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Septic Tanks Now Regulated And Monitored By EPA

epa septic tank

Image source: darrscleaning.com

Homeowners in one Midwest state now have to get a permit from the Environmental Protection Agency if they want to install a septic system, a regulation that involves paperwork, government oversight and potentially hundreds of dollars – and it’s not the only state with a permit system.

As of Feb. 10, homeowners in Illinois must get what is called a “general permit” to install a septic tank, the EPA told Off The Grid News. The new regulation will affect any septic system that could discharge water that potentially would end up in a stream, contractor Joe Dreyer told The Quincy Herald-Whig. Dreyer said the regulations even will affect septic systems that empty into a dry creek bed that is miles away from a larger body of water.

The EPA website says the new regulation “sets discharge limits and requires periodic inspection, monitoring and reporting” by the government so as to comply with the Clean Water Act. In determining whether a septic tank permit is required, the EPA said homeowners should ask: Would water in my ditch end up in a stream?

Previously, only commercial buildings required such a permit.

“What’s happened is that they’re trying to do away with surface discharge, because (the EPA is) saying it’s polluting our waters,” Dreyer said. “What the EPA tries to say is if we get a six-inch rain, it’s going to reach waters of the United States, but it’s going to be so diluted that it doesn’t really matter.”

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Cost of a Septic System Will Increase

The EPA could not tell Off The Grid News how many other states have similar restrictions, although at least one – Ohio – does. In that state, the agency serves in more of a “guidance” role as the state itself issues the permits, the EPA said. One in four homes in the US has a septic tank.

The septic tanks that are the target of the EPA empty liquids into the ground. Residents could avoid EPA hassle by getting a non-discharge system that is fully contained, but they cost 25-30 percent more, Dreyer said. It’s also possible the EPA will require such an expensive system.

Another way the regulations will increase costs is by mandating soil and chemical testing that will cost hundreds of dollars in expense even before a permit is considered, Dreyer said.

The regulations only affect those constructing new homes but could eventually impact anyone replacing a septic tank.

Tony Dede of the Adams County (Illinois) Health Department told the newspaper the mandate requires news homes to follow the same standards previously imposed on large commercial buildings and apartment houses.

“If anybody is building a house, I recommend they call us first before scooping up a single shovel of dirt,” Dede said.

Regulations will Affect All Septic Systems at Some Point

The regulations will eventually impact owners of existing homes, when they repair or replace septic tanks.

“If you already have a home that’s on a septic system, protect it at all costs,” Dede advised homeowners. “Do every bit of maintenance that you can to keep the system in the best shape possible.”

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8 comments

  1. and yet, the epa lets Monsanto release glyphosate into the air,

  2. shit in a bag and throw it at the epa office

    • Don’t throw it at the office, wait for someone going in wearing their name tag and set it right in front of the door and set it on fire. Hopefully they will stomp on it to put it out.

  3. This is how it has been for a number of years in Minnesota. I don’t understand how they can’t say what other states have similar restrictions? Rubbish. We can’t even install a new window in Minnesota without FIRST having to update your septic system, which runs between $10,000 and $15,000 with the crazy regulations here. You can’t even legally have an outhouse! Which seems insane to me as cows, horses, birds, chickens, deer, insects, etc seem to have crapped all over the world for millions of years and has done nothing but put back what was taken in the first place.

  4. Use a big hole. don’t put one in at all…just don’t do it in a ditch… :) kidding. Jeez if the EPA only knew what we did in Nam they would wet themselves…

    • Lot of people got sick in Nam. If it wasn’t from the nasty water or formaldehyde in the beer it was the left over Korean war “C-Rats” we had to eat.

  5. I’m going to take the “BUT” side on this issue. I agree that the government over reaches its authority on most of what it tries to regulate. And some of the regulations on this issue are just stupid and serve no other purpose than to collect money and not have to call it a tax, but septic systems need to be constructed to a code appropriate for where they’re built. I think it’s unfortunate that some states have shirked they’re responsibility and bowed down to the mighty EPA on this. BUT, I have personally lived through the pain and discomfort of drinking contaminated water. A small town near where I live gets its water from a mountain creek and used what would normally be adequate filtration and by community choice minimal chlorination. A group of people, back then we called them hippies, bought a piece of property up stream and promptly built outhouses on the bank of the creek. They bathed and did laundry in the creek, when they bothered to bathe. I don’t know if those people were just filthy and crude or just uneducated but they made and entire community sick by their actions. Think of how filthy some of the worlds major rivers like Chicago’s East river, the Hudson in New York, the Thames in England or the Seine in France were because of the concentrated human waste dumped into them. I hope that Off the Griders that decide to forgo the permit process still research and follow the codes just because it’s the right thing to do. BK above mentions that animals have been crapping all over the world for millions of years. I was raised on a dairy farm and we never drank the water down stream from the cow lot. I’ve spent my life hunting and camping in the mountains. When the sheep herders bring their flocks through the area you don’t drink the creek water. Can you say giardia? And even with wildlife you always drink from deep fast moving water or from springs right out of the hillside, never standing water. Waste treatment is something everyone that want’s to live off the grid should be concerned about.

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