Onsite sewage system regulation along the Great Lakes and the US EPA "Homeowner Awareness" model

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According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), a significant percentage of residential onsite sewage systems (OSSs) are failing at any given time. The US EPA has therefore issued a set of recommended guidelines for OSS regulatory programs aimed at reducing overall failure rates. We conducted a survey of OSS regulatory program administrators with jurisdictions bordering a Great Lake. Our goal was to determine their programs' capacities to meet the US EPA's recommendalions. We found that although some local programs meet the US EPA's recommendations, most do not. In this article, we present our findings and conclusions for one of the US EPA's models, the baseline "Homeowner Awareness" model. Most areas do not have recommended requirements that systems be inspected when properties transfer between owners. A majority do not track changes in ownership within the computerized databases they use to record information about systems. Although most provide at least "one-time" information to homeowners regarding proper OSS maintenance, most do not contact them periodically with reminders of needed maintenance. We include recommendations for resolving some of the issues that our research identified. © 2006 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.

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Environmental Management