Household Sewage System Operation
and Management Program
Non-point source pollution, which includes the effluent from malfunctioning household sewage systems, fertilizers, and other surface runoff contaminants, is often identified as a major contributor to poor water quality in a watershed. Specific sources of non-point source pollution are often difficult to identify. This form of pollution is discharged to common collector pipes, storm sewers, and roadside ditches which often drain to streams, rivers, and ultimately to Lake Erie. Additional information on non-point source pollution is available at the Ohio EPA's website.
To assist in addressing these water quality concerns, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health implemented its Household Sewage System Operation and Management Program in 1993. This program utilizes a diverse approach to identify and minimize the impact household sewage systems have on the environment. This program is one of many similar programs currently administered by local health departments throughout the State of Ohio.
The Household Sewage Operation and Management Program provides for sampling of surface waters and treatment systems. This sampling assists the Board of Health in prioritizing areas determined to be adversely impacted by pollution sources.
Since the inception of the program, many educational seminars have been conducted for homeowners who utilize household sewage systems. Whether during a meeting, a conversation at the property, or over the telephone, our sanitarians assist homeowners by providing specific information on their individual sewage system along with suggestions on the maintenance of their system. Detailed information on the care and maintenance of household sewage systems is also provided on this web site.
To request an evaluation of your sewage system, simply complete the Sewage System Evaluation Application and submit it to the Board of Health. A sanitarian will contact the person to provide access to the home to schedule the inspection.
Along with requested point-of-sale inspections and nuisance complaint investigations, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health also conducts operational inspections of household sewage systems. Sewage system evaluations are scheduled and conducted throughout the communities we service. As these systems are evaluated, the data that is gathered is provided to community officials along with pertinent water quality sampling data. The Board of Health works with community officials to develop feasible solutions for correcting the sewage treatment and disposal problems identified. In many circumstances, the design and installation of a sanitary sewer is the most practical solution for eliminating failing sewage systems. In other locations, the installation of a sanitary sewer may not be feasible. In these situations, the repair or replacement of malfunctioning household sewage systems will be necessary. Homeowners are typically involved in the decision process and are kept informed as these determinations are made.
A number of municipalities have completed preliminary studies and have determined that the installation of a sanitary sewer in certain areas is not feasible or cost-effective. Topographical limitations, large lot sizes, and sparse population in an area may result in a sewer project not being practical. In these communities, the Board of Health works with homeowners to repair or replace failing systems. To date, several thousand malfunctioning sewage systems have been repaired or replaced throughout Cuyahoga County. Likewise, over 7,000 systems have been eliminated from use as the result of sanitary sewer installation.
The activities in the Household Sewage Operation and Management Program are supported by fees collected from the issuance of annual Operation and Management Permits, which are required of all homeowners who utilize household sewage systems. This annual permit is renewed prior to September 1st of each year.
Nate McConoughey, RS
(216) 201-2000 ext 1239
Colin Johnson, RS, MPH
(216)201-2000 ext 1212