Leelanau Co. Panel Discussion Explores Septic Systems’ Impact On Local Water

A full room Wednesday for a discussion on off all things septic systems in Leelanau County.

Michigan is the only state that doesn’t have a universal standard for septic systems.

People in Leelanau County are concerned about the harm faulty systems could do to the environment.

“If it affects everyone’s water it is everybody’s business.”

For more than 10 years, people have asked the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners to adopt a state of sale ordinance. It’s an ordinance adopted in Glen Arbor, Empire and Benzie counties.

Environmental health director for Benzie and Leelanau District Health Department, Tom Fountain explains what a state of sale ordinance is. “The requirement that septic systems and wells are inspected prior to transferring the property to a new owner for determining if the septic system are working properly when it comes to public health and environmental health.”

Even the recommendation to form a study committee failed.

The League of Women Voters along with Leelanau Clean Water felt a panel would help the community better understand the topic.

Tricia Denton is on the local LWV chapter’s energy and natural resource committee and says they strategically organized this panel. “Someone from the septic pumping field, our health department director for environmental health, and somebody who is part of a lake association. This is a really critical issue for lake property owners in particular because they’re living on the water.”

That way it’s up to the community to tell their commissioners whether it’s important or not.

County commissioner for District 4, Ty Wessell who recommended the study committee says, “Some of the reasons it’s been defeated is because they don’t believe it’s a county responsibility some believe it’s not a problem.”

Denton says, “We had a packed house, it’s clear to me that this is an issue that people want more information on. They want to come up with a community solution that’s fair and that meets everybody’s needs.

September 18-22 is Septic Smart Week in Michigan.

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