Wednesday December 26, 2012

LEE -- Property owners in Lee, Lenox and Stockbridge will find it a bit easier installing a new well in 2013, according to local health officials.

As of Jan. 1, the Tri-Town Health Department, which serves the three towns, is implementing revised, more user-friendly regulations for home and business owners who rely on wells for drinking water.

The most significant change is allowing wells within 50 feet of a septic tank and at least 100 feet from a septic field, according to Tri-Town’s health director, James J. Wilusz. The current regulations keep wells from septic tanks and fields, 100 and 150 feet respectively.

"If someone has a failed septic, it’s difficult to upgrade it under the current regulations, especially if a well is nearby," Wilusz said.

"This is definitely going to be a big help to homeowners," added Leslie Daley of Lee, chairwoman of the Tri-Town Board of Health.

Nearly 35 percent of homes and businesses in the three towns have either wells, septic systems or both.

The board, comprised of the three-member boards of health in Lee, Lenox and Stockbridge, adopted the new well regulations earlier this month.

Tri-Town officials said the revised health codes mirror the current state regulations, enacted after the original local ones were instituted nearly 20 years ago.

"We have more scientific data regarding wells and septic systems than when we first did the regulations," Wilusz said. "That’s why it made sense to redo ours now and make them consistent with the state’s."

Other revisions include expanded definitions of what materials, construction techniques and standards can be used in installing wells.

In addition, irrigation and geothermal wells are among the other types of wells governed by the updated local regulations.

"Geothermal wells are becoming a hot topic," Wilusz said. "In most cases they are used for heating, but can be used for drinking water."

Geothermal wells generally consist of water pumped from a large underground aquifer that activates a heat pump. After the water circulates through the system, it’s returned to the aquifer well below the surface.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.