Manistee County Commissioners applauded for upholding water protection ordinance

The Manistee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday voted 5-1 to reject a proposal to repeal the Kalkaska point of sale septic inspection ordinance. Michigan Environmental Council applauds this vote as a major victory for residents concerned about failing septic systems contaminating water in the region. Over 100,000 failing septic systems in Michigan discharge an estimated 30 million gallons of sewage into our water everyday because Michigan does not have a comprehensive inspection system for septics. 

Michigan Environmental Council and partner organizations have been working for years to create a statewide septic code that will require the periodic testing and inspections of septic systems. Every other state in the nation has a statewide septic code, except the Great Lake State. Currently 11 counties in Michigan exercise some oversight of septics, including Kalkaska. Kalkaska County has a point of sale ordinance for their septic systems that requires septic systems to be inspected when a property is sold.  Because of this ordinance, residents of Kalkaska are less vulnerable to human waste loaded with pathogens like E.coli entering into their drinking water.

“We thank the Manistee County Board for valuing the importance of protecting our water by retaining Kalkaska's point of sale septic inspection program,” said Seth Phillips of the Manistee Lake Association.  “We look forward now to working with our county board and all local interests to craft improvements to make our program work better for everyone.”

Two Michigan counties with septic system inspection ordinances found 1,000 failed septic tanks and 300 homes without any septic system within the first six years of implementing their ordinances.

“This vote is a victory for clean water,” said Dave Dempsey, FLOW senior policy advisor. “Failing septic systems are one of the biggest sources of water pollution in rural Michigan.  We need to strengthen protections from septic system pollution with common sense measures rather than repealing them.”

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