SALEM, Ohio — Imagine opening your mail and finding a bill for a $25,000 septic system. That was the possibility for some homeowners, but thanks to a moratorium on state legislation that won’t happen. If the legislation hadn’t been stopped, it would have made the possibility of installing a high cost septic system a reality for many.
Ohio property owners with septic systems can now breathe a sigh of relief — that is, for two more years.
Up until a few weeks ago, many were worried stricter regulations regarding septic systems were to go in to effect beginning June 30. Under the regulations, anyone with a septic system that didn’t meet state standards would have to pay for expensive repairs or whole new systems.
A moratorium was placed on the legislation in 2005 and it will now continue through 2011.
State Sen. Timothy Grendell of Chesterland worked to get the moratorium passed, contending the legislation would have been overly expensive for landowners and isn’t necessary for the public’s health.
He said under the legislation there would have been as many as 350,000 defective septic systems in Ohio and all would have needed major repairs or an entire new system.
Grendell said many property owners keep their systems pumped and the leach bed systems work fine. The new legislation, he added, would have cost homeowners money they did not need to spend.
“I don’t believe we need these expensive systems,” Grendell said.
The new legislation will require expensive turning systems and does not take into consideration the different soil types spread across the state, he explained.
Grendell said many Ohio residents use the trench system for their septic system because it is so economical to build and maintain. However, if the legislation would have went into effect, it would essentially have ended the homeowner’s ability to construct and use the system.
The legislation considers the trench septic system out of compliance due to environmental and public health concerns.
Grendell added the regulations would have required that the vertical distance of the system’s trenches must be 12 inches from a seasonal water table. In some areas of Ohio, the seasonal water table is only 4 inches from the top at times.
The senator used the example of an Ohioan’s home worth $50,000 but that needed septic upgrade requirements totaling $25,000. The house eventually went into foreclosure.
He said there needs to be a more economical approach to address public safety with septic systems.
Grendell admitted one reason the moratorium was passed was simply because of the state of the economy right now and the foreclosure crisis hitting Ohio.
Grendell wants to introduce an amendment to the existing law when the moratorium ends to allow local health departments the powers to regulate septic systems. That would eliminate the regulatory powers of the Ohio Health Department on septic systems.
The local agencies know what type of soil is in the area and the land layout and what type of septic system will work, Grendell said, and “it’s not necessarily the expensive ones.”
Grendell said the two-year moratorium may be in effect now, but work needs to be done on fine-tuning the legislation and making sure a system is developed that won’t break the homeowner.