Community Sewer Systems: State Regulations

A Community Sewer System (CSS) is defined by the state as “any sewerage system serving two or more residences in separate structures” which is either not connected to a municipal sewerage system or which is connected to the sewer system but is managed as a distinct and separately segment of such system. Since it is a system that is not managed directly by the WPCA, the WPCA, in accordance with state law, requires that the system be properly managed and maintained and that a reserve fund be established to insure that adequate funds are available to repair, replace and improve system components as they wear out or become obsolete.

The big idea is that the owner of the community sewerage system, typically a condominium association MUST store away enough to rebuild the entire system at the natural depreciation rate of the system. That is what is meant by the term “actuarial adequacy” below.

What does this mean?

The WPCA rules and regulations require that depreciation be funded at the following rates:

ItemYearsReplacement Cost
(Must Save Each Year)
Pumps, electrical and mechanical equipment156.6%
Structures & other non-mechanical equipment205.0%
Piping and Manholes502.0%

So, by virtue of the WPCA rules and regulations, and consistent with State Statue, a residential condominium association with a community sewerage system must reserve an annual amount of the replacement cost of such system at the scheduled depreciation rate. This is no different from the customary practice of condo associations setting aside reserve funds for siding, roof and other major repairs.

Past and Present

In the past the Brookfield WPCA has actually collected funds to insure that the Authority was not required to expend its own funds to cover any emergency cost of repairing or replacing a community sewerage system. At the same time, however, the Authority required the condominium association or other owner of a community sewerage systems to make any repairs and replacements at their expense. The Brookfield WPCA would use the funds that it collected only in case of emergency.

Currently, however, the Authority has revisited its procedures. It has determined to not collect funds for repairs, replacements and improvements, but rather to require the owners of community sewerage systems to reserve funds for such purposes on an actuarially adequate basis and to report the funds reserved each year. All this is/will be the subject of an agreement with each condo association.

The State Statue that give the WPCA authority to follow this new procedure is pasted in below.

Community Sewerage Systems –  CT State Statue Sec. 7-246f.

(a) Any municipal water pollution control authority may ensure the effective management of a community sewerage system as defined in section 7-245 and not owned by a municipality by requiring that the system be owned and managed as provided in this subsection. The ownership and management of the system shall meet the following requirements:

  • (1) The owners of all properties served by the system shall be members of a property owners’ association which is organized and operated in accordance with chapter 602 and which shall exist as long as any property is served by the system;
  • (2) the association shall have the authority and the responsibility to operate, maintain, repair and improve the system in accordance with all applicable requirements, and in a manner which will prevent pollution of the waters of the state. Such association shall have the power to borrow money to finance such activities, and to defray the cost of such activities by levying assessments against the properties served by the system. Any such unpaid assessment shall constitute a lien upon the property against which such assessment was levied. Each such lien may be continued, recorded and released in the manner provided by the general statutes for continuing, recording and releasing property tax liens, and such lien may be foreclosed in the same manner as a lien for property taxes, but shall not be construed to have any greater priority than any ordinary lien upon such property;
  • (3) all of the properties to be served by the system, and all other land upon which is located any part of the system, shall be owned in fee or shall be subject to a long-term leasehold or to a system of perpetual easements, held by the association or by the members thereof. Such title or easements shall be sufficient to allow such properties to be served by the system and to allow the association to operate, maintain, repair and improve the system as required under subdivision (2) of this subsection;
  • (4) such association shall assure the availability of funds that are of actuarial adequacy [emphasis ours] for the continued operation, maintenance, repair and improvement of the system without pollution of the waters of the state, and
  • (5) prior to any discharge to the system, the following requirements shall be met:
    • (A) The association shall be created and a document or documents establishing its duties and powers as provided in this section shall be filed on the land records of the municipality in which the system and properties to be served thereby are located;
    • (B) the system shall be owned by the association as provided in this section and rights of a mortgagee or similar interest in the system shall be subordinated to the ownership of association;
    • (C) the association shall obtain a permit to discharge as provided by section 22a-430, and
    • (D) the association shall certify to the water pollution control authority and the building official of the municipality that a permit to discharge has been obtained.

(b) If the association owning a community sewerage system fails to take any action in accordance with requirements of subsection (a) of this section, the municipal water pollution control authority may take any such action on behalf of the association or any other action within the powers granted to such authority which is necessary to ensure the effective operation of the system and to prevent pollution of the waters of the state. For the purposes of this section, the authority shall have the right to enter upon the properties and land subject to subdivision (3) of subsection (a) of this section. Except where delay would result in pollution of the waters of the state, no such action shall be taken unless the association has been given written notice ten days prior to any such proposed action, and has been afforded an opportunity to be heard on such proposed action. A municipal water pollution control authority may recover the cost of taking any action pursuant to this subsection by levying assessments, in the manner described in section 7-249, or charges, in the manner described in section 7-255, against the properties served by the system. Control over the operation, maintenance, repair and improvement of the system shall be returned to the association, or to a successor thereto, upon provision to the municipal water pollution control authority of adequate assurances that the requirements of subsection (a) of this section will be met, providing that nothing contained in this subsection shall limit the powers conferred on municipal water pollution control authorities by section 7-247. Should the system be designed or intended to serve additional properties that subsequently are to be subject to subsection (a) of this section, such properties and the owner or owners thereof shall be subject to the provisions of this section in the same manner as were the properties held by the association or the members thereof.

(c) Certification by a municipal water pollution control authority to the Commissioner of Environmental Protection, in a form satisfactory to the commissioner, that it will require a community sewerage system not owned by the municipality to be owned and managed in accordance with the provisions of subsections (a) and (b) of this section shall be sufficient for the municipal water pollution control authority to establish that it will ensure effective management of such system as required by subsection (b) of section 7-246, provided that nothing contained in this section shall limit the power and duties conferred on the Commissioner of Environmental Protection by sections 22a-427 to 22a-438, inclusive.