Rules and Regs

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Many residents of Cherokee County in Alabama must hook up to sanitary sewers or get an annual permit from the county health department to install or use a sewage holding tank. The permit requirement took effect July 9 within the Alabama Power Company flood easement around Weiss Lake. The permits also require a contract with a licensed pumper for regular pumping, the frequency of which depends on how much the building is used and water use.

Jefferson County commissioners considered taxing homeowners with onsite systems $80 to $90 per month to help pay off the $3 billion sewer debt. Commissioner George Bowman opposed any sewer rate increase, saying it would be fairer to include those on septic tanks. Previously, the majority of the commissioners opposed the idea.


A minor revision to the state's Subsurface Sewage Disposal System laws clarified the definition of an installer or cleaner and increased the fine for performing those services without a license. The maximum fine for unlicensed installers and cleaners was raised from $100 to $10,000.


Revisions to septic system regulations are underway in Idaho, where the Department of Environmental Quality issued proposed changes for public comment in July. The agency says the proposal addresses "appropriate types of pipe materials, drainfield specifications, procedures for installing pump-to-drop box systems, sand mound design, conditions for approval of seepage pits, and fill material evaluation."


Voters in China township rejected an ordinance requiring inspections every four years for septic systems installed before 1998 within 250 feet of a body of water. Town residents also rejected an amended compliance program that would have exempted systems that pass an initial inspection. The votes left the township without a compliance program for shoreland septic systems.


The Carlton County Board approved measures to apply for $40,000 in funding through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Clean Water Legacy Act to help low-income residents upgrade failing onsite systems. The county funds two to three upgrades a year, taking a lien on the properties to help guarantee repayment of the loans.

The Department of Agriculture (MDA) issued more than 5,000 loans for septic system improvements through the Agricultural Best Management Practices Loan Program. Farmers and rural landowners received loans at 3 percent interest.

The Omnibus Environment and Natural Resource Policy Bill signed into law in May included a provision that allows counties to adopt alternative local standards (ALS) in lakeshore areas for residential onsite systems less than 2,500 gpd.

North Carolina

The state Division of Water Quality renewed a statewide pollution-discharge permit without regulating sand filters. Durham city and county officials believe the filters contribute to nitrogen and phosphorus reaching two regional drinking water reservoirs.

An estimated 2,067 homes, or 19 percent of onsite systems in Durham County, use sand filters. Local governments across the state's Triangle region are considering how to ensure that conventional onsite systems are functioning property. Wake County will require inspections every three to five years.


Seven malfunctioning onsite systems in Lisbon were repaired under a state program administered through the Columbiana County Health Department. Since the county commissioners received the $160,000 state grant, 14 systems have been repaired.

The Department of Health has not yet finalized the rules associated with SB 110, approved in 2010, leaving homeowners without the options the bill provides to replace failing onsite systems. The Ohio EPA advised them to hire an engineer to determine the exact repair cost before assuming it will be unaffordable.


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