Thursday, September 18, 2014

Septic System Problems Haunt Chardon Township Community
July 17, 2014 by Ann Wishart | No Comments

As many as 80 homes in an older Chardon Township neighborhood may be affected by bacteria sampling done in April showing high levels of E.…

As many as 80 homes in an older Chardon Township neighborhood may be affected by bacteria sampling done in April showing high levels of E. coli in the ditches.

Geauga County Department of Water Services Director Doug Bowen told county commissioners last Thursday Chardon Township Road Department personnel were digging out ditches along Henning Road when they noticed a foul odor.

Subsequent Ohio Environ-mental Protection Agency testing revealed samples collected from several homes along Henning — one on Thwing and another at the east branch of the Chagrin River — showed E. coli counts exceeding the EPA minimum allowance by thousands of bacteria per 100 ml of a sample, according to a memo from the OEPA.

One test on Henning came back with 1.1 million E. coli per 100 ml of water in the morning and 620,000 E. coli per 620,000 a few hours later, according to the results Bowen distributed.

If a test shows 576 E. coli per 100 ml, a public health nuisance is documented, the test results note.

The situation is still in the early stages, said Gerard Morgan, sanitary engineer. It will be up to the Geauga County Health District and the OEPA to decide the next course of action.

Possibilities include requiring those property owners whose septic systems don’t meet state regulations to update their systems, Morgan said.

The state may also recommend building a wastewater treatment plant and installing pipes throughout the community, he said.

Morgan said most of the houses in that area were built a long time ago on an acre or less, adding it is possible the leach beds connected to their septic systems are clogged up so the home’s sewage is going straight to the ditch.

Commissioner Blake Rear said the regulations for septic systems were not as stringent when those homes were built as they are today.

“We need to be transparent about this from the beginning,” said Commissioner Ralph Spidalieri. “Every-body has to work together.”

He recommended a public hearing be held to inform residents and address the concerns of the community.

Any rulings from the state are likely to affect homeowners financially, said Commissioner Mary Samide.

Bowen said he expects a letter this summer from the Columbus office of the OEPA recommending a course of action. He said it is likely the area will need to be on a wastewater treatment plant, like Parkman and Thompson township downtown areas.

“The Columbus EPA could come back with a different decision,” he said, adding, however, based on testing, it is not likely.

In other business, Bowen announced he will be retiring as director of the department within the year and recommended succession planning begin.

When he took the job five years ago, Bowen said he also took on the sanitary engineer’s position.

Last Thursday, he asked commissioners to promote Morgan to that position effective July 20, a resolution the commissioners passed unanimously.

They also approved the hiring of Laura Weber to the position of design engineer effective Aug. 4. Weber has worked for the OEPA and lives in Geauga County, Bowen said.

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