R.I. homeowners face phaseout of cesspools
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R.I. homeowners face phaseout of cesspools

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Proposed tax hikes that would have made it more costly for people to sell real estate, obtain new mortgages or refinance existing ones failed to become law in Rhode Island this year, but Governor Carcieri has signed legislation that will affect one group of homeowners.

The new law, designed to phase out cesspools, is a boon for public health and the environment, but the cost of replacing these archaic private waste disposal systems could be a financial burden for individual homeowners, especially those living in coastal areas.

The law has two levels of regulation: one specifically for cesspools located within 200 feet of coastal areas or public water supplies, deemed as a more immediate threat to public health, and another for the remainder of cesspools.

When the law goes into effect next year on June 1, cesspools near water supplies will have to be tested, and replaced within one year if they are failing. This will affect an estimated 2,000 owners. Replacement will mean installation of a modern private septic system, or a tie-in to a public sewer system, if one is available. Private septic systems can cost from $3,000 to $5,000 for lower-end systems, up to $30,000, or more, for the preferred “innovative/alternative” systems that do a better job of treating wastewater. Cesspools in high-risk areas that pass inspection will still need to be upgraded by 2013.

By Christine Dunn,  The Providence Journal 

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