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Water/Sewage Surveys for Real Property Transfers

The Environmental Health Division routinely conducts inspections of private water supplies and sewage disposal systems for real property transfers.  These surveys are mandatory for all transfers of real property with onsite water supplies or sewage disposal systems.  There are certain exemptions (see the link to Part 17 of the Sanitary Code of the Cattaraugus County Health District below).

Exemptions Include:

  • Properties connected to both public water and sewer utilities.
  • Properties transferred as part of a foreclosure action.
  • Owner-occupied single-family residences transferred between immediate family members.  (Rental properties are not exempt)
  • Properties transferred by operation of law, such as intestate or testamentary succession. (Intestate and testamentary succession are legal terms describing specific types of property transfers associated with the death of the property owner.  Contact your attorney for more information about these types of real property transfers.)
  • Properties transferred in connection with a partition action under Article 9 of the "Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law".

Please note that lending agencies often require surveys of private water supplies and sewage disposal systems as part of the lending process.  County code exemptions are independent of lending agency requirements.

How is a Water/Sewage Survey Performed?

Inspections of private water supplies consist of a bacteriological water sample and a visual inspection of the water source and any water system equipment.  A water supply is considered potable if the water sample indicates an absence of contamination by both coliform and E. coli bacteria.  It is common for old systems to have to be disinfected or sources better developed and protected to pass the bacteria test.

Inspections of private sewage disposal systems typically consist of a dye test.  During a dye test, dye is introduced to your sewage disposal system through your toilet facilities.  A large amount of water is flushed through the system by running faucets for up to an hour.  This is to ensure that the dye travels through the entire sewage system.  If your plumbing does not back up and no dye is observed reaching the ground surface, then your sewage system might not need repairs or replacement.

Forms & References

Water-Sewage Survey Request Form

Sanitary Code of the Cattaraugus County Health District (see Part 17: Real Property Transfers)