A proposed ordinance to loosen septic inspection rules was reintroduced after an incorrect draft drew a standing-room only crowd to county council chambers.
At their January 27 meeting council members Barbara Brenner and Sam Crawford, who had proposed the ordinance introduced November 10, stated that an incorrect draft had been introduced. The incorrect draft effectively eliminated all requirements for regular inspections, which would have contradicted state laws.
The draft reintroduced on January 27 eliminates the requirement for professional inspections but maintains the need for regular inspections by homeowners or inspectors.
It also commits the county to creating a class homeowners must take if they perform their own inspections and establishing a low-interest loan program to help the owners of failing systems.
Council members referred the ordinance to the health committee to work on finalizing an ordinance that will be scheduled for another hearing.
“The administration said they would do a temporary stay of enforcement so we could work on this and get it done,” Brenner said. She indicated staff had said they felt the new current version of the ordinance was feasible.
Current rules for property owners with septic systems are for an initial professional inspection for all systems and then regular inspections every year to three years, depending on the system.
Homeowners who take a county class can do their own inspections following the initial professional inspection, as long as a professional inspection is done every third time. The county health department is currently notifying property owners they need to have their systems professionally inspected.
Brenner has maintained the current rules are too much of a financial burden for homeowners – inspectors are charging $200 to $300 for an inspection – and that the funds would be better spent on system maintenance. Inspections throughout the county have about a 3 to 4 percent failure rate.