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Hancock County Health Department, PSD discuss enforcing West Virginia state code

NEW CUMBERLAND — The Hancock County Health Department and Hancock County Public Service District discussed enforcing West Virginia state code concerning public sewage service during last week’s health board meeting.

With the completion of the Route 30 sewer project comes the issue of making sure residents are following the state codes of tying into the public sewer system and properly abandoned septic tanks.

The state requires residents tie into public sewer when it comes to the area, and then it requires proper abandonment of the septic tank, which involves pumping it out and either collapsing it or filling it in.

“Everyone seems to have questions about filling in their septic tanks, I don’t know of any legal mechanism to make them do it, they just keep coming to me,” said Jeff Hughes, the HCPSD chief operator. “We run into the same thing on tying into the sewer, we have just some people that just refuse to tie into the sewer, state code says if public sewer comes to your area you shall tie on. And I mean, if they don’t what are you going to do?”

The HCPSD is responsible for tying people into the sewer system and the health department is responsible for enforcing proper abandonment of septic tanks. Both struggle with enforcing their respective state codes.

“It would be good to partner with the HCPSD and ask to put a requirement into their instruction for connecting to the sewer,” said Chelsea Everly, Hancock County Board of Health environmental sanitarian.

Health Department Administrator Jackie Huff reported she asked about doing that a few months ago, but the HCPSD board declined that request, because neither board is sure of the other’s jurisdictional power and abilities.

Currently with the Route 30 sewer project, the HCPSD has 170 new clients, 31 of whom have already tied in. Out of the 31 tie-ins only about two have filled in their septic tanks.

Currently the only actions either department can take is fining residents that do not follow the laws.

The health department currently has a $100 re-inspection fee, which residents would have to pay each time the health department comes to a residence to check on the abandonment of the septic tank.

In other actions, the health board:

— Announced it is sending the department’s updated service fees to the state Bureau of Health. No one from the public submitted comments on the fee increases. The board expects to have feedback from the state by the next meeting.

— Chairman John Plesa asked to table pay raises until the next meeting, and asked for two volunteers from the board to take lead on making recommendations. Board members Anthony Palavis and Sam DeCapio volunteered.

— The next meeting will be 4 p.m., Oct. 1.

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