HARVARD -- A particularly pricey septic system was brought to the Board of Health with questions about possible cost-cutting measures including a composting toilet and a smaller tank.

Residents of 52 Massachusetts Avenue, Lori and Jeff Granville, purchased their 1,150-square-foot property for $175,000 and are facing having to pay for a septic system estimated around $60,000, including labor and engineering.

"I would think that Title 5 requirements would take into account affordability," Lori Granvile said. "We certainly aren't going to be having a family of four or five in this home."

They argued that the septic plan that is currently in place is for a home accommodating four to five people. It was based on a previous plan made by the prior owners who wanted to market the property as one that could be added onto.

Mr. and Mrs. Granville plan to update the existing structure that hosts one bathroom, one bedroom and two other small rooms with ceilings under seven feet high.

The Granvilles purchased the property for a place for their son to reside during and after college.

Lori Granville suggested installing a composting toilet and gray water filtration system, reduce the size of the septic tank and leaching field, reduce the depth to groundwater from four feet to two feet, and get a deed restriction for the property to only list it as a two-bedroom home.

"We need to try to find a way to not make this cost $60,000 on a $175,000 property," Lori Granville said.


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The board suggested the Granvilles draw up a new plan and resubmit it to them for approval. Lori Granville asked if her son may occupy the space if there isn't any water usage.

"If you can get the plans redrawn and install the septic and pump, we can qualify this as a tight tank until we get the rest of the system installed and you can occupy the space," Chairman Tom Philippou said.

The couple plans to submit a plan for a different septic system to the Board of Health at a later date.

Septic repair loans

Members also discussed the Community Septic Management Program that financially assists homeowners with failed septic systems. With 0 percent interest for up to 20 years, communities may borrow money from the Massachusetts Water Pollution Abatement Trust, after approval from Town Meeting. The cost of the betterment may be paid over time, or in the next five to 20 years. Those interested may contact the Board of Health for further information.