The new program has increased business but angered some News, sports, jobs

From ED RUNYAN

Personal writer

Mahoning County’s new septic system operation and maintenance program has led to more work for Quaker City Concrete Products from Leetonia.

Jeff Faust, owner and general manager of Quaker City, said the company has done 15 to 20 percent more work on servicing septic tanks in Mahoneing County this year than usual.

Quaker City does not install septic systems or pump septic tanks, but supplies tanks and other materials used by septic installers to place in a system. Quaker City also visits customers’ homes twice a year to help homeowners maintain their septic systems.

“Just like in your car, you have to change your oil in it. “If you don’t change your oil, it will spoil,” he said.

One of the maintenance elements that the company often turns to are aerators, which are engines that push air and oxygen into a septic system to increase natural bacterial activity and provide additional treatment for the wastewater produced by a household.

The aerators work together with large filters that must be serviced every six months, Fust said. “It’s basically to make sure the aeration works and the filter is clean,” Fust said.

During a recent visit to a customer, two workers removed a large round filter from one of the three concrete holes in a septic system and replaced it with a clean one. The dirty filter was loaded on the truck to be cleaned and used later.

Some septic system owners have not serviced their system for decades, so an initial visit from Quaker City may include additional maintenance or replacement parts, Fust said. In some cases, the entire system needs to be replaced.

“Some of the customer calls we receive are about systems that have been in the ground since 1975, 1978,” Fust said. Even systems like this are part of the county’s new operation and maintenance program, Fust said.

Colton Masters, the county’s director of environmental protection, said it was true that many systems would require annual maintenance from a company like Quaker City – but not all.

Systems with motors and electrical connections need regular maintenance, but septic systems that do not have aerators and other types of motors and systems and only have a septic tank and leaching field do not require a maintenance contract with a service provider, Masters said.

“These are the ones we say people have to get someone to pump once every three years,” Masters said. “The annual contract is to ensure that all these electrical components continue to operate actively.”

Masters said there are 17,000 septic systems in Mahoney County.

Fust said Quaker City charges between $ 250 and $ 350 a year for a septic service contract, depending on the type of system the owner has and how long it has been since the system was serviced. The annual service fee is for two service calls per year.

“Then they still have to buy the parts they need to get it back (to the standard). So they can ask for $ 1,000 to get it back where it needs to be, ”Faust said of an initial visit.

Some septic systems have other components that may need to be serviced, such as ultraviolet light and chlorination systems.

LIKE NEW

Fust said that the job of Quaker City, when it made its first visit to a septic system, was to repair it so that it would return almost to the level when it was new.

“If it was designed, say, in 1975, that’s how we should do it,” Fust said. “Sometimes the health department will say you have to upgrade it a bit to get something more. That’s the decision of the health department. “

After registering the Mahoning County Public Health System, the homeowner contacted a service provider to come to the home. This means that a service provider such as Quaker City checks the system or a pump pumps the sludge from the septic tank.

Masters said the service provider then filled out a report on the state of the system and gave a copy to the homeowner and the health department.

“If this shows that there is a problem with the system, then we are sending our paramedics,” Masters said. “We are not in favor of any kind of law enforcement inspection. We will now go to make substantive on-the-spot checks for them to make sure they are reported accurately, ”Masters said.

It also protects the homeowner to make sure the services they pay for are performed, he said.

Fust said that the health department “will tell us (the septic system) needs a new motor, it needs a filter, it needs chlorine, it needs (ultraviolet disinfection system).”

A chlorination system feeds chlorine into wastewater to kill pathogenic bacteria and reduce odor, according to a 1998 US EPA data sheet. “Properly done, chlorination will kill more than 99 percent of harmful bacteria” in domestic wastewater. Ultraviolet light is an alternative to chlorination, according to the information sheet.

Masters said some of the most modern septic systems require treatment that uses UV light or a chlorinator.

Fust said some customers entering the new Mahoning County operation and maintenance program are unhappy with the requirement to take additional steps to manage their septic systems. Some believe the costs are too high, he said.

“There are some parts of the county that don’t have money,” Fust said. So far, Columbiana County, where Fust lives, has not implemented a new septic program, he said.

“It’s hard for them to say, ‘If you have an aeration system, I’m now charging you an extra $ 200 or $ 300 a year that you’re not used to paying, plus the fee that goes to the health department,'” Fust said.

Masters said the amount the property owner pays to the county health department is between $ 30 and $ 125 a year, depending on the type of system.

Fust said he believes the goal of the new program is to identify systems that are not working properly and put them in order. Masters added that another reason for the new operation and maintenance program is for septic systems to last longer.

“I’m sure the pumps are getting more work,” Fust said, adding that the health department “says that even if your system was installed in 1950, we still want a pump report to see what condition it is in.” . ”

Masters said the main information the service provider is expected to give to the health department is the condition of the tank. “If they notice other problems, they will report them as well.” Service providers and pumps have been asked to check for a “pond” of water near a septic system that may indicate a problem with the septic system, Teachers said.

Fust said the pumps were asked to watch for problems that could suggest a problem with the septic system, putting the pumps in a difficult position.

It was routine for pumps to advise their customers if something in the system seemed to need to be upgraded, “but now they need to get it back to the health department,” Fust said.

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