10. Use of a Holding Tank, Composting Toilet or Sanitary Privy (i.e.”outhouse”)

The use of a holding tank is never acceptable for new construction. A holding tank may only be utilized in lieu of establishing an acceptable replacement wastewater treatment system for an existing permanent structure. The definition of an acceptable replacement wastewater treatment system shall be determined by the WPA following a site evaluation, and shall take into account all available information including existing and anticipated water usage, existing infrastructure (such as dwelling, roadways, water wells, etc), environmental limitations (soil, surface and ground water) and available financial resources.

Additionally, the installation of a holding tank is permissible for non-permanent/transient structures, such as an RV unit. For non-permanent/transient structures utilizing a holding tank, the owner must be able to show proof of NYS DMV registration on an annual basis. Proper abandonment of the holding tank requires notification to the WPA and must be filled with clean fill material within ten days.

In all situations, the installation of a holding tank requires a permit from the WPA, must be watertight, must meet certain minimum volume requirements, must have an audio and visual high water alarm and must, if possible, meet all other minimum separation distances (see Watershed Protection Law Article II, Section N here). Contact the WPA for more information. Additional restrictions may apply. The use of a composting toilet is allowable in Schuyler County provided it meet the following conditions:
  • Approval granted by WPA
  • Meet the minimum standards in Appendix 75-A for composters
  • Unit has met NSF Standard 41 or equivalent
  • Installed according to manufacturers recommendations
  • Access Is made available to the WPA for inspections upon request
Additionally, the use of a composting toilet does not eliminate the need for disposal and treatment of grey water (i.e. wash water from sinks, dishwashers and washing machines). Grey water systems shall be designed according to Appendix 75-A and shall be designed upon a flow of 75 gpd per bedroom while meeting all other requirements of Appendix 75-A and the Schuyler County Watershed Protection Law.

The use of a sanitary privy (ie “outhouse”) is only acceptable for structures or dwellings occasionally inhabited (such as a seasonal hunting camp) and only if the structure has no electricity and no water under pressure. Additionally, the construction of the sanitary privy must be sighted and approved by the WPA, and must be water tight (often referred to as a vault privy). An evaluation must be conducted with the owner and a WPA Inspector, a construction permit must be issued and meet all minimum separation distances as described previously. Any sanitary privy shall be constructed with vermin and insect protection. At the point that electricity and water are made available to said structure, the sanitary privy shall be properly abandoned and a WPA approved Onsite Wastewater Treatment System shall be installed.