At the Dec. 21 Barry-Eaton District Health Department’s Board of Health meeting, the board continued its discussions on revising the time of sale or transfer (TOST) program in response to constituent feedback, according to a health department news release update.
Barry County Commissioners Ben Geiger, David Jackson and Dan Parker and Eaton County Commissioners Joe Brehler, Blake Mulder, and Jane Whitacre are Board of Health members.
The board has been working with health department staff to make changes to the regulation since November. While progress is being made to address many of the key concerns about the program, Health Officer Colette Scrimger reviewed the existing state laws applicable to onsite septic and water systems that require local health department action, the update read.
“Everyone has to have an approved system, and while state and local laws are set up that way, there are no state laws that provide a method to find critical problems,” she said. “For example, if the health department discovers that a sewage system doesn’t exist, and a residence is discharging sewage illegally, the health department takes action to assure the sewage system is installed,” Scrimger said.
“However, many counties who do not have a TOST program do not have a process to find out if the system that was originally installed is still functional, or even if there is one there at all.”
According to the TOST 10-year report, the percentage of wells with problems requiring correction was about two in 10 sites, and about 2.5 sites out of 10 sites had problems requiring correction in their sewage system, she said.
Scrimger reviewed the key objectives that a public health-based sewage and water program is addressing:
1) Assure that state and local laws relating to sewage and water systems are being followed,
2) have a process in place to evaluate aging infrastructure,
3) assure that systems continue to function as intended,
4) standardize evaluations, so that buyers and sellers can be assured that they receive accurate information about their systems and,
5) education on the importance of maintaining on-site sewage and water systems.
The TOST program’s overall purpose is to protect public health and the environment. There was general consensus from the board members that these were important goals that should be retained, Scrimger said. She recommended that changes to the regulation be evaluated to see if they would be supportive of those goals, the update read. //
Board members reviewed and discussed potential changes to the regulation and will continue their discussions about a revised regulation at the next meeting in January, according to the news release. “As we continue to evaluate changes to the TOST program, it’s important that we assure that we are still protecting the public health and the environment of our counties,” Geiger said.
“I think it’s critical to know that Eaton County is willing to work on this, and it’s important,” Mulder said. “It should not detract from the relationship between our two counties, and the rest of the important work that the health department is doing.”
“Recent work on TOST is in addition to the continual response of the health department to public concerns. In September 2015, TOST improvements were made in several program areas, including communications, the decision appeal process, correction options, evaluation criteria, and evaluation categories,” the update continued. “Further, in September 2017, the health department released the TOST 10-Year Report, which outlines the purpose of the program, its successes (including data analyses), and changes made to it since its inception,” it concluded.
TOST reports are available at https://goo.gl/SZCVMw.
Board of Health meeting minutes and agendas are available at https://www.barryeatonhealth.org/about-us/board-health.