Michigan House Republicans
Rep. Prestin: Ill-conceived plan proposes statewide septic code; includes mandatory five-year inspections, stiff fines
RELEASE|June 28, 2023
Contact: David Prestin

By State Rep. Dave Prestin

Several of you have reached out to me about the Democrat’s proposal to implement a statewide septic code (House Bills 4479 and 4480, Senate Bills 299 and 300). The implementation of this legislation would put the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) in charge of regulating onsite wastewater treatment systems, or septic systems.

Senate Bill 299 proposes harsh requirements such as:

  • Requiring homeowners to pay fees and costs of septic system inspections every five years
  • Requiring homeowners to fix failed systems within six months
  • Charging homeowners with a $1,000 fine for every 30 days the system is in failure.
  • Creating a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 for each violation and imprisonment for up to one year for anyone who knowingly submits information that is false, incorrect, misleading, or fabricated.

The Delta County Board of Commissioners recently sent me a copy of Resolution 23-05 opposing these bills. I agree with them.

I am very concerned about the expenses of this proposal. According to one estimate, Michigan would need about 280,000 additional septic inspections per year statewide. More people in the Upper Peninsula have septic systems than those who live in metropolitan areas like Lansing or Detroit. Increasing inspection expenses would disproportionately burden our local health departments.

A homeowner’s cost to fix a failed system can be more than $20,000 if the land around the home has heavy soils, clays, a high-water table, or seasonal flooding. Also, the six-month timeframe to fix a failed system doesn’t work well within our limited U.P. construction window and frost laws.

No one wants a failed system adversely affecting our rivers and lakes, but it’s also clear that many U.P. residents and county health officials would be overly burdened by this proposal.

Before this plan moves forward, I am urging the sponsors of these bills to do a lot more work, such as providing financial assistance. Otherwise, it’s just another unfunded mandate that would create a hardship for those least able to bear it.

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