The Putnam County Department of Health is made of several divisions all working towards improving and protecting the health of the community.Ā 

Environmental Health Services

Environmental Health Services promotes a clean and healthy environment by enforcing New York State and Putnam County Sanitary Codes, applicable laws, administrative rules, and regulations. This includes monitoring and regulating food service establishments and other public facilities. Regulations are enforced to ensure rabies control, lead poisoning prevention, and clean indoor air. Environmental quality is protected by health department staff as they monitor water quality, public water systems, sewage treatment plants, sewage disposal systems, solid waste facilities; approve realty subdivision plans and construction; provide environmental risk assessments; and rapidly respond to environmental emergencies.

Information for Residents

Environmental health services staff monitor certain establishments and enforce regulations to protect the health of Putnam County. From sampling water and inspecting restaurants and childrens camps, to performing home assessments for lead exposure, Department of Health staff strive to keep residents healthy by ensuring safe water, food, indoor air, and surroundings to limit injury and disease.

House Additions

Any renovation which involves a modification of an existing floor plan or any additions which increase the square footage of living area require approval by the Putnam County Health Department prior to the issuance of a building permit.

Part of all Health Department approvals for Subsurface Sewage Treatment Systems (SSTS) is the calculation of the potential occupancy of the residence. This is determined by the number of potential bedrooms within the structure. Floor plans for renovations or additions must be reviewed to ensure the total number of potential bedrooms are the same as the original certificate of occupancy.

If the number of potential bedrooms will increase, the Subsurface Sewage Treatment System must be designed by a professional engineer or registered architect, meeting all present code requirements. The plans must be reviewed and approved prior to the issuance of a building a permit.

Any room which could potentially be used as a bedroom may be considered a bedroom by the Department. For example, an office, den, computer room, exercise room and possibly a family room may be considered potential bedrooms. The location of the proposed room is a major factor in this consideration. For example, an office on a second story with other bedrooms will always be considered a potential bedroom.

No. The Department will review non-professional sketches of the proposed floor plans.

Yes. The fee for Health Department review is $100.

In some cases, yes. If there is a full bath in the basement area, any room located in this area may be considered a potential bedroom. Traditionally, open recreational rooms in basement areas are not considered potential bedrooms.

In most cases, you will be required to hire a professional engineer to design a Subsurface Sewage Treatment System (SSTS). The addition of an accessory apartment is considered to be a ā€œchange in useā€, as well as an increase in potential occupancy. The addition of a second kitchen and possibly an additional washing machine may increase the potential flow to the existing septic system.

Applications are available at the Putnam County Health Department, 1 Geneva Road, Brewster, New York 10509. Call (845) 808-1390. You may also pick up an application at the individual Town Building Departments. Generally, review can be completed in less than one week.

New Construction

Hire a New York State licensed Professional Engineer. They can be found in the yellow pages under:

  • Engineers, Professional
  • Engineers, Consulting
  • Engineers, Civil
  • Engineers, Sanitary

Registered Architects and Land Surveyors with an ā€œNā€ exemption may also design septic systems. Your engineer will complete a design for your septic system and well location onto a blueprint. The design will be based on the size of your house (number of bedrooms), the topography of the land, the neighboring wells and septic systems, and the type of soil on the lot (including depth to rock or groundwater).

This depends on the complexity of the project and may take months. However, initial review of the submitted plans is undertaken within two to four weeks.

Your design professional, survey, testing and construction will also cost money.

Putnam County Health Department approved construction permits are valid for two (2) years from the date of issuance and can be renewed via a construction permit renewal application. Subdivision approvals are valid for five (5) years from the date of approval and can also be renewed.

Natural and manmade problems can invalidate a map. For example, removing (mining) the soil from the proposed septic area invalidates the map since the soils which the approval was based upon are no longer there. Changes in drainage can cause a lot to be wetter now than when the approval was granted, thereby resulting in ground and surface water conditions possibly not being met. Mistakes were made while drafting the plans. Misrepresentation and/or errors on a map invalidate the approval. Check to see that the map has been legally filed with the County Clerkā€™s Office. Even though a map may be signed by the Putnam County Department of Health, it is not valid until it is filed.

The County Health Department utilizes the standards contained in 10 NYCRR Part 75, including Appendices 75-A and 75-B for the design of individual wastewater treatment systems and individual drilled wells. The Health Department has also developed policy and procedure documents for individual single-family residences (Bulletin S-19), realty subdivision (Bulletin RS-21) and commercial development (Bulletin CS-31) projects.

Under the ā€œDelegation Agreement between the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the Putnam County Health Departmentā€, all applications for SSTS will be forwarded to the Health Department. The Health Department will determine if the proposed project is delegated to the County or is a ā€œjointā€ review between the County and the DEP, as defined in the Agreement. The applicantā€™s engineer will only have to deal with one agency, the Health Department, during the review process, and only one approval will be issued by the Health Department on behalf of both agencies.

Well Water

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.

All private and municipal water companies that serve five or more homes are required to conduct all testing required by Subpart 5-1 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.

The majority of wells in Putnam County are deep rock wells. Salts from the 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.

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. Donā€™t be concerned unless the pressure is less than adequate.

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 chlorine 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.

The ā€œrotten eggā€ 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 Repairs

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?

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 1 Geneva Road, Brewster, New York 10509 or by calling (845) 808-1390.

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.

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.

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).

If a separate drywell exists, it may be repaired or replaced by obtaining a permit from this Department.

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.

Yes. A fee of $150.00 is required in the form of a bank check or certified check. No personal checks or cash please.

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.

Information for Businesses & Organizations

Environmental Health Services implements New York State and Putnam County Sanitary Codes, applicable laws, administrative rules, and regulations through education and enforcement. Ensuring safe food service establishments, certain public facilities, waste haulers, sewage treatment and disposal systems, and construction by providing education and guidance is the goal of Environmental Health Services staff.

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