Columbus residents with septic tanks may face thousands of dollars in fees

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Many Columbus property owners with septic tanks could face thousands of dollars in fees and construction costs after being required to tap into the city’s sanitary-sewer lines.

Luke Jacobs, section chief of environmental health for Columbus Public Health, spoke to CPH board members during their April 15 meeting.

Columbus Public Health, which is working with the Department of Public Utilities, simply is enforcing city law, which requires the sanitary-sewer hookup for all homeowners, Jacobs said.

Currently, the city has identified 350 homes that have no obstruction to the sanitary lines, meaning they are the first to be requested to link into the sanitary sewers, he said.

About 1,800 such properties are scattered throughout central Ohio, he said.

Property owners are on the line for a $3,044 capacity fee and up to $5,000 in contractors’ fees. Meanwhile, the city also requires a front footage fee, which is $45 per foot times the width of the lot.

City officials say they’re trying to help homeowners avoid sticker shock by setting up the Septic Tank Elimination Program, a no-interest loan program to assist homeowners with the expenses.

Owners of single-family homes or duplexes that have an existing septic system could be eligible for the loans. The houses must be valued at less than $250,000 by the Franklin County Auditor’s Office.

Jacobs said the city is trying to keep sanitary runoff out of its lakes and streams. And there are many benefits to a sanitary-sewer connection, such as higher capacity, no septic backups, few odors and no dampness and seepage, he said.

Septic tanks also are costly to maintain and even more expensive to replace, he said.

“Septic tanks eventually fail,” he said.

Jacobs said existing septic tanks would be crushed on site and topped with clean landfill.

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