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May 14, 2013

County looks at septic ordinance

WASHINGTON — For the first time in over 40 years, the Daviess County Commissioners are looking into changing septic system laws.

County Environmental Health Specialist Geoff Stoner presented the commissioners with a wide-ranging ordinance on septic systems. This is the first ordinance on septic systems in Daviess County since 1972.

Stoner, along with County Attorney Grant Swartzentruber, have been working on the ordinance for over six months.

“This took time, but it combines two old ordinances,” Swartzentruber said.

Stoner said the ordinance updates the 1972 ordinance and a 2008 ordinance placing requirements of installers of septic systems. The ordinance requires a permit with applicable fees from the county Health Department each time a homeowner wants to install, repair or alter a septic system. Current systems are not subject to the permit, but if they need repair or reconstruction, they would have to get a permit.

Installers who would put in or repair septic systems have to receive certification from the county. The certification comes from a knowledge of environmental laws and insurance requirements. If an installer does not have certification, they can be fined up to $1,000 for repeat offenses.

If a homeowner is found violating the ordinance and does not repair the septic system within a unspecified time limit, the homeowner can receive a first-time fine of $1,000 and subsequent fees of $500 per day. Also, there is a $500 fine if a homeowner does not get a permit for a septic system.

The ordinance will be up for adoption at the commissioners’ next full meeting on June 10. Following the ordinance presentation, there was discussion on several salvage yards that are causing eyesores north of Farlen.

Commissioner Mike Taylor said he has received calls about three operations in that area that were termed eyesores and are visible from county roads. Current ordinances said a junkyard or a salvage yard cannot be seen within 1,000 feet of a county road.

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