On July 1. 2020 a new version of the Onsite Wastewater Disposal System Ordinance became effective. There are two major changes to this ordinance; there is no longer a 3-acre exemption and installers must carry a $20,000.00 bond. So, what does this mean?
Before this ordinance was enacted all properties in Pike County were required to follow the state requirements when designing and installing a new onsite wastewater treatment systems. However, only commercial properties and properties under 3-acres were required to have a permit and inspection by the Health Department. The new law requires all property owners, regardless of property size, to have a permit and inspection from the health department. The additional cost to citizens incurred will be $115.00 (for the permit) for property owners with MORE than three acres; there is no additional cost to property owners of under 3 acres, they have always paid the permit fee. All property owners have always been required to follow the state and county guidelines for septic installation, however, there was no oversite for properties larger than 3-acres. By removing this exemption to oversite, we are better protecting all our property owners and the environment regardless of lot size.
Existing systems, that are functioning properly, will be allowed to continue without permit or inspection. Only if that system needs major repair, replacement, or has a substantiated complaint about it, will it be required to have a permit and inspection from the Health Department.
The second major change is septic system installers are now required to carry a $20,000.00 (twenty thousand dollars) bond rather than a $10,000.00 (ten thousand dollar) bond. This is because the new advanced systems usually cost more than $10,000.00. Increasing this bond amount better protects our citizens, if that bond needs to be accessed there is enough money to replace the system.
This new ordinance represents the first time that the septic code in Pike County has been updated since 2001. In 2001 the Pike County Commissioners delegated the authority for septic system over site and code implementation to the Pike County Health Board, this authority is allowed through Chapter 198 RSMo and then in 2004 relinquished to the Pike County Health Department their authority of enforcement. In the past 19 years no changes were made to the ordinance. The Pike County Health Board is made up of elected officials. They hold final approval for changes to this ordinance and are tasked with protecting public health. Appropriate septic systems, that properly treat human waste are an important step in protecting public health and property values.
At the time of this change Pike and Lincoln Counties were the only counties in our area that allowed any exemption to the permit/inspection section of the law. Lincoln County allows for properties of over 40 acres to install without a permit, however it is still required to be an appropriate system. Allowing for this exemption was negatively impacting our citizens. Many bank loans are requiring proof of an appropriate septic system and without a permit/inspection there is no proof. When there is no proof, the next step is to hire a septic system inspector and try to find the system to prove that it is appropriate. Citizens are also having trouble re-financing without proof of an appropriate system.
A $115.00 permit fee for all property owners regardless of their property size is now required. Previously, all property owners had been required to install an appropriate system but those with 3 acres or more did not require an inspection to ensure a proper system was being installed. With this fee comes the proof many financial institutions are requiring. This proof, in the form of an inspection report and all additional system information, is required to be kept as records at the Health Department for the next 100 years and so will be available for our citizens.
These two changes: removing the 3-acre exemption and increasing the installers bond are important to protect public health and Pike County property values. If you have additional questions or concerns with this matter please contact Stefanie Davis, Environmentalist, Pike County Health Department at 573-470-1541 x113
The new ordinance can be found here on our website.