Village of Cooperstown, NY
Otsego County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Cooperstown 10-24-2011 by L.L. No. 8-2011. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Sewers — See Ch. 220.
Subdivision of land — See Ch. 245.
Procedures for Inspections and Surveys of On-Site Wastewater Treatment Systems Otsego Lake Watershed

§ 285-1 History and authority.

A. 
On January 22, 1985, Section 1100 of the New York State Public Health Law was amended by Section 136.3 to Part 136 of Chapter III of Title 10 of the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York, referred to herein as Public Law 1100: "This chapter shall apply to Otsego Lake and all watercourses tributary thereto or which may be developed in the future to serve as sources of water supply of the Village of Cooperstown in the Towns of Otsego, Middlefield and Springfield . . . " excluding "any areas not within Otsego County and, in addition, shall also exclude Allen Lake and its tributary watercourses."
B. 
Public Health Law § 136.3(d)(6)(ix) states: "Before any existing sewage disposal system is altered or any new septic system is constructed on the watershed, the plans in relation thereto shall have first been approved by the Board of Water Commissioners of the Village of Cooperstown. Standards for water treatment works as published from time to time by the New York State Department of Health shall comprise the criteria to approve any proposed sewage disposal system. For existing systems that cannot meet these standards due to lot restriction, the guidelines shall be as outlined by the Board of Water Commissioners."
C. 
The Village of Cooperstown Water Board established the Watershed Supervisory Committee (WSC) in 1985 as a means to administer Public Law 1100 on behalf of the Water Board, with representation from each of the affected municipalities, two members from the Village and one member from each of the Towns (five members in all).
D. 
In 1994 the Otsego Lake Watershed Council was established with "representatives from the Towns of Middlefield, Otsego and Springfield and the Village of Cooperstown" with participation from the public and a broad base of stakeholders for the purpose of preparing a management plan for the Otsego Lake watershed. "A Plan for the Management of the Otsego Lake Watershed" was published in April 1998, and subsequently endorsed for implementation by each of the municipalities noted above. Page 7 of the 1998 Plan presents a list of recommendations containing 14 items. Item 13, "Plan Administration and Financing," states in part "continue and further define the Otsego Lake Watershed Supervisory Committee's role in coordinating the management of the lake and watershed."
E. 
The Watershed Council voted itself out of existence in March 2003, whereupon the Otsego County Water Quality Coordinating Committee (WQCC), a broadly based coalition of environmental groups, voted to accept the responsibility for continued management of the 1998 Plan on March 31, 2003.

§ 285-2 Organization.

A. 
The Otsego Lake Watershed Supervisory Committee (WSC) shall administer Public Law 1100 and local laws which are established for the purpose of protecting Otsego Lake as a public water supply and shall be guided by the 1998 Plan for the Management of the Otsego Lake Watershed in carrying out its responsibilities. Advice and guidance will be given by the Otsego County Water Quality Coordinating Committee (WQCC).
B. 
Membership shall consist of two members from the Village of Cooperstown and one member each from the Towns of Middlefield, Otsego and Springfield. Appointments shall be for two years, except that initial appointments during reorganization may be staggered to promote smooth transfers.
C. 
The Village Water Board Chairman will communicate with the chief executive officer of each respective municipality and seek concurrence on the proposed appointee's qualifications and abilities. The Village Water Board will vote to decide on the appointments to the WSC.

§ 285-3 Meetings.

The WSC shall meet routinely during the first week of the month, in order to precede the monthly Water Board meeting. Normally meetings will be held in the Village Building. Special meetings will be held as needed upon the call of the Chairman. Meetings may be cancelled during the winter months. Three members of the WSC shall constitute a quorum.

§ 285-4 Duties.

A. 
The WSC will develop and promulgate management regulations for on-site wastewater treatment systems (OWTS) in the Otsego Lake Watershed.
B. 
The WSC will implement these regulations by a system of inspection of these systems that lie within 500 feet of the shoreline of Otsego Lake or 100 feet from one of its tributaries, an area referred to as the "zone of protection." Inspection shall be both periodic and upon transfer of property or failure of a system.
C. 
The Watershed Supervisory Committee shall employ a Watershed Coordinator and a Systems Inspector.
(1) 
Duties of the Coordinator shall include:
(a) 
Organizing and maintaining an inventory of watershed OWTS on a suitable computerized filing system.
(b) 
Planning and supervising a five-year rotation of inspections of all septic systems in the Otsego Lake zone of protection.
(c) 
Reviewing engineering designs of new and replacement OWTS and presenting them to the WSC for approval.
(d) 
Overseeing the installation of OWTS in Otsego Lake's zone of protection.
(e) 
Assisting in hiring inventory takers and inspectors.
(f) 
Organizing training of inventory takers, inspectors and contractors.
(g) 
Organizing an educational program for watershed property owners.
(h) 
Preparing status reports for the WSC and organizing meetings.
(i) 
Managing watershed issues that threaten the lake as a drinking water supply.
(2) 
Duties of the Inspector shall include:
(a) 
Scheduling and conducting inspections of OWTS in the Otsego Lake zone of protection.
(b) 
Coordinating inspections with wastewater haulers.
(c) 
Documenting inspection findings with reports and photos.
(d) 
Recommending pass/fail of OWTS to WSC, based on inspection findings.
(e) 
Inspecting and documenting OWTS upgrades.
(f) 
Maintaining OWTS files.
(g) 
Attending WSC meetings.

§ 285-5 Definitions.

A. 
Definitions found in subsection (b) of Section 136.3 of Public Health Law 1100 and in Appendix 75-A of Section 201(1)(1) of the Public Health Law shall apply.
B. 
The shore line of Otsego Lake shall be defined as the edge of the water at a lake height of 1,194.5 feet above sea level. This is essentially equal to 1.5 feet above the concrete surface of the dam at Mill Street.
C. 
A tributary stream to Otsego Lake shall be defined as being listed in the Department of Environmental Conservation's Index of Waters.
D. 
WSC is the Otsego Lake Watershed Supervisory Committee.

§ 285-6 Purpose.

The purpose of these regulations is to protect the water quality of Otsego Lake. These standards are established to protect public health by ensuring adequate performance of on-site wastewater treatment systems (OWTS) and so to optimize the effectiveness of the systems at removing pathogens and nutrients from wastewater.

§ 285-7 Applicability.

The provisions of these regulations shall be in effect in the municipalities of Cooperstown and the Towns of Middlefield, Otsego and Springfield and shall include the land within 500 feet of the shoreline of Otsego Lake and within 100 feet of feeder streams to Otsego Lake having a DEC index of waters number (a zone of protection).

§ 285-8 Validity.

If any section, paragraph, subdivision or provision of this chapter shall be judged invalid or held unconstitutional, the same shall not affect the validity of this chapter as a whole or any part or provision thereof other than the part so decided to be invalid or unconstitutional.

§ 285-9 Wastewater system inspections.

The Watershed Coordinator, Systems Inspector and town codes enforcement officials (codes officials) shall be allowed to make regular visits to wastewater treatment systems in the zone of protection for purposes of inspection, observation and testing. It shall be the duty and obligation of the wastewater system owner to supply upon request, to the Watershed Coordinator, Systems Inspector or municipal codes official, available information regarding wastewater system type, capacity, location, usage, age, maintenance, etc., in order to determine the system's effectiveness. Data gathered during an inspection will be included in a wastewater treatment system inventory of all systems covered by this chapter and maintained on behalf of the Otsego Lake Watershed Supervisory Committee.

§ 285-10 Approval of new or modified septic systems.

A. 
Systems farther than 500 feet from the Lake or 100 feet from a tributary: Codes Official approves or denies, report to WSC. All designs of new or replacement systems in the zone of protection shall be reviewed and approved by the WSC, with notification sent to County Codes. These systems must be built in accordance with an engineer-designed plan or have been approved by the New York State Department of Health.
B. 
Holding tanks. The installation of a holding tank system for household wastewater will not be allowed within 500 feet of Otsego Lake unless granted an individual variance by the Otsego Lake Watershed Supervisory Committee (WSC). The following conditions must be met before a variance is granted:
(1) 
A site survey is conducted by a New York State licensed professional engineer (P.E.).
(2) 
A determination is made by the engineer that the site is not suitable for an on-site treatment system, including alternative design systems, and that the only option for handling wastewater is a holding tank.
(3) 
A report is sent to the WSC on the findings of the site survey, which would include the reasons the site is not suitable for an on-site system.
(4) 
The design of the holding tank system is done by the engineer and is in accordance with WSC standards.

§ 285-11 Inspections of existing systems.

A. 
These regulations cover on-site systems located 500 feet or less from the shoreline of Otsego Lake or 100 feet or less from a tributary stream to the lake.
B. 
Systems installed within two years of a property transfer or a regular inspection can obtain an inspection waiver by submitting a copy of the installed system design stamped by a professional engineer. Tanks that have been pumped out within one year of a property transfer or regular inspection can obtain a waiver on septage pumping by submitting a copy of a bill for septage hauling services.
(1) 
Regular on-site system inspections.
(a) 
All on-site wastewater treatment systems covered as indicated above will be inspected once every five years by a certified WSC inspector.
(b) 
If the system passes the inspection, a certificate of compliance will be issued with copies to the homeowner and the Watershed Coordinator.
(c) 
If the system fails the inspection, a written notice of violation will be issued as per § 285-12. Property owners have up to 30 days to contact the WSC with their plan for corrective action.
(d) 
For alternative-design nonconventional systems, also know as "enhanced treatment units" (ETUs), the owner must provide a copy of the service contract to the inspector at the time of the inspection.
(2) 
Property transfers.
(a) 
On-site wastewater treatment systems should be inspected and tanks pumped within 30 days before the transfer of property at the expense of the seller. It is recommended that property transfer inspections and pumping be arranged by the property owner as early in the selling process as possible in order to obtain an accurate assessment of the system. (Note: If the system has been inspected within five years of the expected transfer, and the owner presents a certificate of compliance issued by the WSC, the inspection at property transfer will be waived.)
(b) 
For ETU systems, the owner must send a signed copy of a service contract to the WSC within 30 days after property transfer.
(3) 
Reported violations. On-site systems shall be inspected following any reported violation. These inspections are performed by municipal codes enforcement officers or certified WSC inspectors.

§ 285-12 Violations; penalties for offenses.

A. 
Whenever it shall appear to a septic system inspector that a system is not performing properly, it shall be reported to the Watershed Coordinator, who shall further report it to the Watershed Supervisory Committee.
B. 
Whenever it shall be determined by the Watershed Supervisory Committee that a wastewater system is inadequate, a written notice of violation will be sent to the property owner, specifying the nature of the violation, the required corrective action, and the date by which corrective action shall be completed. The owner of the wastewater system has up to 30 days from receipt of the notice of violation to contact the WSC. Completion of the work detailed in the notice of violation shall be performed within the time period specified, not to exceed one year. Any violation beyond that date shall be dealt with as follows:
(1) 
If a property owner does not respond to a notice of violation (NOV) regarding his septic system, or refuses to allow the Watershed Supervisory Committee (WSC) to inspect his septic system, the WSC shall seek a legal remedy to resolve the violation through the property owner's town codes enforcement.
(2) 
A certified letter will be sent to the property owner, with a copy to the town enforcement officer, informing the owner that legal remedies, include the seeking of imposing a fine of up to $500 (and/or imprisonment of up to 15 days) for each week of future uncorrected violation. Additionally, the town has the authority to seek injunctive relief, which would be a court order either requiring the property owner to correct the violation or authorizing the WSC to do so at the owner's expense.
(3) 
The property owner will contact the town enforcement officer to discuss initiating compliance with WSC regulations. The options for compliance include upgrading or decommissioning a failed septic system, and in the case of refusing inspection, allowing the septic system to be inspected. Decommissioning a system means taking it out of service by capping the discharge sewer line and either removing the system or backfilling it in place.
(4) 
Legal action as described in Subsection B(2) above will be taken by the town enforcement officer if there is no response from the property owner after 15 days following receipt of the certified violations and penalties letter.

§ 285-13 Fees.

A fee which may be charged for each routine wastewater system inspection shall be set by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Cooperstown.