Town of Westminster, MA
Worcester County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Health of the Town of Westminster 8-19-2009,[1] effective 9-1-2009, as amended through 6-15-2011. Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
Plumbing — See Ch. 113.
Sewers — See Ch. 161.
Wells — See Ch. 200.
Private and semipublic wells — See Ch. 255.
In accordance with MGL c. 111, § 31, and MGL c. 21A, § 13, the Town of Westminster Board of Health ("the Board") hereby adopts the following local regulations for on-site subsurface disposal of sewage for the purpose of protecting the public health, safety, and welfare and for the protection of the environment.
The following regulations constitute an exercise of the power of home rule as provided in Amendment Article 89 of the Massachusetts Constitution. As such, they are in addition to the provisions of 310 CMR 15.000, the State Environmental Code Title 5, Standard Requirements for the Siting, Construction, Inspection, Upgrade, and Expansion of On-Site Sewage Treatment and Disposal Systems and for the Transport and Disposal of Septage ("Title 5"). All minimum offsets and other requirements of Title 5 shall apply unless otherwise hereby indicated in these regulations. All previous local sewage disposal regulations indicated in Chapter 245 of the Code of the Town of Westminster shall be superseded by these regulations.
Any existing requirement of Title 5 not specifically addressed in these regulations shall be deemed to be incorporated herein by reference. Should any such Title 5 regulation be amended, supplemented or modified after the adoption of these regulations so as to render it less stringent than at the time of the adoption of these regulations, such amendment, supplement or modification shall not apply hereunder until and unless the Board votes to adopt such amendment, supplement or modification.
Editor's Note: This regulation also superseded former Ch. 245, Subsurface Sewage Disposal Systems, effective 9-21-2005.

§ 245-1 Definitions.

The following words as used in these regulations shall have the following meanings, unless a different meaning is required by the context, or as specifically provided:
Any person authorized by the Board to act pursuant to MGL c. 111, § 30, 310 CMR 15.000 and these regulations.
The Board constituted in accordance with MGL c. 41, § 1 and/or § 1B .
A pit with open-jointed linings or holes in the bottom and/or sidewalls into which raw sewage is discharged, the liquid portion of the sewage being disposed of by seeping or leaching into the surrounding soils, and the solids or sludge being retained in the pit.
A change that would result in the increased utilization of the current septic system. Examples include, but are not limited to, increased flows, installation of a large whirlpool tub in a bathroom, any change that may have an effect on how the system is functioning.
A single parcel of land undivided by a street under one ownership with ascertainable boundaries established by a deed of record.
Any privately owned on-site wastewater system that serves more than one lot or more than one principal building or systems with a designed flow greater than 2,500 gallons per day.
The area defined by the outer edge of the leaching bed/field or the outer edge of the leaching trenches of a soil absorption system. This is the same area as is used in Title 5 to calculate the minimum area for the design of a soil absorption system.

§ 245-2 Permits.

All permits granted by the Board must be in writing and signed by a representative of the Board.
No work shall be commenced prior to having a signed permit in hand.

§ 245-3 Leaching area size.

In the Town of Westminster, all leaching areas shall be 125% of Title 5 design criteria.

§ 245-4 Increase of habitable space.

A passing official Title 5 inspection shall be required upon an increase in habitable space requiring a building permit from the local building inspector, where the estimated cost of such equals or exceeds 30% of the assessed value of the structure at the time of the application. A Title 5 inspection may be waived by the agent where the landowner produces a valid certificate of compliance issued not more than 10 years prior thereto or a valid Title 5 inspection report issued not more than five years prior thereto. In either case, no such waiver shall be issued unless the landowner also produces records acceptable to the agent showing that the system had been pumped at least every three years since the issuance of the certificate or the Title 5 inspection, as applicable.

§ 245-5 Location of system; retaining walls.

No septic system shall be located in whole or in part on a lot other than the lot upon which the facility to be served is located or to be located. No septic system fill shall be placed or located on a lot other than the lot upon which the facility to be served is located. These prohibitions shall not apply to the repair or replacement of a system lawfully in place at the time of the effective date of these regulations.
The use of a retaining wall in the design of a septic system is hereby prohibited. The Board may issue a variance from this prohibition where the applicant can prove to the Board's satisfaction that the retaining wall can be maintained and/or be rebuilt if necessary from the applicant's lot without affecting or encroaching on abutting property. The Board may, as a condition of such a variance, require security for the repair or rebuilding of the retaining wall. A survey may be required to delineate the property line.

§ 245-6 Interpretation of inspection results.

A Title 5 inspection, including a passing Title 5 inspection report, shall not be interpreted as establishing that the system is or will function properly, and the Board reserves the right to undertake such enforcement action as it deems appropriate with regard to an improperly functioning system notwithstanding such a passing Title 5 report.

§ 245-7 Employment of outside consultants.

In accordance with MGL c. 44, § 53G, the Board may require an applicant for a subsurface disposal system to deposit funds for the employment of outside consultants. The applicant shall have the right to an administrative appeal from the selection of the outside consultant to the Board of Selectmen. The grounds for such an appeal shall be limited to claims that the consultant selected has a conflict of interest or does not possess the minimum, required qualifications. The minimum qualifications shall consist either of an educational degree in or related to the field at issue or three or more years of practice in the field at issue or a related field.

§ 245-8 Shared and/or common systems.

Shared and/or common subsurface disposal systems are hereby prohibited. Any sewage disposal system must be located on the same lot as the dwelling or facility it serves. The Board may issue a variance from this prohibition of shared or common systems where an existing system has failed or is otherwise in need of repair or replacement, and due to soil or lot conditions it is not feasible to replace the system with an individual system. The landowner shall have the burden of establishing that an individual system is not feasible. The Board may also grant a hardship variance for any shared and/or common systems approved between September 21, 2005, and July 1, 2009, but not built. Any shared and/or common system approved by variance or any system that becomes a shared and/or common system by virtue of a conversion of the property to condominium ownership, shall be subject to a financial security agreement providing for the ongoing repair, upgrade and replacement of the system in a form and on terms acceptable to the Board.

§ 245-9 Length of validity of soil tests.

Percolation tests and deep hole observation tests shall expire two years after the date of completion. Written requests for extensions may be allowed on a site-specific basis, provided that the location of the percolation test and deep hole observation tests can be located from known and recoverable reference points or benchmarks so that it may be located on the system design plan within one foot, and that there have been no alterations of the area, adjacent areas, or other changes that may have compromised the validity of the tests.

§ 245-10 Percolation and soil testing.

Percolation and soil testing shall be allowed to be conducted year round. On lots where it is difficult to determine the estimated seasonal high-water table by soil mottling, the Board may require a groundwater-monitoring well to be installed on the lot for confirmation of the estimated seasonal high-water table. The type, design, time duration and other specifics of the monitoring wells will be left to the discretion of the Agent and/or the Board. No leaching area primary or reserve shall be sited within 25 feet from an abandoned or unsuitable deep observation hole or unsuitable percolation test. When the system design includes the reserve between the primary trenches, there need to be two acceptable percolation tests within 10 feet of the soil absorption system perimeter, with one being within the perimeter. When the system design includes the reserve being separate from the primary system, there needs to be one acceptable percolation test within the soil absorption system perimeter and one within the designated area for the reserve. When the percolation tests are not consistent, the agent will require additional testing in order to assure proper sizing of the system.

§ 245-11 Design, construction and certification of compliance for septic systems.

All piping, including the perforated leaching area pipe, shall be a minimum Schedule 40.
Except when indicated otherwise by Title 5, every septic tank shall be equipped with an effluent outlet tee filter approved by the Department of Environmental Protection.
Access ports for gaining access to the D-box and tanks must be within six inches of final grade.
All distribution boxes installed shall be H-20 load rated.
All systems utilizing pump chambers shall have a system operation manual posted in immediate proximity to the alarm panel so the homeowner can access it.
A septic plan shall contain a provision for pumping the tank if the vertical distance between the bottom of the septic tank and the elevation where the pumping truck is located is greater than 28 feet.
All septic plans shall contain a change/revisions log. No changes from the original submitted plan will be deemed approved unless each change has been initialed by the approving authority.
All subsurface sewage disposal systems shall have the following minimum inspections as required by the Board.
Initial inspection prior to filling the leaching area with fill (bottom of the bed/trench).
Completed system prior to backfilling.
Final grading inspection.
The agent may require additional inspections at his/her discretion.
The designer's as-built plan shall be prepared in accordance with Title 5's requirements, include final grading elevations, and submitted in triplicate. The as-built shall also be submitted on compact disc in PDF format.
The installer's as-built plan shall be prepared on a form provided by the Westminster Board of Health.
Prior to the issuance of a certificate of compliance by the Board of Health, the applicant or the system installer shall provide the designer's as-built drawing in a form specified by the Board as a permanent document (laminated) at a location in the dwelling near the building sewer exit location or electrical service entry, which shows location on the lot of the septic tank, distribution box, leaching area, and well where applicable.
No construction shall begin on a septic system until the Building Department grants a building permit.
No certificate of compliance will be issued until such time as the building is complete enough to ascertain the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

§ 245-12 Systems constructed within watershed protection areas.

The Westminster Board of Health reserves the right to modify the regulations and treat each system in drinking water and/or watershed protection areas in the Town separately to assure the health and general welfare of individuals using this resource.
Anyone planning on siting a system in these areas must contact the Health Agent prior to expending any resources to find out if additional requirements may be required.

§ 245-13 Septic tank pumping program.

Every subsurface disposal system septic tank shall be pumped when the sludge exceeds 1/4 of the tank's depth or once every three years, whichever occurs sooner. For multifamily dwellings, including condominiums, apartments, motels, hotels and boardinghouses, the septic tank shall be pumped at least once every year. The owner of any such multifamily dwelling shall provide to the Board written proof of such annual pumping, by paid invoice or other suitable documentation from a septage handler who has a valid Massachusetts permit, on or before February 1 of each year, for the preceding calendar year.

§ 245-14 Setback requirements.

No new sewage disposal system shall be installed within 100 feet of any watercourse, stream, brook, river, pond or wetlands. For any system, the distances required by Title 5 and these regulations are minimum distances which may be increased if, in the opinion of the agent, such an increase is required to protect the environment or the public health. The Board may grant a hardship variance for lots purchased or created between September 21, 2005, and July 1, 2009, in reliance on the prior regulation where the system could have been located 50 feet from such watercourse, stream, brook, river, pond or wetland, but cannot be located more than 100 feet therefrom.

§ 245-15 Deviations from approved plan.

The applicant shall install the subsurface disposal system in strict conformity with the approved plan. Minor deviations from the approved plan may be permitted by the agent where the designer submits, in writing, a statement setting forth the deviation and affirming that the deviation does not affect the plan's compliance with these regulations. All such deviations shall be shown on the as-built plans.

§ 245-16 Required recordings.

The following events will require the applicant to file with the Registry of Deeds a recording acceptable to the Board prior to granting a construction permit or a certificate of compliance as specified in Title 5. Reference in Title 5:[1]
Smaller number of bedrooms than presumed by Title 5: 15.002, Bedroom.
Open space created in a cluster development: 15.002, Cluster Development.
A home with flow of less than 330 gallons per day: 15.203.
The number of bedrooms in a condominium: 15.203.
Installation of a tight tank: 15.260(6).
Installation of an alternative technology: 15.287(10).
Installation of a shared system: 15.290(2)(e).
For large systems, demonstration of an equal level of environmental protection: 15.304(3)(b)6.
A variance issued for which a deed restriction is required: Title 5 15.413(1).
Facility aggregation plans: 15.216(5)(a)2.
Editor's Note: See 310 CMR 15.000 et seq.

§ 245-17 Possession and availability of plan.

All installers of subsurface disposal systems shall have a copy of the stamped approved plan in their possession on the site while installing the system, which shall be available to the agent at the time of any inspection.

§ 245-18 Extensive rehabilitation of unoccupied dilapidated structure.

Where an existing unoccupied, dilapidated structure is proposed for redevelopment, rehabilitated, renovated, reconstructed, or remodeled, the septic system must have been designed and installed in compliance with the then-current Title 5 regulations, and the owner shall provide a current "passed" Title 5 inspection.

§ 245-19 Revocation of permit or certificate of compliance.

The Board reserves the right to revoke any approval, permit or certificate of compliance which is found to be based on incorrect, incomplete or misleading information.

§ 245-20 Title 5 system inspectors.

All Title 5 inspections must be witnessed by the agent unless a waiver is granted. All items included in a Title 5 onspection report must be personally witnessed by the inspector, including but not limited to the number of bedrooms, laundry facilities, water filtration systems, and the presence of a garbage grinder. The report shall specifically identify the source of the information in the report. Example: "Plan located at Board of Health dated 5/16/2005," or "septic plan from homeowner dated 5/16/2007." The agent must be notified at least 72 hours in advance of any proposed inspection.

§ 245-21 Title 5 inspections.

All seepage pits must be located and inspected.
All cesspools systems shall constitute an automatic failure.
The Board or its agent may request a soil evaluation by a state-certified soil evaluator for any Title 5 inspection.
Private wells must be tested as Part of the Title 5 inspection done for transfer of property.
Groundwater determination may be accomplished with the concurrence of the agent in the following ways:
Perc test/soil evaluation data done after October 1995.
Soil evaluation from nearby lot.
Observe below the deepest component to show it is not sitting in groundwater.
The location/elevation of the system in proximity to a body of water or wetland.
Other evidence of water table levels, i.e., sump pump, shallow well, lake level, etc.
Other methods listed in Title 5 inspector training book.
Repairs to sanitary tees and the installation of risers do not need a disposal works construction permit from the Board. All other repairs will need a permit and require a licensed installer.

§ 245-22 Plan approval and construction permit expiration.

All plans approved and construction permits granted shall lapse three years from the date of endorsement or issuance unless a certificate of compliance is issued therefor. If a plan or permit lapses, the applicant shall file a new application and meet the then-current regulations. The Board may issue one extension, for a period of no more than one year, provided that the application for such extension is filed prior to the lapse of the permit.

§ 245-23 Wiring.

Systems requiring power and/or alarms need a wiring permit and must meet all applicable requirements.
Additional requirements:
All pumps need to be hard-wired; no plugs.
No plugs in pump chamber.
All alarms need to be hard-wired and on their own circuit.

§ 245-24 Violations and penalties.

A fine of $50 per day will be imposed on anyone who knowingly violates the state's and/or the Town's Sanitary Code.