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Update on Money Island septic systems

No contamination problems have been recorded since the first few days after Sandy. That one-time high bacteria level test was not likely the result of any local properties but rather the result of up-river flooding of more populated areas.

revised April 2014 - A proposal to inspect, repair or replace some of Money Island's aging sewer facilities was discussed at the August 11, 2013 Money Island community meeting. It was a voluntary proposal aimed at addressing concerns of the Cumberland County Board of Health. It was up to each individual owner as to whether they would participate. The plan hit a snag shortly afterward when owners realized that the cost of a new septic holding tank was actually less than the price the contractor was asking to inspect an older system. Meanwhile, Cumberland County Freeholders and Downe Township push forward for a public wastewater system. It could be years before we actually see results of that effort.

The Money Island Marina was approved for participation in a state program that provides reimbursement for part of the cost of installing a boat pump-out system. The NJDEP revised its CAFRA rules following Sandy to allow marinas to more easily repair their waste water and pump out facilities.

In the meanwhile, the remaining problem issue is that the Cumberland County Board of Health reports that it has no record of permits for the majority of the island's existing septic systems, and concludes, therefore, that they must be unpermitted and illegal. A few of Money Island's long time residents object saying they paid for and obtained the appropriate permits when their houses were built in the 1960s and 1970s or had seen evidence of the permit. At least one resident accused of having an illegal system says that she has records in storage to prove that it was installed legally. But the majority of Money Island property owners who purchased a property after the septic was installed are caught in the middle with no evidence to support the legality of their system. They have a system that works fine as intended, but no paperwork about its installation.

All parties continue to emphasize that Money Island does not have a problem with water contamination caused septic contamination. Water is tested on a regular schedule by the State of New Jersey and private water test companies for fecal bacteria. All results show acceptable levels of bacteria. The last unacceptable test result was taken in the week after Sandy, and that bacteria level was likely throughout the entire bay from upstream waters, having nothing to do with Money Island. Even then, water returned to normal healthy level of bacteria within 10 days and has been fine since then. 

As it stands now in early 2014, the Cumberland County Department of Health may hold up permits for owners who need to make Sandy repairs but several residents have heard informally that the department will not actively prosecute property owners who have a functional septic system and believe that it was legally installed. While this may not be a legally binding solution, it does provide some relief to those residents who were threatened with possible eviction last fall.

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