Rules and Regs: Pumpers Object to Ohio Rules Requiring Inspections

In this month’s regulations update, Florida lawmakers dispute the land application ban and pumpers in Ohio object to being forced to conduct inspections.
Rules and Regs: Pumpers Object to Ohio Rules Requiring Inspections

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Some septic tank pumpers in Ohio are considering a class action lawsuit to overturn new state rules that went into effect on Jan. 1. The 25 Akron-area pumpers object to having to inspect systems and submit reports to the local health department – effectively turning in their own customers who only hired them to pump their systems, according to the group. They have raised their fees to cover the additional work and time, but are also worried about liability questions. The new rules were the result of seven years of discussion at the state level and cleared legislative review last fall, four years after legislation was passed requiring their development.

Washington DOE drafting wastewater regulations for wineries

The Washington Department of Ecology is looking at regulatory changes due to the growing number of wineries in the state. For every gallon of wine produced, the agency says there is an average of 6 gallons of wastewater. While DOE says the industry has done a good job of caring for its waste, it is concerned that many smaller wineries are putting their wastewater into domestic septic systems, which aren’t designed for such waste streams. The largest wineries have individual wastewater discharge permits and DOE is drafting a general permit for smaller operations. Draft regulations are expected in July with a final regulation to follow in November for public comment. Final adoption is scheduled for March 2016. Agency representatives briefed the industry at the February meeting of the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers and plan to survey wineries through the association.

Ban on non-efficient fixtures to take effect next year in Colorado

A proposal to repeal a ban on the purchase and installation of “non-efficient” faucets, shower heads, flushing urinals and tank-type toilets failed by a 6-4 vote in a committee of the Colorado Legislature. The ban, set to go into effect on Sept. 1, 2016, requires the use of fixtures that meet the U.S. EPA WaterSense standards in new construction and renovations of residential, commercial, industrial and state-owned buildings. Criticizing the new rule, Colorado Rep. Tim Dore (R – Elizabeth) cited what he called the “Denver-centric view” of lawmakers. He said they overlooked the needs of rural areas with septic tanks, private wells or small water and sanitation districts that don’t have the water pressure needed to make the fixtures feasible. 

Florida lawmakers attempt to overturn land-spreading ban

Two bills have been introduced to once again try to overturn Florida’s ban on land-spreading septage waste, which becomes effective on Jan. 1, 2016. Passed in 2010, the ban was intended to protect the state’s waters from nutrient pollution. Septic tank haulers and rural counties tried to change the law last year without success. Companion bills were introduced again in February in the state’s House and Senate. Those who oppose the ban say land-spreading is important to rural counties as a fertilizer, noting that many rural areas don’t have wastewater treatment plants or, if they do, they may not accept septage waste. The ban could double the average $250 price of a septic pumpout. The Department of Health reported in 2011 that around 40 percent of the state’s septic tank waste was applied at 92 licensed sites. During discussions in 2014, DOH said it would study the issue of septic tank waste disposal but has not yet issued a report.

New York towns call for septic upgrade funding

A group of town supervisors and village mayors on Long Island are calling for New York to form a $100 million regional initiative to fund upgrades of cesspools and septic systems with advanced onsite systems. The East End Supervisors and Mayors Association, which represents local officials on the eastern end of Long Island (Suffolk County), made their plea in a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislative leaders. Many properties on Long Island still use cesspools and many septic systems are decades old. The group would like the state to offer $5,000 rebates for homeowners who update their septic systems, saying it would result in updates to about 25 percent of the county’s 81,000 onsite systems. Their proposal also calls for $3 million for a nitrogen management and mitigation plan for the area along with $2 million to develop nitrogen standards.

New bill allows continued use of gravity flow systems in Texas

A Texas lawmaker has introduced a bill to grandfather all existing gravity flow septic systems and permit their use on properties of 10 acres or larger. Current state law requires gravity systems to be replaced with an aerobic system if a major repair is required. State Rep. John Wray (R-Waxahachie) had promised to submit the bill (HB 1301) during the 2014 campaign in which he was elected to his first term.

Online permitting is now available in New Hampshire

Designers and installers in New Hampshire can now apply for septic system approvals online. The Department of Environmental Services announced the Subsurface Systems Program ePermitting system in early February. The online offering also accepts the payment of fees with a credit card and allows the tracking of application status. The site address is Registration is required, which can take from one to five days for the department to review the license status of the installer.


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