Perspective: Let's not Throw the Baby Out with the Toilet Water


Our lead article in this issue takes a look at on-site wastewater treatment. Several alternative approaches that provide better groundwater protection are discussed. But our quest for improved wastewater treatment, especially on sites with poor soils, raises an important concern. If we can design self-contained wastewater treatment systems that do not introduce pollutants into groundwater—and we can—then we need to address the broader issue of development in fragile natural areas.

The inability to put in septic systems has been used to limit growth in many rural areas. In fact, many local governments without coherent growth-management guidelines have relied solely on state or federal septic regulations as a means of controlling development. If these limitations disappear, how will growth be managed?

The answer should lie in good, proactive planning by municipalities. Planning commissions and planning departments need to be aware that previously undevelopable land may soon become developable because of improved septic systems. And they need to begin planning for that transition.

So this is a plea for readers not already involved with town or municipal planning to get involved. I’ve served on my local Planning Commission in Dummerston, Vermont, for about five years now, and I’ve found that you really can make a difference.

Published March 1, 1994

(1994, March 1). Perspective: Let's not Throw the Baby Out with the Toilet Water. Retrieved from https://www.buildinggreen.com/op-ed/perspective-lets-not-throw-baby-out-toilet-water

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