Updating Zoning Rules To Protect Water Wells From New Septic Tank Installations

Zoning ordinances are sometimes not updated until the necessity for change is clearly established. In the meantime, problems that should have been averted due to zoning restrictions can actually arise within a community. As population density increases, for example, the minimum lot size requirement for new homes with a septic tank needs to be increased to protect the integrity of groundwater in nearby water wells.

In sparsely populated areas, properly functioning septic tank systems usually have no impact on the quality of water in local water wells. Septic tank systems can, however, lose efficiency or even fail over time. In a fast-growing community, zoning regulations may need to be updated to prevent the installation of too many new septic tank systems.

Selective lot size increases

Various cities and counties have their own set of regulations governing residential lot size requirements. For new homes with septic tanks, the increase in the lot size requirement could be as little as a fraction of an acre. In addition to protecting local water wells, a larger lot size contains additional space that may be needed if the septic system needs to be modified.

Advantages of larger lots

After liquid effluent exits a septic tank, a series of drain trenches normally allow the liquid to be absorbed into the soil. If a homeowner neglects to have a septic tank pumped on a reasonable schedule, the effluent may damage the drain trenches. Repair of a clogged drain trench is sometimes impossible, but a replacement trench can be installed if there is adequate space for a new drain trench.

Density of local septic tank installations

The long-term effect of increasing the minimum lot size requirement for new homes with septic tanks would be to control the density of septic tank systems. For new homes without a septic tank system, a smaller lot size requirement could remain in effect. The larger lots would not only help isolate you from neighboring septic problems but they could also protect your own water well.

Additional design flexibility

For new homes with mortgages guaranteed by the federal agency HUD, the minimum distance required between a septic tank and a water well is 50 feet. For the potentially troublesome absorption field, the minimum distance requirement from a well is only 100 feet. A larger building lot provides additional flexibility in the placement of septic system components.

Some municipalities already have zoning rules in effect to control the increasing density of septic tank installations. For cities and counties in need of zoning updates, now is the time to act to ensure that the groundwater in local water wells remains protected. For more information, visit a website like https://www.watersystemscouncil.org.


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