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Ohio revises home sewage treatment rules

Buckeye Farm News

Under Ohio’s revised home sewage treatment rules, homeowners will not be required to replace their septic system “as long as there’s not sewage on the top of the ground, missing parts/pieces or backup in your home,” according to the Ohio Department of Health.

The new standards, which went into effect Jan. 1, consider site conditions, soil types and new technologies to prevent sewage from ponding on the ground or leaking into ground or surface water.

According to the health department, 31 percent of Ohio’s septic systems are failing, although they may only require the replacement broken parts or added treatment to bring them into compliance. Some counties had already enacted more stringent rules, but statewide regulation hadn’t been updated since 1977.

While the rules establish modern standards for system construction, alteration and maintenance, the process for replacing and installing a new system remains the same. The health department says lower cost, low maintenance systems such as septic tanks are the preferred design and will continue to be the primary systems installed in Ohio, but new technologies may be needed where soils present challenges for sewage treatment.

System owners can manage costs by requesting a timeline for the incremental repair or replacement of a failing system. According to the health department, a septic system is designed to have a lifetime of about 20-30 years, under the best conditions.

In addition to the updated rules, legislation is being discussed stipulating when homeowners would be required to connect to a public sewage system. OFBF policy states that homeowners should not be required to abandon their private sewage treatment system if it is approved by a qualified inspector.

Lynn Snyder 

Lynn Snyder is senior director of communications for Ohio Farm Bureau.