County prepares for June 1 deadlineThree Richmond, three Rubio households without plan
With the June 1, 2014 deadline drawing near, the Washington County Board of Supervisors needs to make sure all the homeowners in Richmond and Rubio have septic systems that meet the requirements of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Otherwise, the county would face fines of up to $5,000 a day until the septic systems are compliant.
The supervisors held a two-hour work session Tuesday afternoon to discuss where the county is in the process and what needs to happen by the deadline. County treasurer Jeff Garrett and county attorney Larry Brock assisted the supervisors.
Supervisor Jack Seward Jr. summarized the process and issues involved in meeting the deadline. He said that of the 130 properties that needed to comply with the regulations, only six — three in Richmond and three in Rubio — do not have a viable plan submitted to the county environmental health department.
For various reasons the property owners cannot get bank loans to pay for the septic systems. Seward is meeting with Habitat for Humanity to see if Habitat would accept donations for the specific homeowners. Environmental Health director Jennine Wolf is going to ask the certified contractors if any of them would be willing to donate their time, equipment and/or materials to the six homeowners.
Failure to put in a system would mean that the county would have to install a septic system. The costs of doing so would be added to the homeowners’ property taxes and the costs would need to be repaid over 10 years.
Seward had thought the county could evict the people from their homes due to public health concerns. However, Brock said the county doesn’t have the authority to evict people from their homes. The county does have the power to step in and install a septic system, the cost of which would be attached to the property.
Brock recommended the environmental health department mail enforcement letters to any of the property owners without a viable plan by May 1, and give them a deadline to have the work completed.