Richmond, Rubio residents to receive letters from county
Residents of Richmond and Rubio will be getting an informational letter from the Washington County Board of Supervisors soon.
Supervisor Jack Seward Jr. has taken the lead on solving the sanitary sewer problems in the two unincorporated communities. Richmond is in Seward’s supervisor district.
The letter begins by stating that the supervisors voted to end the proposed communitywide systems in Richmond and Rubio on April 23, 2013, and to put individual property and homeowners in charge of their own septic sewage treatment systems.
“That informational letter was just to let them know what was going on,” Seward said Tuesday, June 4, during the supervisors regular weekly meeting.
The letter will also remind the residents that Washington County needs to comply with a DNR order to resolve sewage problems by June 1, 2014.
Seward had intended that the letters be done earlier, but he found out that the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) had concerns about some of the wording in the letter.
At issue is how many residents in Richmond will be required to have private septic systems that meet the DNR standards. Seward said the standards are explained in the code of Iowa, Chapter 69 Private Sewage Disposal Systems. An attachment to the letter tells residents where they can find the information they need.
Seward also said that he has the impression from DNR staff were going to force everyone who would have hooked up to the community system in Richmond to have the correct septic system. The 90 residents include people who might not contribute to the problem of untreated sewage.
When Seward and supervisor Ron Bennett met with the DNR on May 22, Seward said he was going to start with the homeowners who contributed to the contaminated samples the DNR found last fall. Local DNR officials said they are concerned about the entire community.
To the supervisors on June 4, he said, “I still think we will have difficulty trying to force compliance to someone that is not — that we cannot prove is a contributor to the contaminated samples.”
But as the letter states, everyone in Washington County and the state of Iowa is to comply with DNR regulations.
The letter asks residents to check their personal situation and make plans to bring their own system up to standards. However, the letter emphatically states that residents should not spend money for an inspection if they know their system is not up to standards.
Also attached to the letter is a list of local certified inspectors, a list of on-site system contractors and engineers and possible funding sources.
Seward also plans to send a second letter to residents who do not voluntarily meet the standards. He said the second letter would focus on enforcement actions.
Brock said that Seward believes he has identified the residents who contribute to the contaminated samples.
“I don’t know how you’ve done that, don’t know what expertise you have to do that, I don’t know what engineering reports you’ve looked at or engineers you’ve consulted as to where the drainage goes,” he said. “That’s an issue that we’ll have to address if we intend to enforce it against those people.”
Later in the day on June 4, the letter was revised. County auditor Dan Widmer sent the revised to letter to The Journal.