§ 130A-291.1. Septage management program; permit fees.
(a) The Department shall establish and administer a septage management program in accordance with the provisions of this section.
(b) For the protection of the public health, the Commission shall adopt rules governing the management of septage. The rules shall include, but are not limited to, criteria for the sanitary management of septage, including standards for the transportation, storage, treatment, and disposal of septage; operator registration and training; the issuance, suspension, and revocation of permits; and procedures for the payment of annual fees.
(c) No septage management firm shall commence or continue operation that does not have a permit issued by the Department. The permit shall be issued only when the septage management firm satisfies all of the requirements of the rules adopted by the Commission. Within 90 days of receiving a complete permit application, the Department shall grant or deny the permit in accordance with G.S. 130A-294(a)(4). A septage management firm that commences operation without first having obtained a permit shall cease to operate until the firm obtains a permit under this section and shall pay an initial annual fee equal to twice the amount of the annual fee that would otherwise be applicable under subsection (e) of this section.
(d) Septage shall be treated and disposed only at a wastewater system that has been approved by the Department under rules adopted by the Commission or at a site that is permitted by the Department under this section. A permit shall be issued only if the site satisfies all of the requirements of the rules adopted by the Commission.
(e) A septage management firm that operates one pumper truck shall pay an annual fee of five hundred fifty dollars ($550.00) to the Department. A septage management firm that operates two or more pumper trucks shall pay an annual fee of eight hundred dollars ($800.00) to the Department.
(e1) An individual who operates a septage treatment or disposal facility but who does not engage in the business of pumping, transporting, or disposing of septage shall pay an annual fee of two hundred dollars ($200.00).
(e2) A properly completed application for a permit and the annual fee under this section are due by December 15 of each year. The Department shall mail a notice of the annual fees to each permitted septage management firm and each individual who operates a septage treatment or disposal facility prior to October 1 of each calendar year. A late fee in the amount equal to fifty percent (50%) of the annual permit fee under this section shall be submitted when a properly completed application and annual permit fee are not submitted by January 1 following the October 1 notice. The clear proceeds of civil penalties collected pursuant to this subsection shall be remitted to the Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund in accordance with G.S. 115C-457.2.
(e3) The Septage Management Account is established as a nonreverting account within the Department. Fees collected under this section shall be placed in the Septage Management Account and shall be applied only to the costs of the septage management program.
(e4) Permits for new septage management firm operators and permits for septage management firm operators that have not operated a septage management firm in the 24 months immediately preceding the submittal of an application shall be considered probationary for 12 months. The Department may revoke any probationary permit of a firm or an individual that violates any provision of this section, G.S. 130A-291.2, G.S. 130A-291.3, or any rule adopted under these sections. If the Department revokes a probationary permit issued to a firm or individual, the Department shall not issue another permit to that firm or individual, and the firm or individual may not engage in any septage management activity for a period of 12 months. In the event of a change in ownership or corporate structure, the permit shall be amended to reflect the change in ownership, corporate structure, and contact information upon Department approval of the application for permit amendment.
(e5) The Department shall provide technical and regulatory assistance to permit applicants and permit holders. Assistance may include, but is not limited to, taking soil samples on proposed and permitted septage land application sites and providing required training to permit applicants and permit holders.
(f) All wastewater systems designed to discharge effluent to the surface waters may accept, treat, and dispose septage from permitted septage management firms, unless acceptance of the septage would constitute a violation of the permit conditions of the wastewater system. The wastewater system may charge a reasonable fee for acceptance, treatment, and disposal of septage based on a fee schedule that takes into account septage composition and quantity and that is consistent with other charges for use of that system.
(g) Production of a crop in accordance with an approved nutrient management plan on land that is permitted as a septage land application site is a bona fide farm purpose under G.S. 160D-903.
(h) The Department shall inspect each septage land application site at least twice a year and shall inspect the records associated with each septage land application site at least annually. The Department shall inspect each pumper truck used for septage management at least once every two years.
(h1) The annual permit application shall identify the pumper trucks and vehicles to be used by the septage management firm. Pumper trucks and vehicles used in the transportation, containment, or consolidation of liquid septage shall be listed by the septage management firm on its permit and inspected and regulated as vehicles by the Department but shall not be regulated as septage detention facilities. Equipment used in the containment and consolidation of septage shall be regulated as septage detention or treatment sites and require a permit. All pumper trucks and vehicles used by a permitted septage management firm shall meet all federal and State highway laws or have a maximum capacity of no more than 21,000 gallons. A permitted septage management firm shall notify the Department within 10 days of placing a pumper truck or vehicle in service that was not previously included in a permit issued to the firm and shall make the pumper truck or vehicle available for inspection by the Department. A septage management firm is not prohibited from use of a pumper truck or vehicle that meets the requirements of the rules adopted by the Commission prior to inspection by the Department. All pumper trucks and vehicles that are listed on the approved septage management firm's permit may remain loaded or partially loaded for no more than seven days. All pumper trucks and vehicles used in the transportation, containment, or consolidation of septage that are listed on the approved septage management firm's permit shall be located on the premises of a septage management facility or on the property of another party by legal agreement of the septage management firm and the property owner.
(i) The Department shall approve innovative or alternative septage treatment or storage methods that are demonstrated to protect the public health and the environment.
(j) Septage generated by the operation of a wastewater system permitted under Article 11 of this Chapter may be managed as provided in this section and may be land applied at a septage land application site permitted under this section. (1987 (Reg. Sess., 1988), c. 1058, s. 2; 1991 (Reg. Sess., 1992), c. 1039, s. 8; 1993, c. 173, s. 4; 2001-505, s. 1.1; 2005-276, s. 6.37(t); 2006-255, s. 5.1(a); 2012-200, s. 15; 2014-122, s. 11(b); 2020-78, s. 7.1; 2021-83, s. 1; 2022-55, s. 7(d); 2022-62, s. 20(a), (b).)