News Feature | February 4, 2014

Delaware Septic Regs Designed To Aide Chesapeake Bay

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome


New septic rules went live in Delaware recently with the aim of helping the state meet its federal Chesapeake Bay goals. 

The rules were already in effect in parts of the state, but now they have been expanded to the entire state, according to WDDE, the NPR news station in Delaware.

"The new regulations are designed to keep pace with changes in technology for large and small [septic] systems, protect public health, and reduce pollution in groundwater, streams, rivers and bays, helping Delaware to meet its goal of achieving clean water," the Coastal Point reported

The rules also serve the function of "protecting homebuyers from acquiring malfunctioning septic systems," the report said. They include "requirements for small residential septic systems of less than 2,500 gallons of wastewater treated per day, as well as large community and commercial systems of more than 2,500 gallons of wastewater treated per day," according to the Smyrna-Clayton Sun-Times

The rules are overseen by Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC). The department "estimates that 18 percent of the state’s 70,000 septic systems may be malfunctioning, which has contributed to groundwater contamination and polluted nearly all of the state’s rivers and streams," WDDE reported. 

“We want to make sure that there’s time for homeowners and contractors and others to become fully aware of all the requirements and make sure they’re aware of the financing programs and technology standards,” DNREC Secretary Colin O’Mara in the report. “So we’ll do a lot of education outreach over the next year.”

The department "spent the last five years in public hearings and workshops to develop the new regulations and ensure they had as little impact as possible on property owners’ bottom lines," WDDE reported, citing O'Mara. 

Image credit: "Septic Systems and Steep Slopes (18)," © 2004 Soil Science @ NC State, used under a Attribution 2.0 Generic license:

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