Wednesday, March 21 at the Eaton County Board of Commissioners monthly meeting, the commissioners voted 9-6 to repeal “Regulations Governing On-site Sewage and On-site Water Supply System Evaluation and Maintenance.” The vote included the much-debated Time of Sale and Transfer (TOST) program. The vote followed two public hearings on the issue in February, as well as a final vote of the Barry-Eaton Board of Health to approve a repeal. Tuesday, March 13 the Barry County Board of Commissioners voted 6-0 in favor of the repeal.
According to a press release from the Barry-Eaton District Department of Health, the TOST program will remain in effect for 45 days after the vote, after which “there will be no BEDHD requirement for an evaluation, or health department review, or authorization to transfer for properties with on-site sewage wells, or sewage systems.”
The lack of regulation of Health Department regulation for on-site sewage and drain fields has some citizens very concerned. The long debated topic brought many citizens on both sides of the issue out for the Eaton County commissioners meeting. The commissioners’ chamber was reportedly standing room only March 21 as residents of both counties came to witness the results of the vote.
The concern over lack of regulation was notably shared by a number of Eaton County commissioners, as well as members of the Barry-Eaton District Health Department. It remains unclear after the vote whether or not a new form of regulation will be created to address the problems caused by faulty septic systems, however.
“The board of health is not looking at a replacement,” said Colette Scrimger, health officer with BEDHD. “Honestly, it will be dependent on community will to support such a program.”
According to Scrimger, the creation of TOST was largely a community wide effort, with input from not only the health department, but also county boards, residents, focus groups, and more. A new program of the same caliber would take the same amount of effort, especially one that addresses the concerns of citizens in opposition to TOST.
Scrimger’s concern, however, remains that the public was misinformed about the program and how it worked. Addressing concerns about TOST to her would largely mean more communication to keep residents informed.
“The greatest challenge was public misunderstanding of how it (TOST) operated and functioned,” said Scrimger.