Proposed law would put new septic responsibility on lakeside, riverside homeowners

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Signs prohibiting swimming outside the fence of Million Dollar Beach in Lake George, N.Y. (Photo: Jay Petrequin)

WARREN COUNTY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – If you live near Lake George of the Hudson River and want to sell your home, there may be some new steps in store, courtesy of a proposed law the county is eyeing. A new survey is out seeking input.

The proposed “Septic Inspection Upon Transfer” law would require any home within 250 feet of a designated lake or river to have its septic system inspected upon transfer of the property to a new owner. It would only affect fully-developed property.

Water bodies on Warren County’s list include:

  • Lake George
  • Schroon Lake
  • Schroon River
  • Brant Lake
  • Loon Lake
  • Lake Luzerne
  • Friends Lake
  • Hudson River

The survey, available on Warren County’s website, asks for residents to weigh in on whether they think outdated or aging septic systems can pose a threat to water quality, as well as what they feel their responsibility is to the stewardship of water bodies around them. Those questions reflect on the intent behind the law, which aims to protect water bodies from contamination and counteract cases where inadequate septic system design or upkeep can lead to pollution.

“Protection of our waterways is a vitally important issue for all residents of and visitors to Warren County, and this proposed septic inspection law will take great strides toward improving oversight of potentially problematic septic systems,” said Warren County Chairwoman Rachel Seeber. “But we also want to make sure that all stakeholders who would be affected have a chance to weigh in on this proposal, and that all members of the public that wish to be heard about this proposed law are provided an opportunity as well.”

Two public hearings are set on the proposed law; one at 7 p.m. on Nov. 17 at Lake George Town Hall, and the other at 10 a.m. on Nov. 19 at Warren County Municipal Center.

For real examples of the impact that aging septic systems can have, look no further than Lake George. The lake saw its first harmful algal bloom last year, and has seen another, smaller one this fall. Blooms are caused by an influx of nutrients in water bodies, and lake stewardship groups have been vocal about the influence that aging and leaking septic systems can have on that process.

Running parallel to that issue, Million Dollar Beach at the lake’s base in the village of Lake George has seen numerous closures over the years that have been tied back to unsafe levels of e. coli. The most recent closure was over this past summer. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation said at that time that heavy rainfall was blamed for the high levels.

Warren County is no stranger to urging septic upgrades. In June, they pushed a program that offers state grants to pay for up to $10,000 of the cost to upgrade or replace aging septic systems.

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