| By Lake Hopatcong Foundation: In this week’s installment of our Lake Friendly Living Guide, we share information on alternative septic systems. If your septic system needs to be replaced or updated, there are new technologies for property owners to consider that can help protect Lake Hopatcong.

What is an alternative septic system?

An alternative septic system, which is commonly referred to as a wastewater treatment system, is a system that is different from the traditional style septic system. An alternative system may be required when the site and soil conditions on a property are limiting, or when the wastewater strength is too much for a particular site (i.e. restaurants).


Is special approval needed to install an alternative septic system?

Since 2012, local health departments can approve the use of these new types of technologies in certain applications. CLICK HERE for a complete list of advanced wastewater pretreatment device manufacturers pursuant to N.J.A.C. 7:9A-8.3. Since advanced wastewater treatment and disposal options are highly case-specific, NJ DEP encourages property owners to talk with vendors, manufacturers and their local authorized representatives directly.


Are there environmental benefits for alternative septic systems?

Although information about the environmental benefits for alternative septic systems can vary, NJ DEP has a wealth of information available on these alternate systems HERE.

There are some alternate septic systems which claim to remove phosphorus. Phosphorus has a direct impact on plant and algal growth in our lake – the more phosphorus, the more plants and algae there are in our lake. Even the smallest increase in phosphorus can impact the water quality in our lake.

According to the Lake Hopatcong Restoration Plan prepared by Princeton Hydro in 2006, which is currently being updated, the septic-based phosphorus load represents 52% of the total annual phosphorus load to Lake Hopatcong.

When exploring alternative septic system options, check with your engineering design firm or septic installer to inquire if the proposed system removes phosphorus.


Have alternative septic systems been installed within the Lake Hopatcong watershed?

According to information provided by the Departments of Health in Jefferson Township and Sussex County, various types of alternative septic systems have been installed within Hopatcong Borough and Jefferson Township. Although not a comprehensive list, here are a few manufacturers with alternative septic systems that have been installed within the watershed.


Next up in our Lake-Friendly Living Guide series: Eliminating Pollutants


Previous posts:

  1. Lake-Friendly Living Guide: Stormwater Basics
  2. Lake-Friendly Living Guide: Go Native! Install Vegetative Buffers and Rain Gardens
  3. Lake-Friendly Living Guide: Smart Lawn Care
  4. Lake-Friendly Living Guide: Fertilizers, Phosphorus, and Water Quality
  5. Lake-Friendly Living Guide: Septic Maintenance

On Wednesday, August 21, 2019, the latest NJDEP testing on Lake Hopatcong showed that while levels dropped by 46%, the levels did increase at the State Park. This comes directly after having two positive tests last week and being targeted for opening. So, swimmers at the Hopatcong State Park will need to wait a little longer.

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