The Fayette County Health Department will soon start the three-year phase-in process to the new state-mandated Operation and Maintenance Program for private septic systems.
This will affect all Fayette County homeowners with private septic systems. On Jan. 1, 2015, The Ohio Department of Health adopted and put into effect new private sewage laws and rules that mandate every private septic system, also known as a sewage treatment system (STS), have an operation permit and be monitored on a regular basis.
While it has always been the law for private sewage treatment systems to work properly, often there were no checks to ensure compliance. In the past, installation permits were issued, the system was installed and unless there was a complaint, the system was never checked again. This also means if there isn’t a complaint issued, we are not aware the system is failing.
According to The Ohio Department of Health, 31 percent of home sewage treatment systems in the state of Ohio are estimated to be failing. Failing systems contribute to contamination of the ground water, wells, streams and rivers with high levels of bacteria, viruses and nitrates. A failed sewage treatment system poses a health risk to homeowners and neighbors alike. So eliminating failed sewage treatment systems is a goal everyone should support.
In Fayette County, there are over 6,000 homes and businesses that use a private sewage treatment system to treat wastewater. Because of that large number of systems, the Fayette County Health Department will soon be starting the phase-in process by township with a goal of completing initial assessments to determine the type of private sewage system at each home/business over the next three years.
There is no cost for this initial assessment which will consist of records, reviews and/or on-site inspections. If the Fayette County Health Department has sufficient records on file, your private sewage treatment system may not receive an initial assessment in person. While you are not required to be present, we always welcome questions and are happy to talk to you about your system.
The Fayette County Health Department will typically visit during normal business hours and can be identified by the following:
1. Clothing or a safety vest marked with Fayette County Health Department
2. A vehicle marked with Fayette County Health Department
3. A Fayette County Health Department ID badge
4. An agency letter/paperwork identifying our purpose
To start the visit, the inspector will knock on the door. If no one answers, they will walk the accessible areas of the property to assess all components of the septic system. They will NOT enter any house, building or storage facility; the assessment is all outside. After completing the assessment, a report and contact information will be left for the property owner. If for some reason you do not receive your report, a copy will be kept on file and can be emailed or mailed if needed. The property owner is encouraged to contact us with any questions.
Every septic system must have an operation permit. Initial permits will be sent at the end of 2016 to septic system owners in November 2016 for the 2017-2019 Operation Permit. Every STS owner will be billed for a prorated permit in the amount of $30 ($10 per permit year). After the initial phase-in, O&M permits will be issued in years ending in 0 and 5 (ex. 2020, 2025, etc.). In the fall of 2019, every STS owner will receive a bill for $50 ($10 per permit year) for their 2020-2024 permit and every five years after that. Rural homeowners should be planning for sewage treatment failures just as they would plan to purchase a new roof or furnace.
Every septic system needs to be inspected on a regular basis which varies depending on the type of system you own. For a complete list of septic systems and the inspection requirement, visit our website at faycohd.org.
After the initial phase-in assessments, you can choose from the three options below for who will complete ongoing inspections for your system.
The first option is a Registered Service Provider. There is only one registered service provider in Fayette County that is registered to perform inspections on sewage treatment systems. The service provider charges a fee for the assessment. The service provider will submit the inspection paperwork to FCHD (both the homeowner and service provider have an equal responsibility to submit all necessary paperwork to FCHD).
The advantage to having a registered service provider assess your septic system is most service providers are able to perform maintenance on your system whereas FCHD will not. Some registered service providers only perform inspections and will not be able to fix your system if they find something wrong. If you think you might need service done to your system, be sure to ask the registered service provider if they will be able to perform service or if they just assess the system. Registered Service Providers in Fayette County as of date:
1000 Armbrust Ave.
Washington C.H., Ohio 43160
Your second option for your O&M inspection would be the Fayette County Health Department. If there is a problem after inspecting your septic system, FCHD will suggest measures to take to make sure it is working correctly. If you choose to have FCHD perform your inspection, the current fee is $30. The Fayette County Health Department will not perform any repairs to your private STS.
A third option is you can perform inspections on the STS of your primary residence if you own the property. There is a process you must go through in order to become a registered service provider with the Fayette County Health Department. You first need to take and pass a service provider test. The test is a free online test. After passing the test you must submit a certificate of completion along with your application for registration to FCHD. We will process your application and you will receive your service provider registration.
Once received, you may perform service and inspections on your STS. Homeowner registration is required every year and it is the homeowner’s responsibility to submit the inspection report to FCHD.
For further information or questions, please contact Fayette County Health Department Environmental Health office Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. at 740-333-3590.
The Fayette County Health Department submitted this article.