Here’s the poop about ownership of some of the islands of the brown Susquehanna River in Lancaster County


There are islands in The Susquehanna between Lancaster County and York County. From a vantage point of Bing Maps, GoogleEarth and other sources, we can see lots of structures that appear to be structures, cabins of sorts.

Where there are cabins, usually there are people.

Where there are people, usually there is people poop?

Wonder where the people poop goes when the people who use the cabins on the islands poop?

There appears to be not enough space for septic systems.

Wonder if it goes into The Susquehanna untreated?

And who owns those islands? Earlier today, we referenced the Penn Live article about ownership of the islands in The Susquehanna in Dauphin County.

In our research, Columbia news, views & reviews found that the dozen or so dozen islands in the River between Lancaster and York Counties paying taxes to the Penn Manor School District have the same owner.

Which suggests that the cabin properties on the island are leased.

Here are the property specifics for these islands:

Manor Township’s Act 537 Plan is here. Manor Township’s Act 537 Plan addresses “on-site” sewage disposal this way: “Holding tanks can provide a method of temporary commercial, residential and/or industrial wastewater disposal until a suitable means of either off-site conveyance or on-site treatment is available. However, the use of holding tanks is generally not considered a viable alternative for sewage disposal on a permanent basis. Wastewater must be pumped from these holding tanks, transported by truck to and treated at a nearby wastewater treatment plant, which would require additional capacity to treat this wastewater. Therefore, holding tanks were not considered as an alternative.

Many municipalities with on-lot or on-site sewage systems require an inspection of an an On Lot Sewage Disposal Systems and proof of proof of Septic Tank Pump-Out, once every three years.

Columbia Borough’s is here. Columbia’s Plan (which is 288 pages shorter) merely  glosses over the subject. Yet there are residential properties in Columbia which are not “hooked into” the sewage system now provided by the Lancaster Area Sewage Authority.

Here’s a Columbia news, views & reviews post from December 2015:

  • More poop about poop – “Sewage enforcement officer—An official of the local agency who reviews permit applications and sewage facilities planning modules and issues permits as authorized by the act and conducts the investigations and inspections that are necessary to implement the act and regulations thereunder.”
    A permit is required for every new septic system that is installed and for any repairs or modifications of an existing system. Any existing system that fails is required to obtain a repair permit before system repairs may be completed. On-site inspections are designed to identify problems at an early stage and typically can result in repairs prior to the onset of noticeable problems.
  • STANDARDS FOR ONLOT SEWAGE TREATMENT FACILITIES | “A structure may not be occupied before the sewage system is finally inspected, approved and covered. Except when the sewage enforcement officer requires a change to the installation schedule because of weather and soil conditions, the permit may be modified with conditions to be established by the local agency to allow use of a septic tank as a temporary holding tank. In these instances, § §  71.61 and 71.63(b)(1) and (2), (c)(1) and (2), 73.61 and 73.62(b) do not apply. Absorption areas shall be covered by the permittee within 5-calendar days after final inspection and approval to prevent damage.” – Pennsylvania Code
  • The Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act (Act 537 of 1966, as amended) requires local agencies (local municipalities, group of municipalities or County Health Department) to administer a permitting program for the installation of onlot sewage disposal systems. The purpose of this permitting program is to ensure uniform standards of system design and installation and thus prevent outbreaks of environmental and public health problems from substandard or malfunctioning onlot systems.” – Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection


  1. All sites on these islands were required by Safe Harbor Water Power Corporation to install composting toilets. Safe Harbor purchased in bulk and the tenants purchased from Safe Harbor. Following installation of the toilets they were inspected and certified by Manor Township Sewage Enforcement Officer. This was all done in 2008

  2. We have been using our composting toilet on Garden Island since 2008 and it has been terrific! These work so well I’m surprised they’re not a more common solution even for standard houses that want to go “green”.

    • Since Mary W’s comment we’ve been doing some Internet research on the composting toilet and we agree with your thought.

      Here’s one we looked at and it seems to really be a workable system for a house.

      Wonder whether the reason is that in most municipalities, don’t residences have to be hooked into the municipal sewer system?


  3. Did you know that all PA state parks have been using composting toilets for years. They work really well. As far as for homes in municipalities, I believe homeowners need to hook up to sewer systems.

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