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Community and Q&A

Who is responsible for maintaining a record of the layout of private citizen’s septic system to be sure their system meets regs?

Stacey Gates | Posted in General Questions on

We had a water test come back from Endyne as positive for E. coli. As a matter of course we of course thought of our nearest neighbor as leaking human fecal matter into our driven well system.

Upon calling the town to find out what kind of septic system our neighbor has, the town indicated that they did not have a record because of the age of the system.

We talked to several individuals familiar with driven wells and ended up shocking our system in the manner suggested and also took the latest sample sent to Endyne as advised by the individuals we spoke with, and we just got the latest result as being negative and the water is OK to drink.

However, we still find it unusual that there appears to be no record to our neighbor’s septic system lay out. ????

Just for information purposes, what would our course of action be if the latest water sample had proved to be positive for E. coli?

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    It should come as no surprise that there are hundreds of thousands of septic systems installed in the U.S. that are not documented in any way. Where I live, in northern Vermont, many residentail drain pipes lead to an old barrel buried in the yard, or to a home-made cesspool. State-wide regulations for the design of residential septic systems were only passed in Vermont about 15 or 20 years ago. Before that, it was the Wild West.

    My own septic tank was installed by a bulldozer and backhoe operator who learned a few concepts from his dad. I installed the leach field myself, according to my own ideas. No one asked me to document the system in any way.

    If you end up in a dispute with your neighbor, you should contact a lawyer.

  2. GBA Editor
    Andy Engel | | #2

    E. coli can come from many sources. Has anyone done any recent plumbing projects at the house? Microbes can be introduced in that way. When I was building houses, I did several on a limestone formation in NJ that had lots of fissures. Even with drilled and cased wells and inspected septic systems in the whole neighborhood, several wells still came back positive for e. coli. Two didn't respond to multiple attempts at chlorination. In those cases, I had UV systems installed to meet health code.

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