7. Real Estate Property Transfers

The WPA is charged with conducting all onsite wastewater treatment system real estate property transfer and re-financing inspections in Schuyler County. The inspections are required by law, if requested or required by any interested party (buyer, seller, realtor, attorney or lending institution) and must be conducted by the WPA (see Watershed Protection Law Section J).

Nearly all property transfers will require an inspection (usually as a requirement of the lending institution or the buyer) and because the WPA has records of most OWTS in the County, it is recommended that the listing agent or current owner contact the WPA prior to or in conjunction with listing a home on the market.

The preferred method of contact would be to complete the “Real Estate Property Transfer or Refinancing Inspection Request Form” and the “Acceptance of Conditions Form” and fax or email the completed forms to the WPA. A WPA Inspector will then call the contact at the listed phone number at their earliest possible convenience, usually the same day or following morning.

In addition to the Wastewater Treatment System Inspections, the WPA also provides water quality sampling services, water flow test and radon in air or water testing. The fees are determined using the composite fee schedule.

Typical sequence* for a real estate property transfer inspection request:
  • Owner, or a representative of the owner, completes and returns the “Real Estate Property Transfer or Refinancing Inspection Request Form” and the “Acceptance of Conditions Form”, or calls the WPA with all the necessary information.
  • Review available information on file with WPA and schedule an appointment with a WPA Inspector.
  • Conduct initial inspection of property. Initial inspection typically consists of administering a dye test, visual inspection of all indoor plumbing fixtures, and if requested collecting a water sample and conducting a flow test.
  • Schedule a licensed Septic Hauler to meet with a WPA inspector on site to pump the septic tank minimum 2 days following initial inspection. WPA inspector must witness the tank pumping.
  • WPA inspector conducts follow-up inspection, witnessing the septic tank pumping and further assesses the absorption component.
  • Schuyler WPA shall receive payment for all services prior to issuing any reports, if possible.
  • Upon completion of inspection and receiving payment, a “Certificate of Compliance” may be issued. Otherwise, a “Compliance Agreement” shall be established and agreed upon by all interested parties to bring the OWTS into compliance per the standards of the WPA.
*typical sequence is highly variable and modifications may be required by the WPA for any number of situations, such as, but not limited to, property currently being vacant, known system deficiencies, utilization of seepage pits, payment schedule etc. See additional information below.

Additional Real Estate Property Transfer Information
For the purposes of Real Estate Property Transfer OWTS Inspection, the WPA “Certificate of Compliance” implies that the system appears to be in sound working order at the time of the inspection. The “Certificate of Compliance” should in no way describe or imply the condition, integrity, construction or continued satisfactory use of any component(s) of the wastewater system. Any increase in wastewater generation may cause system failure.

An accurate and useful onsite wastewater treatment system inspection is only possible under normal hydraulic loading conditions. Therefore for properties which are unoccupied at the time of inspection, it is recommended that an interest bearing escrow account be established for an agreed upon estimated cost for a potential replacement/repair system (typically $5,000 to $10,000). Following re-occupancy (at a time period determined by the WPA), the inspection shall be conducted and a “Certificate of Compliance” or a “Compliance Agreement” shall be issued. Furthermore, this process may need to be implemented if the property is occupied but the OWTS is covered by a blanket of snow preventing an accurate visible inspection of the absorption/filtration area.

The septic tank must be within 250 gallons of the minimum state standards and must be structurally sound. For instance, the minimum tank size for a 3 bedroom home is 1000 gallons. If the 3 bedroom home being inspected currently has a 500 gallon tank, additional tank volume is required (adding in sequence or installing new) and will be included in the “Compliance Agreement.” Any cracks, leaks, missing baffles, corroded steel septic tanks or other tank integrity issues must be corrected as per the “Compliance Agreement.”

For properties which utilize a seepage pit, the seepage pit must be located, uncovered and available for inspection by the WPA, ideally during the second inspection visit.

Sand filter systems with a direct surface discharge line shall require enhancements at the discretion of the WPA Inspector and shall be included in the “Compliance Agreement.” For these situations, the “Compliance Agreement” and associated design will incorporate existing system components when at all possible, and shall attempt a design with the least amount of financial expenditure possible.

All necessary permits (as required by the “Compliance Agreement”) and permit fees shall be paid in full prior to the issuance of said permits, and shall follow the same procedures and fees as all other WPA activities.

The flow test utilized by the WPA consists of establishing a constant flow of 5 gpm for an interval of 30 minutes (or an amount and duration agreed upon by the parties involved). If this flow is not achieved, the WPA will attempt to gauge that flow which can be sustained for a 30 minute interval by the existing water supply, and will make the results known to any interested party. No indication of actual well yield is implied with this reporting by the WPA.

Additional Pertinent Sections:
Replacing an onsite wastewater treatment system for an existing home
Performing a repair to an existing onsite wastewater treatment system

Water Quality Sampling