Subsurface Wastewater Program Policies
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POLICY STATEMENT – 144 CMR 241
Maine Subsurface Wastewater Disposal Rules
Policy Regarding Subsurface Wastewater Disposal Systems for Home Occupations: Home Food Manufacturing of Shellfish Products
Effective Date: January 12, 1999
A significant number of households in coastal and adjacent areas of Washington County, Hancock County, and the area between Merrymeeting Bay and Penobscot Bay, engage in the practice of processing crab meat as a means of income. The majority of these are operated as home occupations, wherein the business is conducted in a single family dwelling unit by one or more members of the family residing in the dwelling. The process generally consists of boiling the crabs, separating the meat from the cooked crabs, and processing/storing the crab meat for distribution.
Recent changes to food safety regulations, both at the State level (1) and the Federal level (2) require that certain minimum standards of safety and sanitation must be maintained in any site for home food manufacturing of shellfish products. It is problematic, often impossible, for many of these home occupations to conform to these new food safety regulations with existing facilities. To accommodate continuation of the home occupations and income generation, it is anticipated that purpose built processing trailers will be used at locations where the food safety regulations can not be reasonably accommodated.
The principle increase in wastewater from a crab meat processing home occupation would result from cooking water for the crabs, rinse water for the processed meat, and wash water for utensils and hands. While this wastewater might be expected to be somewhat high in organic loading (3, 4), it is also likely to be of low volume; on the order of 25 gallons per day (gpd) or less. (It is assumed that these flows would be similar in strength to restaurant sink waste, since no data were found specifically for crab meat processing.)
While food safety regulations are necessary to protect the health of the general public, individuals should not be discouraged or prevented from conducting a home occupation as long as the public health is protected.
The Division is persuaded that a home occupation for crab meat processing, whether conducted in a single family dwelling or in a structure accessory to a single family dwelling, does not represent a significant increase in wastewater generation or pose a significant threat to the proper operation of an otherwise adequately functioning onsite sewage disposal system.
Therefore, the Division recommends that home occupations for crab meat processing be allowed to utilize existing, adequately functioning onsite sewage disposal systems provided that the following criteria are met:
1. The home occupation for crab meat processing is a bona fide home occupation conducted in a single family dwelling unit by one or more members of the family residing in the dwelling; or conducted in a structure accessory to such dwelling, including purpose built processing trailers, by one or more members of the family residing in the dwelling,
2. In the event that a purpose built processing trailer is used on a site, the use of that trailer shall be only for home food processing; and shall not change to any other commercial or retail use whatsoever unless an onsite sewage disposal system adequate for such change in use is installed, and
3. Solids shall be filtered from the wastewater flow to the greatest practical extent.
In the event that the existing onsite sewage disposal system is inadequate for the proposed increase; or does not meet the Subsurface Wastewater Disposal Rules (Rules) or can not reasonably be expected to meet the Rules, the home occupation for crab meat processing must be connected to a system meeting the Rules as determined by a licensed Site Evaluator. Such conforming system may include, but need not be limited to, expansion of an otherwise conforming existing system, a separated grey water system dedicated to the proposal, or an onsite holding tank. Any such system shall be designed to accommodate at least 50 gpd.
James A. Jacobsen, Manager
Wastewater and Plumbing Control Program
1. CMR 343 and CMR 345; Maine Department of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Resources
2. Appendix 7, Part 123, Seafood HACCP Regulation
3. Management of Small Waste Flows, Appendix A, EPA-600/2-78-173; various tables
4. EPA Design Manual, Onsite Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Systems, Section 4.3
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