Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sewage Rules to Change

The Darke County Health Department wishes to inform the public of draft sewage regulations that have been proposed by the Ohio Department of Health. These rules were authorized by Sub. SB 110 and are anticipated to go into effect January 1, 2014.

T. L .Holman, DVM, RS, Health Commissioner stated: “We feel it is important to inform the public as to what has been presented in the first draft so homeowners can start thinking about if they would like to make changes to their current system or are planning on building a home and would like to get their approval prior to the rule change. We realize what is in draft may not necessarily become the rule, but it is important that homeowners are informed and can start making decisions.”

Major changes in the draft rule include: When upgrading an existing discharging system such as an aeration system or subsurface sandfilter; the system will have to be upgraded so that it is no longer discharging or will have to be upgraded to meet current EPA National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requirements. Roberta Mangen, Environmental Director stated: “We are pretty sure this section of the draft will stay, as the current rules clearly states that these systems were required to meet current EPA effluent standards. The problem is that most existing systems were not designed to meet these standards. We will no longer be allowed to just add an up-flow filter to these systems. This could affect those people that are selling, remodeling, or are splitting land with a home that has this type of system.”

Another section of the rule indicates additional leach lines may not be added to an existing septic system without doing soil testing first; and, those additions would have to meet the separation requirements established in the draft rule. This section could affect people that are having septic problems or are adding onto their homes and need to upgrade their system. This section is currently under review for interpretation.

Another important change is regarding the depth of septic installation and curtain drains. The draft rule includes the depth of the seasonal water table as a limiting condition. Darke County’s seasonal water table is typically at the surface or within 14 inches, which means almost all of our systems would have to be installed above ground (i.e. mound) unless pretreated (aeration component) or the seasonal water table is lowered. The draft rules will allow curtain drains to lower the seasonal water table provided they are engineered in accordance with the rules. However, the proposed methods required to engineer these drains are overly complicated, labor intensive, and will most likely cause the price of systems to go up.

The draft rule also requires the phasing in of existing systems into an Operation & Maintenance program. The Health Department is currently in the process of doing this; however, the health department cannot place a home in the O&M program that does not have a septic system or one that has a tank to a field tile. Therefore, they will have to be upgraded. If a homeowner is in this situation, they may wish to look into putting a septic system in before the rule changes and it becomes more expensive.

During March, 2013, the Ohio Department of Health will reconvene the sewage rule advisory committee to discuss substantive comments received on the draft rules. The Darke County Health Department will continue to monitor these drafts, make comments on the proposed rules, and inform our community of any important updates. For additional rule information or to view the draft regulations visit If you are looking at building a new home, selling a home, or are looking at upgrading your septic system, please contact Elizabeth Farver, Sewage Program Coordinator at 937-548-4196 ext. 233.

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