REGION – Michigan has over 1.3 million on-site sewage systems. It is estimated that at least 10 percent of these have failed and more than a third of them are not working properly. When septic systems fail or are improperly maintained, they can leach harmful bacteria, nutrients, viruses, pharmaceuticals and other contaminants into drinking water wells and surface water, posing serious public health and environmental concerns. The effects of a failing sewage system can be particularly noticeable in the form of increased coastal vegetation and algae growth, which can make boating and swimming undesirable. It can also make swimming unsafe due to disease-causing bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other pathogens.
Michigan is the only state in the US that does not regulate septic systems at the state level. As a result, Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council is currently working with local partners on septic solutions with local governments to provide protection through local regulations. In the absence of government regulations, local governments have great opportunities to protect water quality and human health. To this end, Watershed Council staff are offering their expertise in a series of webinars in May and June, providing elected officials with tools to manage the health of septic systems. This is the first step in helping local governments pass wastewater treatment plant ordinances. Watershed Council staff are also available to make individual presentations to local communities interested in implementing septic regulations.
In addition, we are pleased to announce a series of new publications on septic management and regulation.
For local government we have developed a range of factsheets including:
- Summary of the septic question. A summary of septic regulation policy options for local governments to consider.
- Success Stories of Septic Regulation in Northern Michigan. Examples of local governments in Northern Michigan that have taken action to protect healthy drinking water, maintain high-quality surface water, and ensure the health of citizens through the passage of wastewater ordinances.
- What do homebuyers think of septic prescriptions? Survey results show that septic regulations are beneficial for both home sellers and buyers and help protect long-term investments.
We also have a free homeowner’s guide – Proper Septic System Maintenance – ready for distribution. The guide introduces homeowners to septic systems and provides simple tips on how to keep septic systems working properly.
For more information, contact Kacey Cook at (231) 347-1181 or [email protected]