Aeration systems discharging fecal matter, bacteria
On Sept. 20, Franklin County Public Health unveiled a map that shows various levels of pollution from household sewage treatment systems.
About 50 community leaders and residents from Jackson, Prairie, Pleasant and Franklin townships gathered for the first of four community meetings at the Jackson Township Administration Building in Grove City.
These meetings are to educate the public about the aging and failing systems and what can be done to repair or replace them.
Red dots on the map showed obvious or severe pollution in four southwestern Franklin County townships and along Demorest Road south of I-270. Yellow dots indicating potential or likely pollution were more prevalent.
Paul Rosile, Franklin County Public Health, said the map was drawn up using dry weather screenings and actual sightings of pollution as well as complaints of residents.
The aeration systems responsible for sending untreated or undertreated sewage into the ground were invented and installed in the early 1970s, Rosile said.
His presentation included photos showing pollution coming out of pipes and going into streams and ditches. The pollution was most likely toilet paper, he said of one photo that showed gray matter hanging on the edge of a pipe above a watery ditch.
Discharges increase as the aging system begins to fail.
Public health risks increase as such discharge creates bacteria that can be carried by people and pets coming in contact with the liquid from that static water.
“It can pose a health risk,” Rosile said. “You have to ingest that stream water to become ill.”
He added, to avoid exposure do not allow children or pets to play in ditch water. Rosile stressed the importance of frequent and thorough hand washing.
Rosile said the county inspects the household systems every year. This can determine if the discharges are causing a public health nuisance.
“If it is a nuisance, it has to be abated,” he said.
A nuisance would be liquid discharge, a strong odor or the black or gray coloration of the discharge. Taking samples can determine the level of fecal matter or E Coli.
A failing system means the homeowner is responsible for bringing the system into compliance with state law and local regulations. Some suggestions Rosile offered were to introduce a soil absorption system, repair the malfunction or connect to a sanitary sewer system.
Rosile estimated about 1,500 aeration systems still exist throughout the 17 townships in Franklin County. The cost of replacing the system could run between $15,000 and $18,000.
“Forty years ago, no one considered the public health risks,” he said. “Things have changed and regulations today are different.”
For more information visit www.myfcph.org.