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County Sewage Disposal Plan an Unfair Burden

The Bernalillo County Commission is considering a revised ordinance that targets those of us who rely on septic tanks for our sewage disposal.

Residents who have the oldest systems will be tested first as to its compliance with the new standards. People who have a system that fails an inspection – which is most likely with tanks 30 years and older – will be required to replace their septic tank with a new one that has fans and motors.

The cost to homeowners with failed septic tanks would be between $7,000 and $10,000.

Electricity would need to be brought to the site as well. We would then be required to maintain a contract with a septic company for periodical monitoring and pumping out services – a cost of another $400 to $600 per year.

Although I have no qualms about the need to reduce the pollution of our groundwater, I hereby implore our County Commission to shift their priorities from burdening the individual to providing us with a sewer system that we can connect to.

This would cost us approximately $2,000 to hook up. Then our monthly fee with the utility service should be around $12, commensurate with the fee other residents of Bernalillo County pay for sewage disposal.

When our homes were constructed, we initially paid for septic tanks that complied with the county code at that time. Asking us to purchase yet another, more expensive, system seems harsh, especially in these difficult economic times.

If we all immediately stopped using our septic tanks, it will take 20 years for the contamination to cease percolating into the groundwater. The new septic tanks still discharge effluent into the ground, though to a lesser degree.

This is kicking the can down the road for additional 20 years to come.

It seems to me the logical solution is to provide sewer lines that will serve the majority of septic tank users. We have paid taxes toward providing sewer lines to other parts of the county. So it seems only fair that we become the recipients of a sewer system as well.

I want to stress the importance of each septic tank user calling his or her commissioner and asking them to shift their efforts to providing their residents with a truly effective solution to this environmental problem.