New DEM septic system rules take effect on Monday, July 9
By Will Collette
Thanks for months of work and hard-nosed negotiation led by Rep. Donna Walsh, starting Monday, July 9, coastal homeowners will be able to proceed with home improvement projects that have been held up by DEM regulations that also required them to install new, $30,000 denitrification systems.
DEM had been using the issuance of a building permit as the “trigger” to compel homeowners in environmentally sensitive areas about our South County ponds to replace fully operational septic systems with new high-tech systems, even when the permit was for a simple home improvement project that has no effect on the home’s “footprint” or water usage.
No more, starting Monday.
One hoped-for by-product of this regulatory deal is jobs creation. Lots of small home improvement projects have been stalled by DEM’s current regulations, stifling an already badly damaged construction industry. Coming at the peak of the construction season, these new rules might give the local economy a little bit of a boost.
The new DEM regulations also will make it easier to expand the menu of choices for homeowners when it does become necessary to install new state-of-the-art systems. Companies that meet industry standards or have been approved by other states with similar regulations and environmental conditions as Rhode Island will find it easier to get Rhode Island approval.
Expanding the choices will hopefully bring some less expensive, but equally effective, options into the state and may also give homeowners another edge if more options leads to increased competition.
The new rules will also allow companies to conduct pilot projects to demonstrate whether their systems can work under Rhode Island conditions and meet Rhode Island standards.
The new rules package is a limited-time-only deal. Two years. So start that home improvement project now! The deal is premised on achieving a permanent, practical solution to protecting the ponds, something that will probably take either legislation or another regulatory effort by RIDEM.
For the details on these new regulations, go to Rep. Donna Walsh’s newly re-designed webpage. Click here.
To read the new regulations for yourself, click here.