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Monday, May 2, 2016

Septic workshop scheduled

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Jennifer McKee
TERRE HAUTE -- A septic workshop will take place at Camp Wabashi, located south of Terre Haute, Friday, March 23.

The workshop is targeted toward realtors, housing inspectors, lending agents, appraisers and others associated with the real estate industry, including departments of health responsible for permitting and inspection of private septic systems.

The workshop is presented by a partnership of the Clay, Greene, Sullivan and Vigo county Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD), the West Central Indiana Watershed Alliance (Watershed Alliance) and the Indiana Onsite Wastewater Professionals Association.

The workshop will feature speakers from Purdue University, the Indiana Department of Health, Empower Results, contracting professionals, rural development and the local financial industry.

"Statewide, nearly 30 percent of the streams that have been classified as impaired were listed because of E. coli issues," Watershed Coordinator for the Watershed Alliance Lisa Holscher said. "Private septic systems are large contributors to problems with surface water quality.

"It's not unusual to see levels that exceed those allowed for swimming at this time of year," Holscher added. "And during summer months -- let's just say sometimes there's a pungent odor downstream for some neighborhoods."

Several watersheds in the four-county area have been awarded Section 319 grants to address water quality issues, including E. coli. Current watershed projects include the Plummer-Richland Creek Watershed (Greene and Monroe counties) and the Busseron Creek Watershed (Clay, Green, Sullivan and Vigo counties).

Typical septic system failures are related to:

* Houses more than 35-years-old, which often have a tank plus a tile that runs to a ditch. That type of system is illegal. When discovered, it must be replaced,

* Houses that are 15-35-years-old, which usually installed to meet minimum standards of the time.

Compared to modern systems, old systems often have small septic tanks and absorption fields. Although they should have been pumped and inspected every 2-5 years (depending on the system size and number of people in household) -- they rarely are -- and now are probably in some stage of failure, and

* Houses less than 15-years-old, which are sized better for current lifestyles ... but again, are often neglected. Un-maintained tanks can see a sludge build up, which left unchecked, can flow into the fingers of a system -- where it can plug pores in trenches and keep water from being absorbed.

The group organizing the event believed real estate professionals could play a significant role in addressing septic issues.

"This is a win-win proposition," Clay County SWCD Coordinator Jennifer McKee said. "If real estate professionals can help identify problem systems during routine appraisals and inspections, and help buyers follow through with repairs, then we can help to improve property values by improving surface water quality.

"It's hard to sell a lake-front home if the beach is regularly closed due to E. coli."

Workshop topics will include:

* It All Starts With The Soils -- Is the tract you are listing suitable for a traditional septic system,

* Understanding The Impacts Of Private Septic Systems On High-Value (lake-front, stream-side) Properties,

* Becoming A Good Advocate For Buyers And Sellers -- What you need to know to insure systems are in good working order,

* How Much Room Do You Need? A full-scale layout for a typical home will give you a better idea, and

* Tools To Close A Sale On A Property With A Failing System -- Financial industry requirements and government loan programs.

Continuing education credits have been applied for registration deadline, which is Wednesday, March 21.

For more information, call Jan Came, Vigo County Soil and Water Conservation District, at 812-232-0193 Ext. 3, or log on to www.Watershed-Alliance.org.

For additional information, call Clay County Soil and Water Conservation District Coordinator Jennifer McKee at 448-1108 Ext. 3.

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