The Ravalli County Board of Health has been reviewing the county’s wastewater discharge permitting system for some time now and last fall began holding serious discussions on the subject. Those meetings have been primarily attended by a small number of real estate brokers and builders.
According to John Palacio, director of the county’s Environmental Health Department, a marathon meeting is scheduled to complete the final portion of the board’s review. The meeting is set for Wednesday, January 22 at 1 p.m. in the county commissioners’ meeting room in the Administration Building on 4th Street in Hamilton. Once the review is completed, Palacio hopes to have a final draft of proposed changes to the regulations completed by the second Wednesday in February, he said.
To date, according to Palacio, there are only two major changes under consideration. One would be to require a certification of the status of the septic system when any property changes ownership. The document which would be required for registering any change of ownership would certify that the property has an existing valid septic permit as well as verifying the specifics concerning the size of the septic system and the number of bedrooms in the dwelling.
Another thing that needs to be addressed, according to Palacio, is what to do once an unpermitted system is discovered.
Palacio said he hoped to have new regulations in place by this March.
Health Board member Roger DeHaan said that the changes under consideration are long overdue. He said it is not uncommon for properties to have homes that were built and permitted in the late 1980s that other subsequent owners have purchased and added to without getting a permit.
“We aren’t going to go around knocking on doors,” said DeHaan. But they are considering a potential remedy by requiring the realtor to get a certificate stating what system has been permitted.
“If the existing system doesn’t match what is permitted, then they have to be reconciled,” said DeHaan. He said they were basically looking at allowing a one-year period for bringing the system into compliance once a discrepancy has been discovered.
“My hope, having been on the Health Board for so long,” said DeHaan, “is to get this change adopted and get it well advertised so people can know what they are buying, and the sellers can know what they might need to do if they are looking to sell.”