D.A.A.R. Makes Call to Action Announcement to Halt Proposed Restrictions in Loudoun County Alternative Septic Systems

Monday, May 19, 2008

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CALL TO ACTION: Urge The Board Of Supervisors To Oppose The Restriction On Alternative Septic Systems At The Second Public Input Session Or Email The Board Of Supervisors

The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors will hold a public input session on the proposed ordinance to regulate all septic systems and restrict alternative septic systems on Tuesday, May 20th at 6:30 p.m. at the Loudoun County Government Center, 1 Harrison Street, SE, first floor, Leesburg, VA. Individuals are allowed up to five minutes to speak and can sign up beforehand by calling 703-777-0200. Read More about the issue.

You are invited to use the following format and talking points to express your views:

When Speaking Start With:

  1. My name is … And I live at … And I am a member of the Dulles Area Association of REALTORS®.
  2. Mr. Chairman, members of the Board, as members of the Dulles Area Association of REALTORS®, we seek to improve the environment in which we live and work. I am here today to urge you to oppose the proposed ordinance to restrict alternative septic systems as it (select from talking points below:)…
  3. Conclude by thanking the Board of Supervisors for the opportunity to speak.

Talking Points
Eliminates an Environmentally-Friendly Technology Used in Other Areas Since the goals of the ordinance is to protect public health and safety, proponents must believe that non-conventional on-site sewage systems are more detrimental to water quality and more prone to spreading disease that conventional on-site systems. On the contrary, states such as Massachusetts and Maine have long recognized the capabilities of non-conventional systems. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection states that non-conventional on-site systems are “…generally better than conventional septic systems at removing solids and other pollutants from wastewater before it goes to the soil absorption system (SAS)” and that “a non-conventional system can also provide advanced treatment to reduce the wastewater’s nitrogen content.” In Maine, state officials also reviewed the track records of 64,000 non-conventional systems and found that the new systems “posted the same success rate even though their bed areas covered only half the area required for conventional systems.”

Unnecessarily Restricts the Installation of New Non-Conventional Systems. Accomplishing the goals of the proposed ordinance — protecting the water quality and supply, preventing the contraction and spread of disease, and preventing the failure of non-conventional systems — would be better met if the ordinance continued to regulate the installation and maintenance of non-conventional systems so as to ensure acceptable performance, but did not go so far as to impose a near prohibition on the installation of new ones. The ordinance would not allow for the use of non-conventional systems even where they would perform as well as, if not better than, conventional systems.

Imposes a Restriction on Systems with a Low Failure Rate The ordinance’s sponsor, Supervisor Jim Burton, has noted a “startling high failure rate [of non-conventional systems] during their first few years of operation.” However, Leesburg Today reported that the statistics presented during the Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee meeting in April 2007 indicated that only 18 systems out of 1,565 non-conventional septic systems in the county had failed in the past five months, a 1.1 percent failure rate. Conventional systems had only a marginally better failure rate of .6%, based on the failures of 79 systems out of 12,596 installed during the same five month period. Perhaps identifying the reasons behind the small amount of failures can determine whether it’s a limitation of the technology or maintenance. Further, any such discussion should specify the particular technology in question, rather than lumping together failure rates for all “non-conventional” technologies.

Violates the Sprit of Comprehensive Plan In 2006, Loudoun County established stringent limitations through its zoning ordinance. The proposed limitations in the proposed ordinance will exacerbate the effect that zoning already has on the ability of the county to accommodate future growth. This will be the case to the extent that the ordinance will prevent the development of some parcels to the full extent of their permitted zoning densities.

Help DAAR Take Action Now!

If you have any questions, contact Christine Windle, Director, Government Affairs & Communications, 703/727-2144, cwindle@dullesarea.com


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