Public Water Supply
Reviews operations and provides surveillance of 95 community water systems serving 45% of the County population. Responds to problems such as low pressure and outages and performs special surveys to assure compliance with state codes.
- Should I test my well water to make sure it is okay?
If you are in a residential neighborhood with no source of contamination within 100 feet of your well, you should probably only need to test for bacteria. Especially shallow wells (less than 100 feet deep) may be affected by seasonal changes and may be prone to bacterial contamination. Twice a year, coliform bacteria should be checked. Lists of local laboratories are available by calling (845) 808-1390. If you have concerns about nearby sources of contamination that may affect your well, contact the Putnam County Health Department.
- If I have water supplied by a private company or the Town, how can I be sure if it meets standards?
All private and municipal water companies that serve five or more homes are required to conduct all testing required by Part 5 of the New York State Sanitary Code. This includes bacteria, volatile organic compounds, metals and inorganics, pesticides, radiological parameters, lead and copper, etc. The County Health Department monitors results and requires corrective action and notifications.
- What is in my water that makes all my pots and pans powdery?
The majority of wells in Putnam County are deep rock wells. Minerals in the rock which are not harmful to drink may leave a film or powdery deposits on dishes and pots. These are salts that form from the minerals in the rock. Water softeners may help solve this problem, but there are no guarantees.
- Why does my water look white or milky?
If you pour a glass of water and it looks white or sudsy, let it sit a few minutes. The white color will gradually disappear, leaving clear water. Sometimes too much air is dissolved into the water as it leaves your pressure tank. If you get your water from a water supplier, an excessive amount of air may be added by booster pumps in the system. Don’t be concerned unless the pressure is less than adequate.
- What do I do if I find that I have bacteria in my well water?
Most cases of bacterial contamination are from surface runoff getting into the well because of a broken sanitary seal, pit with no seal, broken casing, etc. If the well construction is adequate and bacterial contamination still persists, the well should be disinfected with clorine using a procedure available at the County Health Department. Seasonal variations in the groundwater table may require that wells be disinfected annually. A permanent method of disinfection that can be employed if bacteria problems persist is the installation of an ultraviolet light.
- Why does my well water smell like rotten eggs?
The “rotten egg” smell of sulfur can be caused by two sources. The most common is iron bacteria which thrive in the iron-rich well water, giving off sulfur dioxide. This problem can be solved by disinfecting your well using the procedure available at the County Health Department. The less common source for sulfur smell in water is from wells that are drilled into sulfur deposits in the rock. This problem can be solved by installing available treatment systems.
Septic System Repairs
- Is Health Department approval required for the repair or replacement of an existing septic system?
The repair or replacement of any component of a Subsurface Sewage Treatment System (SSTS) requires prior approval by the Putnam County Health Department. This includes septic tanks, pump chambers, absorption trences, drywells, etc.
- What is required to obtain approval for a repair to an existing septic system?
A repair permit must be filed for and approved by the Putnam County Health Department. Applications are available by contacting the Putnam County Health Department at 4 Geneva Road, Brewster, New York 10509 or by calling (845) 808-1390.
- Is Health Department approval required to routinely have my septic tank pumped out?
No. Routine pumping of a septic tank, snaking or cleaning of existing sewer lines, and replacement of sewage pumps is considered routine maintenance and does not require prior approval by the Department. All pumping services must be registered with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Putnam County Health Department, and Putnam County Department of Consumer Affairs. All service or replacement of existing plumbing must be performed by a licensed plumber.
- When must I hire a professional engineer to design and supervise the installation of a Subsurface Sewage Treatment System (SSTS)?
A professional design is required for a SSTS for the following:
- New construction on vacant land.
- Replacement or repair of Sewage Treatment System serving commercial buildings.
- An increase in the potential occupancy of a residence, i.e. adding a bedroom or adding an accessory apartment.
- Relocating a SSTS to a different area of the parcel.
- Expanding a Sewage Treatment System beyond the area of the existing septic system.
- A professional engineer may also be required for systems that have a history of several failures.
- Can the discharge from a washing machine or slop sink be discharged into a storm drain on the surface of the ground or in an area away from the existing septic system?
No. The discharge from any indoor plumbing fixture, including showers, sinks and washing machines is considered sewage, and must be discharged only into an approved septic system (SSTS).
- Are separate drywells for washing machines legal?
If a separate drywell exists, it may be repaired or replaced by obtaining a permit from this Department.
- Can I repair my own septic system?
If the homeowner has the experience and equipment to repair a Subsurface Sewage Treatment System, this Department will issue repair permits to the owner of the property. If a contractor is hired, he must obtain the necessary permits and be registered with both the Putnam County Health Department and the Putnam County Department of Consumer Affairs.
- Is there any fee for obtaining a repair permit from the Health Department?
Yes. A fee of $150.00 is required in the form of a bank check or certified check. No personal checks or cash please.
- Is a repair permit the same as Board of Health Approval (BOHA)?
No. BOHA infers that the Sewage Treatment System meets all present code requirements. A repair permit is issued for the repair or replacement of existing components of an existing septic system. These components may or may not meet present code requirements.