It’s not Big Brother, It’s about septic system maintenance

Homeowners say the local health department is getting too personal

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Homeowners with septic systems in a Montana county fear the local health department is asking too many personal questions about how they use their bathrooms, according to a story this week in the Helena Independent Record newspaper.

The homeowners object to questions in a Lewis and Clark County survey meant to determine if their septic systems are being used and maintained properly. Among the questions residents object to include:

Do you have three or more overnight guests at a time, or have large groups visit your house?

Are there more people living in your home than there are bedrooms?

Do you have a washing machine that conserves water (Water-conserving top-loading washer or a front-loading washing machine)?

Every citizen has a right to privacy,’’ homeowner Joe Dooling told the newspaper. “My problem is the invasive questions … that quite honestly are not anybody’s business.’’

Health department officials say irate homeowners are missing the point. They say the survey is meant only to help residents with operations and maintenance of their septic systems so they last longer and work better. In addition, new regulations are aimed at uncovering failing systems that might taint the local water supply. According to the report, 33 septic systems were found to be failing last year, the first year of the regulations.

You can read the full Independent-Record story here:

Do homeowners ever tell you to mind your own business when you ask questions about system usage, either during the system design or install phase, or when working on an O & M contract? If so, how do you explain the need for answers to questions they think are too personal?

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