2017-10-19 / Letters

Septic inspections needed to protect everyone’s property

To the editor:

I appreciate your Oct. 5 edition carrying two informative articles on septic system rules. Leelanau County lauds the beauty of its lakes and streams, yet our county commissioners do nothing to protect this valuable resource or the health of its citizens. My understanding is that a “point of sale” septic system inspection program will be on the agenda for the commissioners executive committee Nov. 14, 9 a.m., and full commission meeting Nov. 21, 7 p.m. Such a rule operates just like a home inspection prior to sale of a home. This inspection allows the buyer to be assured the septic system is functioning properly. If the inspection shows the system is faulty, the buyer can negotiate cost of repair or replacement of the septic system with the seller as part of the sale price. EPA estimates that the failure rate for septic systems ranges from 5% to 10%. Benzie County has identified numerous failures with its rule in place.

Opponents claim this is a property rights issue. This argument undermines the commissioners’ responsibility “….to set policy” to protect county residents and our water bodies, as recommended by its own health department. Down-gradient property owners have no protection against a failing septic system, absent this minimal inspection rule. Their well water may be contaminated by human wastes or nutrients (especially nitrogen which can reach harmful drinking water levels).

If you as a land owner want to assure your well is supplying you drinkable groundwater, or want our lakes and streams to remain pure and clean, I urge you to call or email your district commissioner before the two November meetings to support a “point-of-sale” septic rule. Better yet, appear in person at both of these meetings to tell commissioners that you want your well water and county lakes protected against failing septic systems.

Wayne Swallow
S. Lake Shore Drive

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