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12-08-05 Proposal would hike costs, lot sizes for new Mercer County homes

By Shelley Grieshop

  The new state-proposed home sewage system plan brings added costs to homeowners and will require larger lots for installation.

  Mercer County-Celina City Board of Health members heard a condensed version of the newly-drafted plan from county sanitarian Chris Miller during the monthly health department meeting Wednesday.

  The plan, under House Bill 231, will change many of the current regulations governing home sewage treatment systems, such as switching the filtering systems from sand to soil methods. It also may require lot sizes for homes to be at least two acres.

  The new plan, estimated to be in effect by the first week of May, must be followed by anyone installing a new sewage system after that date. Current sewage systems would be grandfathered under the old rules until owners seek replacement. Permits are still being issued under the current rules.

  The new sewage system plan has been a longterm project for state officials who began discussing the issue several years ago. Miller told board members there are several important issues in the plan worth noting.  "First, this will require more training of (sewage system) service providers, haulers and installers," Miller said.

  With the more detailed and larger treatment system, the cost to install and maintain it also will rise "two to three times more than it is now," he added. Soil testing will be required by accredited officials and that alone could cost several hundred dollars, Miller said.

  The new rules also make choosing a sewage system site a bit more complex, he explained.

  "Homeowners will probably have to decide where the sewage system is going in before they decide which area of the lot to build their home," he said.

  Miller said he will be working with the Mercer County Planning Commission to establish a minimum lot size for new home sites to make sure there is adequate space for the larger proposed sewage systems. He believes new home lots should be no smaller than two acres.

  Miller isn't completely thrilled with the newly-drafted rules and hopes to see some changes before the final regulations are written. One of his biggest concerns is that the soil found in Mercer County is not the most suitable for filtering.

  "Our soil is not really conducive to the new planned systems," he said.

  Miller also is concerned that state officials aren't giving the public adequate time to review the lengthy draft, ask questions or give opinions. The Ohio Department of Health is accepting comments for consideration on the new rules until Dec. 16.

  Anyone with concerns about the new sewage system rules should contact Tom Grisby or Jean Caudill of the state residential water and sewage program at 614-466-1390.

   Miller said the new proposed rules can be viewed online as Chapter 3701-29 on the Ohio Department of Health's Web site at


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