Deployment of new septic rules on January 1 | News, Sports, Jobs

Colton Masters, Director of Environmental Health for the Mahoning County Health Department, explains the new domestic wastewater treatment system operation and maintenance program that will affect all septic system owners in the county by 2022. The slide in the photo explains some of the reasons for the new program. There will be a charge for the service …. Staff photo / Ed Runyan

AUSTINTOWN – The county health department will begin rolling out new requirements for all septic system owners in Mahoning County on January 1.

Colton Masters of Mahoning County Public Health, formerly known as Mahoning County Board of Health, knows the news is of potential concern to the 17,000 county owners with septic tanks, who accept and treat

domestic wastewater in areas without a sewage system.

“I know not all people will be happy,” he said.

Costs ranging from $ 30 to $ 125 per year are associated with the program. Other costs, such as those for pumping septic tanks, are also possible.

But Masters told Mahoning County public health officials last week that septic tank owners should also consider that the new home septic treatment system operation and maintenance schedule could prevent them from having to pay much more.

“Yes, there are costs associated with it. That’s what people are going to focus on mainly, but they have to look beyond that, ”he said. “I need them to see more than these fees. There are real benefits not only for the community, but for the people involved in it. “

One benefit to the user is that the system “will last longer if you take care of it.” A lot of people don’t know what kind of system they have, let alone how to deal with it, ”he said.

Benefits to the community include fewer septic systems failing with each homeowner under the program. He said failing septic systems “can be a bit of a problem for us, not just here in Mahoning County, but all over Ohio due to the age of the systems.

“They don’t last forever. So that’s how we’re going to find more, which means cleaner surface waters. We will clarify this so that we do not have as many contaminants in the surface water. “

The county is charging a fee through the new program for expenses related to its operation.

For example, just sending all notifications to septic tank owners will cost around $ 100,000 per year, Masters said. Other county costs include hiring a clerk to dispatch the shipments and increasing staff to perform tasks such as inspections, testing, and answering questions.


In a presentation, Masters showed the yard of a house with a failing septic tank. The ground showed dark, damp areas where the “effluent,” which is sewage from the septic tank, was not adequately treated and rose to the surface.

It is the same substance that sometimes travels from the septic tank to streams, ditches and other water sources and causes contamination.

“Sometimes this sludge is dumped into a stream, a stream. It will make its way into a water source, ”he said.

Masters scheduled two public hearings last week, one in Springfield Township and one at the Mahoning County Technical and Vocational Center in Canfield – but no one attended either session. Masters said additional outreach would be organized to publicize the program, which is mandated by Ohio law for every county in the state.

“The board of health is mandated to do this,” Mahoning County health commissioner Ryan Tekac told the board during the Masters presentation. “It has to be in place. Tekac was involved in planning the rollout of the new program when he was director of environmental health before becoming health commissioner two years ago. Masters is now the Director of Environmental Health.


The new program will run in four phases throughout 2022, starting with the four northern level townships – Austintown, Jackson, Milton and Coitsville – as well as for a small number of septic tank owners in Youngstown, Struthers and Campbell. They will begin receiving mail notifications from the health department shortly after January 1 regarding the program.

Each owner will have 30 days to respond to the shipment and submit payment. Other measures are in place, such as certified letters and late fees.

Deployment will begin April 1 for the townships of Boardman, Canfield, Poland and Ellsworth. On July 1, it will be deployed in the cantons of Berlin, Smith, Goshen and Green. The last two townships on October 1 will be Beaver and Springfield, the two townships with the most septic systems, 2,018 and 2,072, respectively.

Canfield Township is third at 1,826; Smith is fourth at 1,474; and Austintown is fifth with 1,442 points. Youngstown has only 26, but the health department also manages these systems, in agreement with the city. Boardman Township only has 59, according to the Masters presentation.


There are three types of septic systems under the rules, and the cost will be $ 30 per year for the typical type of leach field septic system, which is the most common type. This type of system costs $ 90 once every three years, plus the cost of pumping a tank, which is recommended every three to five years and costs around $ 300 each time, Masters said.

The second level is for systems with more mechanical parts and costs $ 40 per year and requires the owner to perform routine maintenance.

The third level is for more sophisticated systems that discharge wastewater out of owners’ property, such as into a ditch. These already require an annual test to ensure that it does not discharge contaminated water into streams and other water sources. If they are functioning properly, the discharged water is “as clean or cleaner than rainwater,” Masters said.

The cost for this type of system is $ 125 per year. Its cost is higher because it requires annual tests. The county will conduct the testing for a fee of $ 125. County health will take the sample, perform the tests and provide the results.

Masters said a big part of setting up the O&M program is educating septic system owners about how their system works and what is needed to maintain it.

“I’ve spoken to a lot of people, even in my own family, who have no idea where their washfield is,” Masters said. “I grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere, so you were driving all over the yard,” he said.

“So where is your leachate field?” I do not know. It’s a problem, ”he said.


As part of the O&M program, homeowners will have the opportunity to speak to septic pumps to discuss the steps they should take to extend the life of their septic system and help it perform better. . “This will help the owner in the long run,” Masters said.

“Systems don’t come cheap, so if you can get an extra five or six years out of the system, that’s a huge investment in that area,” Masters said. The lifespan of a “general septic tank leach” system is about 20 to 30 years “if you maintain it,” Masters said.

He said the health department receives calls from unhappy people if they find out their 10-year-old septic system is not working properly. He said one of the keys to avoiding this is to periodically drain the septic tanks.

Tekac said his grandparents lived on a farm in Coitsville Township and hadn’t had him pumped for some time, so he convinced his grandparents to do so. He said the system was clogged with solids in the tank. Her aunt and uncle then moved into her grandparents’ house – and they still use the same system today.

“But they pump it out every year,” he said. “This system is probably over 30 years old. If you keep the system going, it will last.

The law requires every county system to participate in the system, Masters said. The county has files documenting most of the county systems, so they will immediately be part of the shipments.

“That’s not to say we know all of the county systems,” Masters said. “This means that when we find them and inventory them or inspect them or examine them, they also have to be built into that. “

When a home is sold, it triggers a septic tank inspection, he said.

“Mahoning County has just over 17,000 systems that we are aware of,” Masters said. “With this program, we will find systems that we did not know existed. If you go back 40 to 50 years, there was no regulation on them. We know that a lot of people have run straight pipes to the ditch or to a stream, and that is what we will continue to find. At the moment, the engineer’s office finds them regularly. They call us all the time about it, ”he said.

Masters said one way to look at the cost of the new program is to compare it to a sewage system.

The cost of sewerage is around $ 1,600 per year, but he estimates the total cost to operate the most common type of septic system in the county under the new program is $ 146 per year. Part of that calculation is the cost of pumping the tanks.

He said the cost of replacing the septic tank if it breaks down because it isn’t maintained could be $ 20,000, so maintaining it now could be a big savings.

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