Suggested Simple Steps Toward creating
a Statewide Sanitary Code for Michigan Individual Wastewater Systems.
deq-wb-dwehs-ows-whitepaper_statewidecode_240552_7.pdf [published October 19, 2004]
WasteWater Education 501(c)3 Board of Directors April 24, 2014
Without a basic understanding of how such systems have vastly improved the quality of life, and the environment, in Michigan, sound policy can be hijacked by rhetoric, vested interests and plain scare mongering. But we also recognize that there are locations within the state that have significant problems – why, and how to address that, has long been part of the discussion about creating a statewide sanitary code.
Michigan is the last state without a basic statewide code to regulate individual wastewater systems. With several attempts to craft one, failure was virtually guaranteed last time when the proverbial ‘too many cooks’ all sought to slice out and protect their particular piece of the pie. A justifiable objection was that the statewide regulations as proposed seriously undercut health jurisdictions where onsite systems are well regulated already. Considerable objection, and suspicion, was raised of the political components of who had the final say over the ‘who, what and where’.
What drove these road blocks of the past, and how simple steps could lead the way forward now, is the subject of this presentation.
WasteWater Education is now a nationally based nonprofit with a simple message “water is water, not waste.” The Board of Directors all represent professions and stakeholders from the integrated water fields. Current and Past Board members were part of the most recent committee tasked with that attempt to create a Statewide Sanitary Code.
By looking at how other States have resolved this same issue, Wastewater Education is proposing this, hopefully civilized, discussion – of a simple step-by-step, ‘undiluted’ solution – to arrive at a baseline of statewide regulations but at the same time creating regional management and discretionary oversight. The basic premise is to craft a regional approach based on ‘like’ regions of soils, climate and population. (The Earth Science class for educators at Michigan Tech has an online textbook on Michigan Geography & Geology)
You can advance each section using the navigation arrows at the bottom of the screen, use the optional viewing buttons at the bottom right of the screen or use your mouse to zoom in or out. You may add comments there but we prefer if the thread follows these pages here please.
Part One Document (click here to access or use the pull down menu tab above) is the first of a series of ‘white papers’ – each focusing on the 8 sub sections. This is not a dictatorial document – we invite and welcome reasoned discussion. It’s time to put aside the turf mongering and move forward in a positive, proactive manner.
To achieve success, all sides will have to give up something, and all sides will retain control over what really matters – protecting public health and the environment – period!
Realtors will not be ‘the septic police’. Pumpers will not be ‘snitches’. The Health Department sanitarians will not be the ‘enemy. Those who seek to use restricting onsite wastewater systems as a substitute for sound planning and zoning will be disappointed. Those who would prefer to keep such discussions out of the public domain may be surprised. Everyone here can present their piece of the story.
As all of the Great Lakes Basin wrestles with water shortages and supply issues, it’s time to put away the sniffing noses and recognize that we are, have always been, and always will be, what we drink! Your coffee today was made with water that’s made coffee many, many times before – get over it!
But if you don’t want something else that’s brown floating in there too, it’s time to get serious, but practical, about basic statewide sanitation codes for individual wastewater systems.
And recognize that in the scheme of things, there are much bigger underlying causes of surface water algae blooms and source water contamination than a 1500 gallon septic tank.
We don’t expect everyone to agree with all, or any, of what we have to offer for discussion. But if everyone can find one small piece of consensus? Who knows we might indeed be able to build this ‘one piece at a time’?