s owner & operator (O&A) maintenance requirements/recommendations, and comply with applicable federal, state, and local requirements in the design and construction of wastewater treatment and dispersal systems.

• The homeowner should hire certified/licensed professionals to prepare and install the system, submit final record drawings and a copy of the systems O&A manual to the regulatory authority to assist in recording required maintenance/inspections.

Operation and Maintenance

Operation and Maintenance

• The regulatory authority should provide the homeowner with educational materials regarding system use and care, and administer a program to track installation and review monitoring reports to ensure that systems are operating correctly.

• The homeowner should operate and maintain the system according to proper care and use guidelines, hire a certified/licensed service provider/pumper/hauler to regularly perform system inspections, monitoring, and maintenance service, keep maintenance records to note any system deficiencies, and submit timely compliance monitoring reports.

• The service provider/pumper/hauler should obtain certification/license to practice and comply with requirements for the proper residual waste management, assist the homeowner in keeping maintenance records, and report any deficiencies to the regulatory authority.

Inspections and Monitoring

Inspections and Monitoring

• The regulatory authority should perform inspection programs at point-of-sale, change-in-use of properties, “targeted areas” (e.g. contamination hot spots, aging systems, sensitive watersheds), and/or systems reported being in violation. They should also conduct compliance inspections of residuals hauling, treatment, and disposal, administer a program to monitor timely submissions of acceptable compliance maintenance reports, and perform system inspections randomly and/or at the time of operating permit renewal.

• Inspectors should obtain certification/license to practice, and perform system compliance inspections for the homeowner according to the regulatory authority rules.

• The homeowner should hire a certified/licensed inspector to monitor, inspect, maintain, and pump their system in order to stay in compliance, and submit system monitoring reports to the regulatory authority to assist in tracking any system deficiencies and optimize a system operation program.

Financial Assistance and Funding

Financial Assistance and Funding

• The regulatory authority should provide a listing of financial assistance programs available to homeowners and the qualifying criteria for each program, consider implementing a state or local financing program to assist the homeowner in upgrading systems, and provide the legal and financial support to sustain the regulatory program.

Planning

Planning

• The regulatory authority should evaluate potential risks of wastewater discharges to limit environmental impacts during the rule-making process, coordinate program rules and regulations with state and local planning/zoning and other water-related programs, continuously evaluate existing wastewater treatment needs, and forecast future needs.

• Developers should hire planners and certified site evaluators and designers to ensure that all lots of proposed subdivision plats meet requirements for proper treatment and submit to the regulatory authority for review and comment prior to final plat to ensure compatibility with the rules.

Recordkeeping, Inventory, and Reporting

Recordkeeping, Inventory, and Reporting

• The regulatory authority should administer a database inventory (locations, site evaluations, record drawings, permits, and inspection reports) of all systems within their jurisdiction, maintain a residuals treatment and disposal tracking system, maintain a current certified/licensed service provider listing which is available to homeowners, administer a tracking system for operating permits, and administer a tracking database for compliance reports.

• The inspector should perform system monitoring, provide a certified report of all observed system deficiencies to the homeowner, and provide a certified report of all maintenance and observed system deficiencies to the regulatory authority.

• The pumper/hauler should prepare and submit records of residuals handling to the regulatory authority.

• The homeowner should maintain system monitoring and service records.

Public Education and Participation

Public Education and Participation

• The regulatory authority should educate the owner/user on the purpose, use, and care of the treatment system, and provide public review and comment periods of any proposed program and/or rule changes.

• The service provider should be informed of and follow existing rules.

• The homeowner should be informed of the purpose, use, prohibited uses, and care of the treatment system.

Training and Certification

Training and Certification

• The regulatory authority should develop and administer training, testing, and certification/licensing program for site evaluators, designers, contractors, pumpers/haulers, inspectors, and operators. They should also maintain a current certified/licensed service provider listing.

• The service provider should obtain appropriate certification/license(s) and continuing education as required, as well as comply with all applicable federal, state, and local requirements in the evaluation of sites for wastewater treatment and dispersal.

• The homeowner should only contract with professional service providers who site, design, construct, operate, and/or maintain systems that obtain the appropriate certification/license(s) to practice.

Performance

Performance

• The regulatory authority should establish system failure criteria to protect public health (e.g., wastewater backups in building, wastewater ponding on ground surface, insufficient separation from groundwater or wells.), minimum maintenance requirements for approved systems, and performance criteria necessary to protect public health and water resources.

• The homeowner should operate, maintain, and repair systems to comply with established maintenance and performance criteria.

Corrective Actions

Corrective Actions

• If there are noncompliance items, the regulatory authority should negotiate compliance schedules with the homeowner for correcting documented non-compliance issues, and administer the enforcement program including fines and/or penalties for failure to comply.

• The homeowner should comply with terms and conditions of the negotiated compliance schedule, submit required documents for corrective actions to the regulatory authority, and hire certified/licensed service providers to perform required corrective actions.

• The certified/licensed designer should provide the homeowner with documents (drawings, specifications, modifications, etc.) required by the regulatory authority for corrective action.

• The certified/licensed contractor/installer should be required to perform repairs, modifications, and upgrades as necessary so the homeowner can comply with the conditions of the negotiated compliance schedule.

Residuals Management

Residuals Management

• The regulatory authority should administer a tracking system for residuals hauling, treatment, and disposal and review to evaluate compliance with current regulations, assess available residuals handling/treatment capacities, and develop contingency plans when capacities available are insufficient.

• The service provider/pumper/hauler should obtain certification/license(s) to practice and comply with requirements for proper management in the pumping, hauling, treatment, and disposal of wastewater treatment system residuals.

• The homeowner should hire a certified/licensed service provider/pumper/hauler to remove, treat, and dispose of residuals.