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Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program

Support for SepTrack Software Update

The BBP sent the following letter to Buzzards Bay area Boards of Health using SepTrack.
July 8, 1999

Re: SepTrack Y2K problem, opportunity for Assessors Office data update

To Boards of Health using the SepTrack Software system:
In 1995, the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program provided computers and a software package called SepTrack to municipal Boards of Health in the Buzzards Bay watershed. Our goal was to enable each Board of Health to better track septic system permits, inspection and maintenance information in order to better protect public health and the environment. We wanted to help towns and cities reduce the time they spent filing, retrieving, and maintaining information so that they could spend more time on important water quality issues. We felt that a software program was needed that could provide at a click of a mouse button, relevant data on any lot in the municipality. Such a software program would also help towns be more responsive to information requests, process permit applications more quickly, and manage new inspection and maintenance reporting requirements identified in the new Title 5 code.
The Buzzards Bay NEP developed the concept for the SepTrack software package and hired the computer consultant firm, Kyran Research Inc. of Newport, Rhode Island, to devise the software package. Cognizant of potential year 2000 data entry problems, we requested that four digit year dates be stored in the SepTrack data base files. However, on one key data entry screen --the entry of septic system pumpout dates--the data entry screen allows only two digits of the date to be entered. Unfortunately, when 00 is entered for the year 2000, the date will be stored as 1900 for that information. Most other data entry screens in SepTrack allow a four digit year to be entered.
This so-called "Y2K" problem does not threaten your computer, the SepTrack database, or any other software or information on your computer. All that will happen is that an incorrect year of pump-out is stored in the database files. You should continue using your computer and SepTrack software since all the data can be transferred to whatever solution your Board chooses to pursue.
Regrettably there is no simple fix, since SepTrack was written in a database manger called FoxPro which was purchased by and later phased out by Microsoft. More importantly, many users of SepTrack have expressed a desire to see the SepTrack program operate in the user-friendly Microsoft Access environment.
The Buzzards Bay NEP apologizes for not catching this oversight, and we would like to offer the following remedy to municipal boards in the Buzzards Bay watershed who have been using SepTrack. The Buzzards Bay NEP will award $1,500 to each interested eligible Buzzards Bay watershed who have been using SepTrack. The municipality may use these funds to pursue any of the following remedies. Payments will be made on a reimbursement basis for actual town expenditures.
1) The SepTrack software developer Kyran Research Inc. has developed a Microsoft Access version of SepTrack. They are offering an upgrade package that also includes translating the old SepTrack data files into the revised program, importing updated Assessors Office ownership and parcel information, and a 1 year service agreement.
2) The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has developed its own Microsoft Access version of a SepTrack-like database manager. Functionally, this software package is very similar to the original SepTrack, and contains nearly all the same data entry fields, and significantly DEP is providing the program for free, which operates under Microsoft Access (office 97 version or later) which you must own to run the program. However, towns would have to hire a computer consultant to transfer their old SepTrack software data as well as to import new Assessors Office data into this package.
3) Other computer consultants and firms are providing SepTrack-like programs. Some also offer integrated database management-GIS packages.
The $1,500 grant from the Buzzards Bay NEP to eligible communities can be used for any of the above solutions. The Buzzards Bay NEP does not want to prescribe a solution, but will leave the choice to Boards of Health. If there is interest by Buzzards Bay watershed municipalities, the Buzzards Bay NEP will hold a workshop or a trade fair on the topic.
Please do not hesitate to call me if you have any questions regarding this initiative.
Dr. Joe Costa
Executive Director