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E-M:/ UP Septic Systems

Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <ajs@sagady.com>

 From Centers for Disease Control Environmental LIst....

Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2000 15:32:06 GMT
Reply-To: CEH - Environmental Health General 
Sender: CEH - Environmental Health General 
From: Doug Peterson/dmdhd <dpeterson@DMDHD.LOCALHEALTH.NET>
Subject: On-site sewage disposal: 'existing' dwelling

Our environmental health department in rural northern Michigan denies many
on-site sewage construction permit applications due to unsuitable soil and
near surface karst bedrock conditions. Our local sanitary code requires
48" vertical isolation between the bottom of the absorption field (stone)
and any limiting layer (SWT, bedrock, clay, etc). If 24" of aerated
natural soils exist on the site we will allow placement of fill material in
order to satisfy minimum isolation. Because of these limitation we deny
approximately 10 - 15 percent of all construction applications.
However, we do get a number of requests to use an existing on-site sewage
system (general very substandard) connected to a dilapidated or rundown
dwelling in an attempt to circumvent our sanitary code. Generally the
dwelling in question is in very poor repair and has not been used in many
years. The on-site sewage system may only consist of buried 55-gallon
drum with some stone. Sometimes the premise is located on high value lake
shore, but the conditions do not meet our guidelines. Extensive
remodeling to the old building general starts immediately.
Our code will not allow new use without health department approval of the
sewage system. However the developer contents the old structure is not a
new use but is an existing use and should be 'grandfathered'. We have
been successful so far in preventing use of these substandard systems, but
I am not sure what legal cover we really have. New use is defined as an
increase in the number of bedrooms in the dwelling - many old farmhouses
have four or more bedrooms,, but do not have good soils or suitable on-site
My question is: How do you deal with substandard on-site sewage disposal
systems connected to a dilapidated dwelling which may not even have been
liven in for a number of years? Do you have policy or Code language?
Have you been challenged in an appeal hear or court?
Any comments or suggestions on how we can develop procedures to deal with
this will be much appreciated.
Douglas Peterson
Director of Environmental Health
Delta Menominee Dist Health Dept
Escanaba, MI
906 789-8133

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