2018-02-01 / Front Page

Septic meeting draws big, receptive crowd

But no action taken
By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff


WASTE HAULER Jim Houdek of Houdek Pumping in Lake Leelanau, presents his thoughts about septic regulations to the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners and more than 50 others in attendance during a committee meeting Tuesday morning. WASTE HAULER Jim Houdek of Houdek Pumping in Lake Leelanau, presents his thoughts about septic regulations to the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners and more than 50 others in attendance during a committee meeting Tuesday morning. Following a seven-hour meeting Tuesday dealing only with septic systems, the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners made no decision on whether property owners should be subject to a countywide septic inspection ordinance.

The meeting was popular if not decisive. Cars filled the parking lot at the County Government Center and more 50 people attended.

The special “committee of the whole” meeting of the County Board was for “informational purposes only,” explained District No. 3 Commissioner Will Bunek, the County Board Chairman.

He said the board will likely take up the subject of septic systems again at its regular monthly executive meeting on Feb. 13.

Commissioners and residents heard presentations from no less than seven “expert witnesses” on the topic starting at 9 a.m. Bunek said he was impressed that a substantial majority of audience members remained through most of the meeting, with 10 of them waiting until the end around 3:30 p.m., to offer their comments.

Public comment offered at many other meetings in recent months has trended in favor of the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners authorizing the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department to draft and adopt a septic inspection ordinance similar to one that has been in place in neighboring Benzie County for many years.

Bunek said one issue that came up repeatedly during briefings presented by the need to tie water well and septic system inspections.

“We really hadn’t discussed the issue of water wells very much before in connection with septic systems,” Bunek said. “So, I think we gained some new insight about that at this meeting.”

“Any ongoing inspection ordinance should include the drinking water supply,” said Tom Fountain of the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department, who presented one of the briefings. “Like septic systems, water supply systems are not properly maintained, and many people are consuming contaminated water."

Health department officials estimated that there are more than 8,000 private well and septic systems currently in use in Leelanau County.

Those in attendance also heard from Rob Karner of the county-sponsored Leelanau Clean Water organization, which represents several county lake associations and other groups.

Briefings were also presented by Christine Crissman of the Watershed Center, Grand Traverse Bay; local septage waste hauler Jim Houdek of Lake Leelanau; and Scott Kendziorski of the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council and the Health Department of Northwest Michigan.

Bunek said he and the County Board were especially grateful to hear presentations from Michigan State University professor Dr. Joan Rose and Regina Young of the Barry-Eaton District Health Department. Both traveled many hours — from East Lansing and the Kalamazoo area respectively — to participate in this week’s meeting.

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Michigan is the ONLY state in

Michigan is the ONLY state in the NATION that does not have septic tank inspection regulations and SOME, not all, of the County Commissioners continue to block common-sense minimal "point of sale" inspections. I guess they want to wait until our water sources are contaminated before someone else does their job for them. Some of these people need to be voted out of office. It is their job to protect the beautiful place we live and they continue to fail the test. Shameful!