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Rural homeowners face new rules for sewage treatment

Published Mar. 20, 2013 | Discuss this article on Facebook
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Larry Antosch

Buckeye Farm News

The Ohio Department of Health is working to update its rules for home sewage treatment systems in order to better protect the environment and human health.  Larry Antosch, Ohio Farm Bureau’s senior director of program innovation and environmental policy, has been representing Farm Bureau members as the rules are proposed.

What’s the issue?

The rules that are in place today for home sewage treatment have been in place since the 1970s. So we’re dealing with rules that have really gone out of date and don’t reflect current technology.In 2010, the Ohio Department of Health had rules that were proposed, went into place and then were rescinded. Homeowners and other individuals were concerned because there were increased costs that were assigned to home sewage treatment systems. The legislature created a rule advisory committee to rewrite and revamp the rules.

Where are we today?

Well, we’re not quite back at the drawing board. The advisory committee met through mid-2012. The Ohio Department of Health issued draft rules. That comment period ended March 1. Ohio Farm Bureau looked at those rules and submitted a comment letter reflecting our policies.

What concerns have our members expressed?

There are a couple areas where our policies did not reflect what was being presented in the rules. The rules say when a sewer system becomes available to an area, you’re required to abandon your home sewage treatment system. Our members feel that if you already have a functioning home sewage treatment system, you shouldn’t be forced to pay to tie into the sewer line and have an ongoing sewer bill.

Our policy also calls for someone who is certified to do a soil evaluation on the building site. It’s not that sanitarians don’t have continuing education requirements, but there aren’t really provisions in the rule to make sure they’re certified.

What’s next?

The Department of Health will review all of the comments, draft a second version of the rules and start another comment period in the coming weeks. If everything goes according to schedule, the rules would go into effect in the fall. So we still have lots of opportunity to review and comment and suggest changes.

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