Homeowners on Savary Avenue in Sagamore Beach who have relied on a shared-use septic system that failed more than a year ago now are on their own to install their own private systems.
The Town of Bourne has decided against replacing the failed shared system.
The announcement was made during the sewer commission’s October 3 meeting.
Commission chairman James L. Potter explained that it made more sense financially for the homeowners to put in their own septic systems than to have the town install a new system.
In his statement, Mr. Potter said that the Bourne Board of Health, prior to approving a new shared system, had demanded assurance that all of the homes on the system switch to private septic systems within the next 15 years. The board of health is the permitting agency for approval of all septic systems.
Mr. Potter said that forcing homeowners to pay for two systems—one shared, one private—was unfair.
“I cannot justify requiring a homeowner to pay to connect to the shared system for only 15 years of service, whereas they will receive more years of service from a private system at a similar cost,” he said.
The system failed on September 27, 2018. Since then, the town has been pumping the collection tank every two to three days. The cost to pump out the failed tank has grown to more than $100,000.
Homeowners will have to hire a civil engineer and apply for permitting from the board of health as soon as possible.
By November 6, all homeowners must have a ground percolation test done and have hired a civil engineer to design a system.
Homeowners are to inform the town by December 1 where they stand relative to installation and the permitting process with the board of health, he said.
All systems must be installed before February 6, 2020. As of that date, the sewer department will no long pump out the failed system, Mr. Potter said.
“Any homeowner that does not intentionally install their system prior to February 6, 2020, will not be in compliance with Title V or the board of health,” he said.
Homeowners who have not installed a new system by February 6, 2020, run the risk of not being able to stay in their home, Mr. Potter said. Being able to stay in their home will be at the discretion of Bourne Health Agent Terri Guarino and the board of health, he said.
Residents who attended the meeting said they were in favor of the board’s decision. Brian Cleary of 38 Savary Avenue agreed it did not make sense to force homeowners to spend money on the shared system and then again 15 years later on a new private system.
Mr. Cleary did question the ease with which homeowners in need of an easement would be able to get one from the town in order to install a system. Mr. Potter assured Mr. Cleary that the town would work with anyone who is a special case requiring an easement.
Patricia Lubold of 21 Savary Avenue also agreed with the board’s decision, and thanked the members for their efforts over the past year in dealing with what to do about the failed system. Ms. Lubold questioned whether she would be restricted in the size of the septic system she would get installed.
Board members said the septic size was the purview of the board of health, and not the sewer commissioners.
Edward J. McGuire of 52 Savary Avenue said he was worried about meeting the timeline the board had established. A neighbor has to install a system first because installation equipment would have to be brought across Mr. McGuire’s property. Mr. McGuire said if he installs his system first, his neighbor will not be able to install his own.
“So I have to wait for him to put his in before me,” Mr. McGuire said.
Commission member Jared P. MacDonald assured Mr. McGuire that the commissioner would work with homeowners on scheduling so that homeowners will be able to meet the February 6 deadline.
The board unanimously approved two motions. The first was to remove the town’s application before the board of health for the shared system. The second was the timeline specifying November 6 as the date for perc tests to be done, December 1 for permitting applications to be submitted to the board of health, and February 6, 2020, for new private systems to be installed.