The mayor and council unanimously voted Monday night to adopt the amendment to the sewer ordinance requiring a Certificate of Occupancy (C.O.) to ensure that a property does not have illegal sump pumps or illegal connections to the sanitary sewer system.
The amendment will read, in part, that as of January 1, 2013, any property owner negotiating the sale of their home who has a sump pump must have its connection inspected as a condition of the sale.
This amendment is the direct result of the Bergen County Utilities Authority (BCUA) directive requiring all boroughs to inspect homes and businesses for illegally connected sump pumps. This notice comes as a result of 2011's severe weather events whereby the BCUA's water sanitary sewer lines exceeded their capacities resulting in a number of sewer overflows into the environment. Sewer lines are not big enough to accomodate the large volumes of water that storm drainage systems can.
The borough is charged for the amount of water that flows through the sewerage drain, so storm water adds to the town's expenses.
In a letter to the borough dated March 7, the BCUA said that part of the problem was a result of clean water entering the municipal sanitary sewer system through "illegally connected basement sump pumps." A sump pump must be hooked up to a storm drain or a seepage pit.
The BCUA said that during storms, sump pumps illegally connected to the sanitary sewer lines resulted in clean rainwater being treated at a large cost. Clean storm water entering the sanitary sewer system affects the cost of treatment which, in turn, affects the sewer rates that residents pay through taxes.
Mayor Ann Subrizi said that she spoke with BCUA and asked the amount of storm water being processed through the sanitary sewer system, but they did not have actual figures. They instructed New Milford to reduce the amount of storm water entering the sewer system by 30 percent.
Subrizi said that although the BCUA could not provide the actual cost per homeowner, nor the actual amount of storm water illegally entering the sanitary sewer line, she said that a reduction by 30 percent represents a savings of approximately $375,000 for the town.
Because inspecting every household for an illegal connections is unrealistic, the mayor and council have amended the existing sewer ordinance to make an inspection of sump pump hook-ups a condition of the sale of property. The deadline for compliance is Dec. 31.
Members of the public questioned the mayor and council about this new law.
Terry Laxis of Columbia Street said, "When I bought my house my sump pump was in violation to this ordinance." He asked if he would be grandfathered in.
Subrizi explained that there is no grandfather element to this.
'It has always been illegal to hook a sump pump up to sewer line," Subrizi said, adding that the BCUA mandated that New Milford address this situation.
Officials say that if you are not in compliance, when you sell your house you will be fined $500 and will not receive a Certificate of Occupancy (C.O.) until it is rectified.
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