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Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Officials stress over proposed septic rules

Auglaize health department looking at inspecting nearly 7,500 properties

By Shelley Grieshop
WAPAKONETA - Local health officials are worried about the state's proposed home septic system rules including a requirement to inspect and monitor each of the nearly 7,500 properties in Auglaize County.
Environmental health director Curt Anderson told board members Tuesday the operation and maintenance portion in the pending regulations would require his staff to find, retrieve data, inspect, monitor and issue permits for each of the county's 7,494 septic systems not tapped into central systems.
Anderson said the county would be required to start with septic systems in the Grand Lake Watershed, which in 2011 was designated as "distressed" by the state.
The board will be asked for guidance in the process, he said.
"It will be up to the board on how in-depth you want us to be. This will be very time consuming," he said.
He told board members he hopes to tap county records to establish a searchable database for the project.
"There's about 2,800 houses we have no information on at all," he said.
The cost to residents could be less than $100 every few years for inspections and other services, Anderson said.
He won't know specifics of the law until the new regulations are finalized later this year or possibly in 2015, he said. Public meetings will be scheduled to draw input from and educate residents prior to final implementation, he added.
The state established new home septic system regulations in January 2007 but rescinded them several months later after the public deemed them too extreme and costly. Local health departments were then instructed to adopt their own rules - tailored to their personal demographics and needs - until new ones were created. The interim was supposed to last two years.
Anderson also discussed another aspect of the proposed regulations that creates about a dozen new fees and permits for septic system services. Each would require board approval, he said.
"At first we'll have to guess our actual cost," Anderson said. "In about two years, after tracking the data, we should have a better idea on how much to charge."
Also included in the proposed regulations is the option to adjust the seasonal water table for septic system efficiency. The county's current vertical length is 12 inches but Anderson said he'd recommend changing it to six inches.
"I've talked to other area counties that have it at six (inches) and they don't have any problems," he said.
Anderson said the proposed rules, as written, closely mirror those rescinded in 2007.
"I could see another outcry and at least some of it rescinded again," he said.
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