Septic Solutions Come with Responsibilities

            Engineer Rick Charon’s thorough presentation to the Marion Board of Health helped its members arrive at an understanding of the challenges faced by the owner at 31 Partridge Place, resulting in a vote to grant two variances from Title 5 of the state Environmental Code.

            As a result, the residential property will be allowed to place a leaching field 35 feet from a subsurface drain rather than the required 50 feet and will be allowed to use one instead of the required two observation holes (test pits.)

            Charon displayed a site plan illustrating the constraints of a solution to a complicated placement of a water line, maintaining a 10-foot setback of that line while rerouting it so as not to intercept a new septic system.

            The complication with the septic system, Charon explained, is a closed drainage pipe that sits inches below the groundwater table. “As a result, it triggers that 50-foot setback (requirement),” he said. “Again, what we’re putting into that leaching field is … pretty clean water.”

            Because of the effluent going into the leaching field, Charon told the board it could justify a variance.

            Due to a combination of obstacles, Charon said one test pit was used, and he told the board Dave Flaherty, who had acted as Marion’s Health agent earlier this year, said one test pit for this case is okay.

            Board of Health member Dr. Ed Hoffer asked Charon if the applicants understand the necessity of maintenance and recordkeeping, to which Charon assured him those discussions have taken place.

            Charon also provided the board a septic update at 664 Mill Street, where the owner of a space containing a package store and an apartment seeks to install an approved septic upgrade. Board of Health member Albin Johnson called the area “no man’s land.”

            Charon explained that the applicant proposed replacing a 20-year-old MicroFast system that was installed to reduce the setback to a wetland area in the back yard. He told the board the wetland area was only 15 feet away from the system. The board, he said, originally approved the variance because of the MicroFast secondary-treatment unit. The last available records, he said, go back to 2015. He did not know if it was a denitrification system.

            “For about seven years, this thing has not had regular inspections or maintenance,” said Charon.

            In the meantime, he said, the pump chamber failed and the whole system has been flooded. However, the flooding, he said, topped off so that it did not break the ground but instead went into the leaching field. The leaching field, he said, looks good. He said the replacement of mechanical components is all the system needs.

            Because of the noise they created, Charon said it was typical of homeowners to unplug FAST systems following inspection. They would also save on electricity. But he noted that Board of Health consultant George Heufelder came back with the news that the system is limited to residential, disqualifying it for the package store.

            “The nearest sewer is four or five houses up,” said Charon, adding that cutting into Route 6 involves too much red tape and cost.

            Johnson asked if there is a provision for a variance in the matter. Charon indicated that any variances are considered for other reasons. Hoffer suggested a small, commercial unit.

            The discussion ended without a solution.

            In her health agent position update, Health Director Lori Desmarais introduced and recommended Shalin Rodriguez, who holds a master’s degree in public health, has served an internship and already holds several certifications.

            The board greeted and briefly interviewed Rodriguez before voting unanimously to appoint her to the health-agent job in Marion.

            Desmarais reported that Marion has had 11 COVID-19 cases in November.

            The next meeting of the Marion Board of Health was not scheduled at adjournment.

Marion Board of Health

By Mick Colageo

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