To: Bear Island Conservation Association
From: John R. Benham
Subject: Septic Systems
As residents of a place such as Bear Island, we all face certain difficulties when it is time to repair or replace septic systems.
Septic systems traditionally end up being costly for several reasons:
1. The difficulty getting large equipment on the island, not to mention the occasional
“Collateral damage” inflicted on surrounding vegetation.
2. The high cost of transporting large volumes of aggregate by barge and truck;
sometimes requiring a new access road.
3. Large areas sometimes need to be cleared to accommodate the leach bed size
determined by NHDES, as well as distance from lake requirements of the town of Meredith.
4. The product of traditional septic systems, effluent, still must leach into a soil which
appears to be mostly “hardpan,” and is not very porous.
Technology to the rescue!
There exist several acceptable, innovative technologies for septic system use which are approved by the State of NH, and in most cases result in leach field size reduction, some dramatically.
These reduced size fields need far less aggregate, or sand, smaller machinery, less clearing and less time to build. They do require some additional equipment, since you are adding another step to produce a much clearer liquid. All in all, though, I think it is fair to say that average disposal system would be ˝ or less, than a traditional system.
While it is so difficult to get access to large machinery, large quantities of proper aggregate, open land, and since low impact is what we all want, these alternative systems should be considered for any new or replacement system on the island. When homeowners are talking to a septic designer, which is required, alternative systems should be discussed. If the designer is unwilling or uninterested, the homeowner should probably talk to another designer.
State of NH, DES Fact Sheet SSB-12-2001 lists those systems approved by the State can be obtained by contacting the DES (Robert Minicucoi) at 603-271-2941 or contact:
Finally, if I can be of any help to you, please feel free to call me during working hours at 603-934-7100, ask for John, Sr.
John R. Benham sys1\das\JRB\BearIlnd\5