SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECTION PROGRAM
The 2012 Legislative Session passed HB1263. This bill repealed the statewide septic system inspection program passed in 2010, and replaced it with a comprehensive, voluntary inspection program all counties and municipalities can adopt. The program is designed to provide a state-wide guideline for how the inspections will be conducted. It adopts a pass/fail criteria and repair standards that protect homeowners from unnecessary and costly mandates. The bill prohibits the Department of Health, Bureau of Onsite Sewage from passing additional rules governing inspections. This summary highlights the three areas of impact – county, homeowner, and the septic system itself.
COUNTY OR MUNICIPALITY OR MUNICIPALITY OR MUNICIPALITY
- Counties with First Magnitude Springs are automatically included in the program, but may opt out of the program with a 60% majority vote of the elected officials of a county or municipality.
- Counties or Municipalities without a First Magnitude Spring may participate in the inspection program by adopting an inspection ordinance.
- Counties and Municipalities may apply the ordinance in all or part of their jurisdiction, and may cancel participation at any time.
- No government entity may require an engineered performance system before the Nitrogen Reduction Strategies Study is completed.
- No government entity may require an engineered performance system that reduces nutrients as a repair for a failing conventional system.
- Dept. of Health, Bureau of Onsite Sewage may not adopt rules governing inspections.
- County sets a fee to cover costs of administering the inspection program
- Inspection and mandatory pump-out every five years
- Visual inspection of tank and drainfield
- Homeowner must be provided with a copy of inspection signed by authorized contractor
- Homeowner may or may not use inspecting contractor to repair a system
- Anticipated cost is $500-$700 per inspection, including contractor fee, pump out and county fees.
- No point of sale inspection is allowed unless the prospective buyer or financing entity requests one.
- Permit to own and operate a septic system transfers with title
- No modification/re-sizing of a septic system is necessary as a result of an inspection.
- A system may be modified/re-sized if a bedroom is added to the original structure. “Bedroom” is carefully defined in statute.
- Lots with one acre per bedroom are exempt from inspections
- Only the county can levy a fine against the homeowner for non-compliance with an inspection ordinance
SEPTIC SYSTEM SEPTIC SYSTEM PASS/FAIL
- Tank is not watertight
- Effluent is evident on ground surface
- Septic system discharges directly into a water body
- Effluent is backing up into the home as a result of a blockage and presents a sanitary nuisance
- No soil testing for separation from the high water table is allowed during a normal inspection. Soil testing is allowed if the system is judged to be failing and must be repaired to meet current code.
- Homeowner can request inspection of pumps, siphons, and alarms, but is not required. If declined, the homeowner must sign a disclaimer to protect contractor from future liability