Health Dept. can regulate small flow septic systems

LISBON – Working together with other officials, Health Commissioner Wesley Vins said they now have needed answers on how to proceed with regulating smaller businesses with septic systems in the county.

Vins said the regulations made it unclear how to handle small flow systems, those with less than 1,000 gallons of wastewater per day.

Vins thanked County Commissioner Timothy Weigle, Port Authority Executive Director Tracy Drake and Republican Chairman David Johnson with helping to get some needed answers.

Vins said a local restaurant has spent the past two years uncertain which entity, the local health department or the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency should be handling its situation. The owner of the restaurant was not getting answers and it was only once the health department, officials and others got involved that they were able to get a definitive answer.

The local health department is now able to regulate the small flow systems, similar to how they oversee homeowner septic systems.

Vins pointed out the issue was not just here, but a regional issue and hopefully now a precedent has been set, which will make it easier for other local small businesses.

“The EPA scope is big,” said Health Board member Shawn Apple, adding many of their requirements are too expensive for small business owners. “This allows someone falling under small flow coverage to fall under our department.”

In other matters before the board of health:

– Concerned about shortages of available tests for tuberculosis testing led to the health board setting a policy to conserve them. Currently, the health department keeps 50 tests available, should a family or classroom need tested after a possible case. But others are requesting tests too, including those who need to be tested before starting certain prescription drugs. Jails for instance often test for tuberculosis.

Nurse Barb Knee said other counties are starting the feel the shortages leading to people calling Columbiana County looking for additional tests. Knee said right now Columbiana County is able to order 10 additional tests every 35 days, but it is important to be careful.

“We are responsible for our own county,” pointed out Dave Rose, a member of the board. “What we are here for is taking care of our own.”

– The board hired an additional nurse, Karen Williams of Leetonia, at a rate of $3,033 per month.

– The board approved a septic system variance for Edward and Tamara Sabol, Lisbon Road, Lisbon, who wanted to put in a second septic system on their property so a second home would be available for an ailing family member.

– The board added Buckeye Community Health Plan and Paramount Advantage to the companies it can be reimbursed from through Medicaid.

– Rabies baiting will begin next week in Columbiana, Lisbon and East Palestine areas. Salem and East Liverpool areas will be handled by their own health departments. The county began rabies baiting in 1997.

While the baits are provided by the Ohio Division of Fish and Wildlife, Vins pointed out the costs of distributing them are no longer reimbursed so it is an expense the health department now pays for itself.