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Home Sewage Treatment Systems Rules Update

The Ohio Department of Health has been working with individuals and organizations across the state of Ohio to update home sewage treatment system rules in order to ensure better public health in this area. Whether you work in the real estate business, sewage industry, local government, or are raising a family, these rules can have a direct effect on you and your daily life.

The new rules were drafted and originally posted for public comment from December 2012 to March 2013. During that time, over 2000 comments were posted. Of those comments, 54.5% of the suggestions were incorporated into the new draft.      

13.3% of the comments were not used because the rule advisory committee had a different position (45 stakeholders)

7.6% of the comments were not able to taken because of what is in Ohio law

15.2% of the comments did not have a recommendation for change- they were simply a comment

5.2% of the comments were not used because that part of the rule was removed

4.2% of the comments did not result in change

New rules have been drafted, and are posted here. Public comments regarding the draft rules were accepted for 30 days (Nov. 12 - Dec. 12).

Getting the Facts Straight

Don’t let rumors lead you into expensive repairs and unnecessary sewage system replacements. Ohio’s new sewage rules will NOT require everyone in the state to automatically replace their septic system.

The new sewage rules are going into place for several reasons:

  • They haven’t been updated since 1977
  • While some counties have modernized their own rules since then, other counties have not. These rules will set a minimum standard for Ohio homeowners so you can be assured that your neighbor’s system is not leaking sewage into your yard- or the ponds, lakes and other waterways that you and your family enjoy.

Rumor

Truth

No septic systems will be grandfathered in

You can keep your system as-is as long as there’s not sewage on the top of the ground, missing parts/pieces or backup in your home.

 

If you system was installed before 1974 you will have to replace it

The Ohio Department of Health Report says nearly 1/3 (31%) of all septic systems in Ohio are failing.

If a system is “failing” it could indicate a number of problems, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to replace the entire system to meet the standards in the new rules or the existing state laws- it could just mean replacing missing or broken parts or adding treatment.

 

This will cost you hundreds of dollars in fees every year

The state will charge up to $75 to install a new system, $34 dollars to alter a system and $0 to get an operation permit. You usually end up paying a little more than that because local health departments also need to charge fees to run these programs (staff, training, etc.). Getting your operation permit could be as easy as taking a receipt to your local health department that shows you hired a registered company to pump your septic tank. Local health districts set the amount and length of the operation permit which will vary between one and ten years.
 

You’ll have to use new, expensive technology instead of traditional septic systems.

The new rules offer a wide range of technology WHEN it is time to install, replace or alter. In many cases you can still install traditional technology.

 

Leach fields are no longer an option.

Septic tank/leach field systems are still allowed under the new rules and are the preferred system where soil conditions are good.

Be A Good Neighbor

Without proper maintenance and good system design, your sewage could go into your neighbor’s yard (and their sewage could come into your yard) contaminating the ground water with disease-causing germs like E.coli, Salmonella, Shigella, polio, hepatitis, Cryptosporidium.

In addition to the diseases themselves, mosquitoes and flies that spread some illnesses can breed in areas where liquid waste reaches the surface.

The problems of a failing septic system don’t stop at your property line. Sewage and disease can impact the health of your neighbors and your community.

In addition to creeping into the yard next door, contaminates such as E.coli can get into our beaches. The Ohio Department of Health has identified home sewage system discharge as a contributing factor to unhealthy bacteria levels at Ohio’s beaches. When the levels reach a certain point, the beach must issue an advisory and the beach manager can even close it to the public.

Your septic system won’t last forever, but you can extend the life of it and delay expensive replacement with maintenance and replacement of broken parts.  Ohio’s new sewage system rules DO NOT require everyone to automatically replace their system with new technology. You will have to replace your system WHEN it fails- but that’s been the law in Ohio since 1977. These new septic system rules give you more options to fix it before it fails and more ways to prevent sewage from making you, your family, your neighbors and your community sick from the germs of septic waste.

Protect Your Pocketbook

Most sewage systems will fail sometime. Just like the roof on your house, a septic system is designed to have a lifetime of about 20-30 years, under the best conditions.

Eventually, the soil around the absorption field becomes clogged with organic material, making the system unusable.

But by far the most common reason for early failure is improper maintenance by homeowners. When a system is poorly maintained and not pumped out on a regular basis, sludge (solid material) builds up inside the septic tank, then flows into the absorption field, clogging it beyond repair.

The most obvious effect is the direct expense of replacing your septic system. This could cost $8,000 to $10,000. Systems with motors and parts will need to be serviced over the years, too. Just like you would with any other service professional, be sure to shop around for quotes and references. Your local health department can also tell you which septic system contractors are registered and bonded.

Fees under the proposed rules:

 

Installation Fee

Alteration Fee

Operation Permit

State Fee

2014: $25

2015: $50

2016: $74

2014: $15

2015: $25

2016: $35

None

Local Fee

Set by local health department

Set by local health department

Amount and frequency set by local health department; proposed rules say the maximum operation permit length is ten years.

Just like furnace or the roof on your house, your septic system will probably need to be replaced every 20-30 years- but you can plan for it. As a resident in the country or suburbs, you do not have to pay the average yearly city sewer fee of $450.

When it is time to replace your system, you could qualify for assistance:

Community Development Block Grant Funds, Community Housing Improvement Program and Rural Housing and Rural Utilities Programs are all available resources. For more information, contact your local health department.