Pennsylvania farmer told he has to get rid of his privy

I remember as a young boy using the outhouse on my grandmother’s farm. She had indoor plumbing by that time, but the weathered wooden two-holer next to the barn was still an acceptable second choice if the indoor facilities were occupied. Those were the good ole’ days, as they say.

Apparently outhouses are no longer acceptable in some locations, and a rural Pennsylvania farmer found that out recently. Still using an outhouse, 77-year-old Wilson Huyett was informed recently that he had to abandon the privy and install a septic system he estimates will cost $20,000.

According to news accounts, Huyett has been using an outhouse for decades on his 140-acre farm that may date back to the 1700s. He lives alone and said he didn’t see anything wrong with using the outhouse. Salisbury Township and Pennsylvania officials disagree, saying the property is located in a high-quality watershed and a septic system is required by law. They are ordering Huyett to install a mound system with three underground tanks, and the homeowner has already paid $750 for a permit and soil absorption test.

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This situation begs the question: When’s the last time you arrived at a potential worksite and found an outhouse on the property? And while this central Pennsylvania farmer apparently can’t have an outhouse, they remain perfectly acceptable in some rural locations. What are the rules in your area? Have you ever done any work on an outhouse, installing a holding tank, for example?

And while we’re all concerned about the environment and a quality supply of drinking water, do you still think there’s a place for the old fashioned outhouse?

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