Paper One: Statewide V Regional Health Codes

newsidebarStatewide v Regional Health Code variations

jasonmJason Menchhofer, R.S.
Board Secretary
WasteWater Education 501(c)3

Environmental Health Director
Van Wert County Health Department, Ohio

One of the perceived advantages of a statewide onsite code is to promote consistency in operations and enforcement of regulations across the state. This will will work much better in some areas of onsite system regulation than others.

It may be beneficial and even relatively easy to have the same statewide regulatory requirements for the following:

  • Definitions- to promote clear and consistent communication regarding onsite systems statewide.
  • Basic steps in the permitting, installation, inspection and approval process.
  • Registration and bonding requirements for contractors such as installers, service providers and septage haulers.
  • Required observations that must be reported during a soil evaluation.
  • Establishing daily design flow and waste strength for each wastewater source.
  • Standards for tanks, pumps and controls
  • Mechanism for review and approval of new onsite system technologies not currently addressed in the regulations.
  • Minimum standards for systems currently available for statewide use, such as leaching trenches or sand mounds.
  • Abandonment of existing systems.

It may be beneficial to have differing regional requirements in the following areas:

  • Soil absorption system requirements, such as vertical separation distances to limiting conditions in the soil.  Although these requirements should be based primarily on science, differing soil and geological conditions in different areas of the state will change the level of risk associated with placing wastewater at a given distance from certain limiting conditions such as a perched seasonal high water table.
  • Point of sale or operation and maintenance inspection programs.  If required by code, small and/or under-staffed departments should be afforded the opportunity to phase these programs in gradually over a period of time.  At the same time, more progressive departments which already have well established programs in these areas should be able to continue implementation of their programs at current levels.

In these areas where consistent statewide regulation is difficult, or differing regional requirements are otherwise desirable, the statewide code should include minimum standards, and should allow local or regional health jurisdictions some ability to adopt their own standards, which may be more strict (but not less strict) than the state code standards.

NB: Ohio took advantage of ARRA stimulus funding to assist property owners to do repairs or replace their systems. WasteWater Education hosted a presentation about this award winning program at the 2011 MEHA Conference and a recording can be viewed here.

Also Ohio is once again attempting to revive new septic standards after the law enacted 6 years ago was rescinded.

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