If you're thinking of inspecting your own sewage treatment system (STS) starting in 2020 it's a good idea to do your homework on how your STS should be functioning.
COMING SOON we will have information on each of the following sewage treatment systems and some common issues users of each of these systems experience.
In the meantime, take a look at the OSU extension office's septic system maintenance page here.
Treatment and Pretreatment Types
Septic tanks help keep solid waste from clogging the rest of the system. When maintained correctly, solid waste will sink to the bottom of the tank allowing the rest of the sewage to move on the the next part of treatment. Septic tanks have evolved over the years to have more ways to keep solids from causing damage to the septic system. In the pictures below you will see a cross section of a septic tank. You'll see the sludge layer (solids) at the bottom and a scum layer (Oils and other fluids lighter then water) at the top. It is important to regularly pump out your septic tank in order to make sure that sludge and scum layers don't build up and cause irreversible damage to the system.
How often you should pump your tank is different for each system. It depends on how many people live in your home and the size of your septic tank.Below is table created by The Ohio State University that determines how often you should get your tank pumped based on those two factors.
|Table 1. Estimated septic tank pumping frequency (in years) for different size tanks for 1 to 9 people in a household of year-round residence.
Note: If a garbage disposal is used, more frequent pumping is required.
|Number of People|
One of the most common treatment types is a leach field. Leach fields start with a diversion box which diverts sewage into several long leach lines that allow sewage to trickle through the ground water without discharging to the surface. It relies on the microbes naturally present in the soil to clean the sewage before it is reused. Leach fields usually rely completely on gravity to move sewage along to long leach lines that allow the sewage to "leach" into the soil. Sometimes due to higher elevations a electrical pump is needed to get sewage to the leach field.
Common issues with leach fields occur when septic tanks are not pumped regularly and solids are allowed into the leach field. The solids clog the lines and don't allow sewage to leach out and be cleaned naturally. Depending on where the clog is, sewage can surface up into your yard or back into your home causing human and environmental health hazards. In order to make sure clogs don't occur in your leach field, you should pump the septic tank out regularly according to the chart above and switch the elbow in the diversion box at least every 6 months. Additionally, avoid parking cars, building anything or in anyway compacting the leach field.
Subsurface Sand Filter
Please see our Aerator Systems page.
EPA Grant Information
Union County Health Department was awarded a grant to fix and replace failing septic systems in Union County. If you know you have a problem with your system but do not have the funds to fix it, contact Holly Rast for information on how to apply!
Holly J. Rast
|Initial Assessments ~||Assement Phase-in Schedule ~||O&M Permits ~||O&M Inspections|
|Inspection Options ~||EPA Grant Information ~||O&M Staff Profiles ~||FAQ's|
|HOW TO GET A COPY OF YOUR ASSESSMENT REPORT
In January of 2015, Ohio Department of Health (ODH) adopted new private sewage laws (Ohio Administrative Code: Chapter 3701-29). These new laws mandate every private septic system also known as a sewage treatment system (STS) have an operation permit and to be monitored on a regular basis. This will ensure STS are working correctly and not polluting the environment.
In Union County over 9,000 homes and businesses use STS to treat wastewater. Because of the large number of systems, initial assessments will be completed by township with only approximately 3 townships per year being added onto the O&M program starting in 2016. Below is the current schedule the Environmental Health Division has made for the 2016-2019 implementation of the countywide O&M program. (this schedule is subject to change)
2016-17: Claiborne, Leesburg, Taylor
2017-18: Jackson, Washington, York, Liberty
2018: Darby, Dover, Jerome, Millcreek
2019: Allen, Union, Paris
*Phase in is by township. Years are subject to change.
The Union County Health Department will be conducting initial assessments to determine the type of private septic system at each home or business. There is no cost for this initial assessment. These assessments will consist of records reviews and/or on-site inspections. If the health deapartment has sufficient records on file your private septic system may not receive an initial assessment in person.
Initial assessments will be completed by township from 2016 through 2019, with approximately three townships per year being assessed. You can see the current map above although this is subject to change if needed. After your initial assessment has been done and the private septic system type has been determined, your private septic system will be officially added to the Board of Health’s Operation and Maintenance (O&M) program. Claibourne, Leesburg and Taylor Townships are the townships slated for review in 2016.
While you are not required to be present, our inspectors always welcome questions and are happy to talk with you about your system. Health Department inspectors will typically visit during normal business hours and can be identified by any of the following:
1. Clothing or safety vest with the agency logo;
2. A vehicle marked with the agency’s logo;
3. An agency ID badge;
4. Agency letter/ paperwork identifying their purpose
You are always encouraged to contact our department if there is any concern at (937) 642-2053
To start the visit, the inspector will knock on the door. If no one answers, they will walk the accessible areas of the property to assess all components of the septic system. They will NOT enter any house, building or storage facility; the assessment is all outside.
After completing the assessment, a report and contact information will be available for the property owner. If for some reason you do not receive your report, a copy will be kept on file and can be emailed or mailed if needed. The property owner is encouraged to contact us with any questions.
If you live in Claibourne, Leesburg, or Taylor townships you may have already received a notice on your door stating that an assessment has been completed. To receive a copy of this assessment please send an email with your address to EHcontact@uchd.net. Someone from our office will reply with a copy of your assessment report. You should receive a copy of your report with 1-2 business days.
If you did not receive a notice but your neighbors did you may have received a desk audit meaning we have all the information we need to complete your assessment from our office. You can receive a copy of your report by following the instructions above.
If you live in a township other than Claibourne, Leesburg or Taylor you will be assessed during the years stated above. (click here to see a map) However, if we visit your property for another reason (water sampling, nuisance complaint etc) we may complete your initial assessment at that time.
O&M Permits are REQUIRED under the state sewage laws. Initial O&M permits will be sent to septic system owners in November of 2016 for the prorated 2017-2019 Operation Permit. At the end of 2016 every septic system owner will be billed for a prorated permit in the amount of $30 ($10 per permit year). You will receive this bill in the mail with more information on when and how you can pay for your permit.
After the phase-in process, permits will be renewed in every year ending in a 0 or 5 (i.e. 2020, 2025...) and you will receive that renewal application in the mail the fall before the renewal is required.
For example: In the fall of 2019, every septic system owner will receive a renewal bill for their 2020-2024 permit. Then in the fall of 2024 they will receive their next renewal bill for the 2025-2029 O&M permit.
Starting in 2020, every septic system needs to be inspected on a regular basis which varies depending on the type of system you own. The table below shows the types of systems by category and how often they will be inspected.
After your initial assessment, you can choose from the three options below for who will complete ongoing inspectons for your system.
- Registered Service Provider
- Union County Health Department
- Registered Property Owner
Union County Health Department (UCHD) has a list of service providers that are registered to perform inspections on septic systems. Each service provider charges a fee for the assessment which varies depending on the service provider. The service provider will submit the inspection paperwork to UCHD (both the homeowner and service provider have an equal responsibility to submit all necessary paperwork to UCHD). Please note all inspection documentation must be submitted within one month to UCHD and any work performed on the STS must be reported to UCHD within 3 months.
The advantage to having a registered service provider assess your septic system is most service providers are able to perform maintenance on your system whereas UCHD will not. A full list of registered service providers can be found here: Registered Service Providers. Some registered service providers only perform inspections and will not be able to fix your system if they find something wrong. If you think you might need service done to your system, be sure to ask if the registered service provider if they will be able to perform service or if they just assess the system.
2. Union County Health Department
Your second option for your O&M inspection would be the Union County Health Department. If there is a problem after inspecting your septic system, UCHD will suggest measures to take to make sure it is working correctly. If you choose to have UCHD perform your inspection, the current fee can be found in the Envionmental Fee Schedule under catergory IV (Sewage Treatment Systems) Section D (Operation and Maintenance Assessments) Line 1 (HSTS Inspection).
**UCHD will NOT perform any repairs to your septic system.
3. Registered Property Owner (primary residence only)
A third option: STARTING IN 2020, you can perform inspections on the Sewage Treatment System (STS) of your primary residence if you own the property. There is a process you must go through in order to become a registered service provider with the Union County Health Department.
1) First, You'll need to take and pass a service provider test.
The test is offered for free online. After passing the test you must submit a certificate of completion to UCHD.
2) Along with your test certificate you must submit your application for registration to UCHD.
Registration fees and bonding requirements have been waived for individuals only performing service on their primary residence. UCHD will processes your application.
3) In order to process your application you must receive education on your septic system type. Set up an appointment with one of our sanitarians to receive education regarding proper maintenance to your system.
Finally you will receive notification that your application has been approved and you are a registered service provider. You may now perform service and inspections on your STS. Homeowner registration is required every year in which you will be inspecting your system. After inspecting your system, submit assessment details via your assessment report to UCHD. Any work performed on the STS must be reported to UCHD within 3 months. You can follow this link to learn more about the testing process.
Regardless of your service provider, please contact UCHD before any system changes are made (not including equipment repairs).
|Jim Cogar, RS
Phone: (937) 645-2041
|Holly J. Rast, RS
Phone: (937) 645-2043
Click here for a brochure of information
This grant will be awarded to households at 50%, 85%, and 100% of the total cost of replacing your septic system. The amount you qualify for is based on household income level. Click here to learn about the income levels eligble for grant money. If you know you have a problem with your system but do not have the funds to fix it, contact Holly Rast or Allison Zandarski for information on how to apply for this grant money!
Holly Rast Allison Zandarski
(937) 645-2043 (937) 645-2028
1. Is my system grandfathered in, making me exempt from the O&M program?
No. Every septic system in Union County will be in the O&M program by 2020. The O&M program will allow UCHD to pinpoint environmental hazards and stop them from polluting our environment. For this reason, along with the 2015 state-wide sewage rules mandating the O&M program, no system is exempt.
2. If my system is found to be broken during my assessment, will I have to replace my entire septic system?
Not necessarily. UCHD is prepared to work with you to salvage every system that needs repairs to work properly. Expensive repairs and replacements are last resorts and will be avoided at all cost. However, we are looking to prevent and eliminate environmental pollution. Septic systems that are failing and pose immediate harm to human health and the environment, will need to be addressed quickly.
3. When do I need to pay for my 2017-2019 O&M permit and how do I pay for it?
You will receive a bill in the mail in the fall of 2016 for your 2017-2019 permit. The bill will detail when your fee is due. You can pay by mail with a check or in our offices with a check, credit card, or cash.
4. How often will I be inspected?
How often you are inspected depends on the type of system you have. Click here to see the table of system types and how often each needs to be inspected during the 5 year permit.
5. Can I do my own O&M inspections?
Yes. However, you can only perform inspections on your primary residence and you must own the property. Renters may not perform inspections. You can learn more information about conducting your own inspections here.
6. If I buy a home will I have to purchase a new operation permit or will the current permit transfer?
The operation permit is connected to your septic system and stays with the septic system if you choose to move. If you buy a home that has an operation permit, you will not have to buy a new permit but will need to renew it every 5 years. Operation permits are renewed in years ending in 0 or 5, i.e. 2020, 2025.
7. What should I expect if I have an aerator that is on the current O&M Program?
You will be permited at the end of 2016 like all the other systems in Union County. This permit will cost $30. Beginning in 2017 you will be immediately transferred to the new O&M program and will continue to be inspected every year. If you choose to have UCHD inspect your system, the cost can be found here. You can learn more about other inspection options here.
8. How to receive a copy of my initial assessment report?
Send an email with the address of the property you are requesting the report of to EHcontact@uchd.net. Someone from our office will reply with a copy of your assessment report. You should receive a copy of your report within 1-2 business days.
9. How do I prepare for my initial assessment?
Your assessment will tell you the type of system you have and if you need to perform maintenance on the system. However, having some things done before hand can help your inspector determine system type and ensure that the system is working correctly.
-If you haven't in the last 5 years, you should have your septic tank pumped. Click here for a list of our registered sewage haulers.
-While not required, installing risers and lids on your system will allow your inspector to get a better look at your system and verify its physical and working condition (click here for a list of installers). If your system type or location cannot be identified during your assessment you will be placed in the most frequently inspected system type category and be inspected every year. (click here to see table) If you believe you have been placed in a different category than you should be please contact our office with your address and corrected system type at EHcontact@uchd.net
-Lastly, it is helpful to verify all the plumbing that goes to your septic system. Washing machines, toilets, and sink drains are all examples of what should be draining to your septic system. Sump pumps and water softeners are things that should NOT drain to your septic tank.
These are some of our staff that may be visiting your home for O&M assessments and inspections. Click on their pictures to learn more about them!
The Union County Health Department investigates complaints from our residents regarding many different public health issues. If you have a complaint concerning one of the areas listed below, please contact us by phone at (937) 642-2053 or submit the online nuisance complaint form provided below. Please be advised nuisance complaints are public record and are therefore subject to review or release to any requesting party. Nuisance complaints can be made anonymously or the complainant can provide his/her name. If a complainant provides his/her name, that information is included in the public record.
Public health nuisance complaints that can fall under the jurisdiction of the Union County Health Departmen include:
- Public Swimming Pools
- Solid Waste (such as tires, trash, etc)
Areas of public health concern that we can provide advice/guidance on, but no remediation:
- Bed Bugs
- General Pests
Everyone in Union County who has an aeration sewage treatment system is required by Ohio Administrative Code 3701-29-19, to either have a service contract with one of the approved aeration service companies or maintain a basic system assessment permit from the Union County Health Department (UCHD). If you choose to have a permit through UCHD, your system will be inspected once a year and you will be notified of the results. All approved aeration service providers are required to notify UCHD when an inspection is conducted and the results of the inspection. The approved aeration service companies are also required to notify UCHD of the beginning and ending dates of the service contract. When the service provider companies notify the UCHD a contract has not been renewed, that system is switched to the UCHD inspection program.
Maintenance of your aeration sewage treatment system depends on what type of system you have. If you are unsure of what type or brand of aeration system you have (for Union County, Ohio homeowners only), contact our office at (937) 642-2053 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The following is a list of common aeration sewage treatment systems in Union County and manufacturer information for each of those systems.
Multi-flo system information
Nayadic system information
Norweco (for systems installed on or after 2007)
Manufacturer's website - see system details on the right hand panel on the website
Norweco (for systems installed before 2007)
Manufacturer's website - see system details on the right hand panel on the website
These new statewide sewage rules have made it necessary for the Union County Health Department (UCHD) to expand its current Operation and Maintenance (O&M) program to include every septic system in Union County. To understand your responsibilities under the new 2015 sewage rules check out the O&M program page
Learn what you can expect during the O&M phase in period, fee information and more! Click here for more information.
What happens when you flush the toilet? Many people don’t know! Every time you flush the toilet or use water in any way in your home, you are generating wastewater. When wastewater leaves your home it needs to be treated before it re-enters the environment. Depending on the type of septic system or Sewage Treatment System (STS) you have your wastewater is treated naturally by the ground, with the help of special filter bed or by an aerator. To find out more about your system type and how it treats your wastewater follow this link to our septic system information page.
What you need to know
Sewage is the waste water released by residences, businesses and industries in a community. It is 99.94 percent water, only 0.06 percent of the water is dissolved and suspended solid material. The cloudiness of sewage is caused by suspended particles. Pathogens or disease-causing organisms are present in sewage. Coliform bacteria are used as an indicator of disease-causing organisms. Sewage also contains metals, minerals and nutrients (such as ammonia and phosphorus).
Private sewage systems are used by households not served by a centralized sewage system. This is accomplished by site evaluations, permits and inspections of new and altered systems, and the investigation of complaints/malfunctioning systems. Union County regulates private sewage systems in accordance with the local sewage treatment system rules, Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 3718, and the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) chapter 3701-29.
Public sewage systems are those systems where households are connected to a centralized sewerage system. Public systems are not regulated by the Health Department, but are governed by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA). However, in Union County, any commercial (or semi-public) sewage system smaller than 25,000 gallons per day is inspected by the Health Department, through a contract with the OEPA
Environmental Health Fee Schedule - see Section IV, C & D on page 2 for fees associated with household sewage systems
Installing a private sewage system?
Installing a private sewage system requires a permit from the Union County Health Department. There are several steps that must be completed before a permit can be obtained. Some of these steps include a site evaluation. A soil scientist must test the soil in which the system will be installed.
Once a permit is issued, installation must be done by a registered installer. Click here for a list of registered installers.
A soil scientist must test the soil in which the system will be installed. Click here for a list of local soil scientists.
Some repairs on existing systems must also be done by registered sewage installers.
EPA Grant Information
Union County Health Department was awarded a grant to fix and replace failing septic systems in Union County. If you know there is a problem with your system but do not have the funds to fix or replace it, contact Holly Rast for information on how to apply!
Private water systems provide potable water, which is water that is suitable for drinking. In the state of Ohio private water systems are regulated by OAC 3701-28. The most common water supply for a home not served by a public water system is a private well.The following are some other examples of private water systems:
- Hauled water storage tank
Clean water is essential to maintaining a healthy home. The EPA has put together a list of common contaminents found in private water sources and how they can affect human health. Click here to learn more about each contaminant and what kinds of human activities can pollute ground water.
If you install, alter, or seal a well in Union County you must obtain a permit from the Union County Health Department. Feel free to download and fill out this form prior to coming to the office. Forms are also available at the office. Please contact the health department at (937) 642-2053 for any questions you may have.
Anyone in the business of working on private water systems in Ohio must be registered with the Ohio Department of Health as a Private Water Systems Contractor. As of April, 1 2011, homeowners who wish to construct, alter or seal their private water systems are now required to register without the bonding requirement. For a complete list of all active contractors registered with the Ohio Department of Health visit the Wells and Private Water Systems page.
For more information on your well, search the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website.
According to the National Ground Water Association, here are some steps you can take to help protect your well:
- Wells should be checked and tested ANNUALLY for mechanical problems, cleanliness, and the presence of certain contaminants, such as coliform bacteria, nitrates/nitrites, and any other contaminants of local concern, (for example, arsenic and radon).
- Well water should be tested more than once a year if there are recurrent incidents of gastrointestinal illness among household members or visitors and/or a change in taste, odor, or appearance of the well water.
- All hazardous materials, such as paint, fertilizer, pesticides, and motor oil, should be kept far away from your well.
- When mixing chemicals, do not put the hose inside the mixing container, as this can siphon chemicals into a household’s water system.
- Consult a professional contractor to verify that there is proper separation between your well, home, waste systems, and chemical storage facilities.
- Always check the well cover or well cap to ensure it is intact. The top of the well should be at least one foot above the ground.
- Once your well has reached its serviceable life (usually at least 20 years), have a licensed or certified water well driller and pump installer decommission the existing well and construct a new well.
If you are concerned about the water from your well, contact the Union County Health Department at (937) 642-2053. We offer bacterial water tests for $60.89. Additional tests may be available for additional cost.
Employees (sanitarians) of the Union County Health Department are available to take water samples from private wells. The sanitarian will need access to a working spigot in order to draw water into a lab-approved sterilized container. Residents should not bring in samples themselves.
Interpretation of your results
The Ohio State University in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Health and Ohio EPA have developed an online assessment tool that offers instant water quality interpretation for Ohio residents.
Water samples are typically taken for real-estate transfers or when there is concern the well might be contaminated (such as after flooding).
- If you have a water softener it should be by-passed. Remove the well cap or the vent pipe or plug if the well is equipped with a sanitary well seal.
- Pour one gallon of household bleach (5.25% chlorine) directly into well.
- Connect a hose to a house spigot and run water directly into the well until chlorine odor is present in the water. Run the water this way for 15 minutes.
- Shut off water supply to hose and proceed to systematically open each water fixture in the house. Let water run through each fixture until chlorine odor is present. Include both cold and hot water valves.
- Close all valves and pour another one gallon of bleach directly into the well. Recap the well or replace the vent pipe or plug. Leave all valves closed for a period of 12 hours or longer (toilets may be flushed if needed.)
- Open the hose spigot and discharge water to ground surface or drainage ditch until chlorine odor disappears. Open every household fixture and let water run until the chlorine odor is gone.
- The well should now be properly disinfected.