Site Conditions and Your System

The conventional septic tank/leach field system used for sewage treatment relies on primary settling, microbial digestion, and secondary treatment of effluent through a soil ‘filter.’ The following factors hinder the ability of this system to work properly, and can be common to the 1000 Islands region.

Soil Conditions

  • Dense soil with clay may prevent percolation, causing the leach field to back up into the septic tank
  • Excessively wet soil (seasonal flooding or high water table) may allow septic tank effluent to flow directly to river or groundwater without secondary treatment
  • Sand, gravel or cobble soil may drain too fast to purify the effluent, potentially contaminating adjoining water bodies or ground- water

Geology and Geography

  • Shallow bedrock will cause problems in positioning the septic tank and leach field, or may cause the effluent to pool on the surface soil, leading to potential health risks
  • Steep slopes can cause the effluent to run out and over the ground surface instead of percolating into the soil
  • Lots that are too small may not meet minimum setback distance requirements of the state or provincial regulatory agencies (see diagrams, next pages), or have adequate area for an acceptable leach field. Generally, a leach field should allow 60-166 feet of trench length per bedroom depending on soil conditions and use; more specific information is available in local town requirements or from the New York State Department of Health.
  • Lots that do not maintain the recommended separation distance between leach field and wells or the river may be contaminating the water, rendering its use for drinking, bathing and recreation questionable.

Percolation Requirements A minimum of four feet of soil above groundwater, bedrock or other impermeable substrate is required for effluent percolation, two feet minimum from the bottom of the leach trench to bedrock, seasonally high groundwater or impermeable layer (clay). The soil percolation rate is the time in minutes needed for the soil to absorb one inch of water. The preferred “percrate” is between one and 60 minutes, but more specific information is available from the New York State Department of Health or local health or zoning officer. If these requirements are not met by the site’s natural conditions, septic tank and leach field installation may involve considerable costs.

New York State Minimum Distance Requirements

New York State Minimum Distance Requirements

* Your sewage system must be a minimum of 100’ from any bordering neighbor’s well

About Us

Founded in 1978, Save The River is a non-profit, member-supported environmental organization whose mission is to restore, preserve and protect the ecological integrity of the Upper St. Lawrence River through advocacy, education and research. Since 2004 Save The River has been a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance as the Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper.

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The River

The St. Lawrence River is one of the largest Rivers in the world and a magnificent place to live, work and play. Save The River has been working for more than 35 years to protect the River for current and future generations.

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Over half of Save The River's budget comes from individual memberships and contributions. Supporting us with an annual membership donation will keep our River advocacy, education and research programs going strong.

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Save The River was designated the Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper and is a member of the international Waterkeeper Alliance. The Waterkeeper Alliance is the world’s fastest growing environmental movement, with more than 200 local Waterkeepers patrolling rivers, lakes and coastal waterways on 6 continents.

Photos from around the River

Off to the races by Pam Quimby  Resting by Pam Quimby  On the Rocks by Nick Apel  Classic Sunset by Barb Hupp  TI Park Library by Meg Kerr  Fall by Carrie Kerr  Girls by Juliane Bauer  Winter Navigation by Sherman Ward  Off on the River by Jenni Werndorf  A Seaway View by Devon Colby 
 Pictures from our Flickr photostream

409 Riverside Drive
Clayton, NY 13624

(315) 686-2010


© Save The River 2014