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Friday, June 1st, 2007

Repeal of new state sewage rules opposed

By William Kincaid
The Grand Lake/Wabash Watershed Alliance is opposed to a recently introduced Ohio bill that would revert to the old on-site sewage treatment system (STS) laws prior to Jan. 1, 2007.
During the regular meeting on Thursday afternoon, GLWWA Coordinator Theresa May went over a letter she wrote to Ohio Sen. Keith Faber, R-Celina, on behalf of the GLWWA. The letter states "that there is a better option than rescinding the new sewage treatment laws" and offers two possible propositions.
The new STS laws, which became effective on Jan. 1, require an on-site, no discharge septic system. Although the current 4,000 private septic systems in Mercer County are supposed to adhere to the requirement, some may not, May told the newspaper.
May said the new laws require different systems that are more environmentally friendly. Those systems, in addition to more detailed soil investigation and engineering, would cost property owners up to $15,000.
Though the GLWWA is against reverting to the less rigid STS laws, its members feel the current laws could be altered.
"The new laws do require a higher expenditure for homeowners; therefore, our first proposed option is to provide financial assistance to homeowners needing to install a new system," she wrote in her letter. "In fact, the GLWWA has applied for a U.S. EPA Targeted Watersheds Grant which would allot over $200,000 to be used for a 50 percent cost-share assistance program for the replacement of approximately 30 STS's in the watershed."
In the letter, the GLWWA also proposes to modify the news STS laws instead of simply rescinding them.
"Keep the new rules in place, but review and modify them in a timely fashion," she wrote in her letter. "Additional design options could be presented that have been proven to be effective in the past. Could it also be considered to address individual soil types to evaluate the best system design for each type?"
During the meeting, May said the bill supporters are looking at the economic impact of the new law.
Lake Improvement Association representative Tom Rampe said rescinding the new laws is a step in the wrong direction.
In her letter, May also wrote "the Grand Lake/Wabash River Watershed has been defined by Ohio EPA as one of the most degraded watersheds in Ohio ... Replacement of failing STS's is a very important objective outlined in the Grand Lake/Wabash River Watershed Action Plan, and this objective will ultimately move us toward our goal of improved water quality in the watershed."
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