Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 26, 2018

Board of Health approves new permits, fees for wastewater

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News | Apr 11, 2018

The Regional Utility Service Systems is continuing to work toward getting the ship up righted after they took over sanitarian services for Henry County when the previous sanitarian was terminated earlier this year.

A part of “straightening out the mess we’ve made” is reviewing permit applications for sewer systems, said Buzz Bezoni, chair of Board of Health during a meeting on Monday, April 9.

Bruce Hudson, Executive Director of Regional Utility Service Systems (RUSS), said that there are a lot of files that are 35 years old and never been updated. Hudson said inaccurate data had not been purged from the system in those years and it is almost impossible to backtrack with many of the files under the name of the property owner from 30 years ago.

Hudson is trying to create a uniform system for sanitarian procedures moving forward, saying he didn’t recreate the wheel. “I’ve already done these for other counties,” he said.

The first permit fee Board of Health approved was pulling a new permit for a septic system, which costs $500. Hudson is also implementing an alteration permit for $200. If a current system needs changes made but the design is staying the same, an alteration permit will enable them to do so rather than applying for an entirely new permit.

If a resident has received approval for a new permit, they have one year to install the approved septic system. Hudson said a lot of times sanitarians receive calls from homeowners saying they won’t meet their deadline because their contractor is busy.

Because of this, Hudson proposed a six-month extension option for $100 for new permits, which the board approved.

Another reason for this was because in the previous sanitarian’s records, Hudson noticed that there were situations where the permit holder knew the sanitarian and was just giving extensions for that reason.

“We don’t play those games,” Hudson said. “Our policy is going to be no extension unless we’ve given you one.”

The next permit the board approved was an operations permit, which is needed by anyone who receives a holding tank. RUSS does not take holding tanks lightly and views them as a last resort if no other septic system is a viable option.

Once someone receives approval for a holding tank, they will receive information about an operators’ permit, which has to be renewed annually for $30 a year. At the point of renewal, pump records, maintenance contracts and other relevant information will be sent to RUSS.

“The county has been (approving holding tanks) without anything in place to ensure residents are not discharging it into the river or stream,” Hudson said. “We don’t want to shut our eyes after we issue it. We want to be able to track it.”

Other permits approved include a holding tank permit pre-inspection and a holding tank annual renewal, which is separate from the operators’ permit.

RUSS also will be speaking with the county attorney about drawing up a new agreement for sharing services with the Jefferson County sanitarian as needed. Supervisor Greg Moeller said that Hudson should have the attorney review the document, rewrite as needed and send it to the Jefferson County attorney to adopt it.

“We still need someone in place from Jefferson County to fill in if (Hudson) is not available,” Moeller said, explaining why he wanted to continue the agreement between the two counties.

Hudson wanted to be sure to stipulate that they will help Jefferson County as they are available, saying that a “perfect storm” would be all the sanitarians gone at the same time. He is OK with the agreement though.

“They’re colleagues too,” Hudson said. “They’re partnered counties. We want to be a good partner.”

At the end of the meeting, Bezoni and Hudson agreed that they can “figure out” the program in a year; however, Hudson said that it will take 20 to 25 years to get everyone up to speed.

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