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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Tanzi and Walsh want to eliminate ALL cesspools

“It’s time to finish the job”
News release from Reps. Teresa Tanzi and Donna Walsh

Working in close collaboration with the RI Department of Environmental Management, Rep. Teresa Tanzi has sponsored, and Rep. Donna Walsh has co-sponsored, new legislation, H-5732, to completely eliminate the use of old-fashioned cesspools in Rhode Island.

By the end of 2013, all households located near coastal waters and public drinking water supplies must replace cesspools either with state approached on-site wastewater treatment systems or hook-ups to sewer systems. But that still leaves thousands of cesspools still in use across the state and an on-going threat to the environment and public health.

“It’s time to finish the job,” said Reps. Walsh and Tanzi in a joint statement. 

“The 2007 cesspool act has brought us to the point where we have sharply reduced pollution going into our drinking water and sensitive coastal areas, but more must be done. We now know beyond a doubt that old-fashioned cesspools will pollute the environment and that pollution will spread beyond the property line of the owner to affect the community.”

Said DEM Director Janet Coit, “Aside from illicit or unknown piping of wastes directly into streams, cesspool discharges come next in order of wastewater pollution threats to the environment in our state.  While several hundred cesspools are removed from service every year, it is time for a fair and responsible plan that eliminates all of these antiquated disposal systems.”

Under this proposed legislation, all cesspools, regardless of location, would have to be replaced when they fail, or when the property is sold or transferred to someone outside the immediate family.

Reps. Tanzi and Walsh picked the “point of sale” trigger for cesspool replacement because in recent years, many lenders – in particular the FHA – are reluctant to issue mortgages for the purchase of properties with cesspools. And because of real estate disclosure requirements, the presence of a cesspool makes it difficult to sell properties. “We think it’s in everyone’s self-interest to require cesspools to be replaced with new waste systems when a property is going on the market,” said Tanzi and Walsh.

Replacement systems must be approved by DEM as appropriate to protect health and the environment of the area where the property is located. The other way to replace an old cesspool is to tie into a public sewer system if that option is available.

If the bill is passed and signed by the Governor in this session, the bill sponsors propose January 1, 2014 as the date it will take effect so DEM will have the time to write the regulations to make this cesspool phase-out plan practical.

Rep. Teresa Tanzi represents House District 34 which includes Narragansett, Peace Dale and Wakefield. Rep. Donna Walsh represents House District 36 which includes all of Block Island and Charlestown and portions of South Kingstown and Westerly.