Rewrite of county’s septic law underway; draft released

The Brown County Commissioners and Brown County Board of Health spent nearly four hours Tuesday going section-by-section through a rewrite of the county’s septic system ordinance.

The law hasn’t been completely overhauled since 1997. A rewrite the commissioners passed in 2013 was challenged in a lawsuit and found to be not properly advertised, so that update never took effect.

Health board members said local changes are needed because state laws have changed in the past 20 years. The health board is also charged with maintaining public health in Brown County, and if the county were to have large-scale septic failures, that could be a major public health problem.

Most homes in Brown County deal with wastewater through septic systems on individual properties; the only areas that have public sewers are Gnaw Bone, Helmsburg and in-town Nashville.

Most homeowners won’t feel effects of the law unless they add onto their home — such as creating another bedroom — sell their home, or have a failing septic system.

The new draft has not been passed yet; the commissioners and health board said the public will have chances to comment on it before that happens. The next work session between the two boards has been set for 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 14 at the County Office Building.

See the March 8 paper for a full story.

Below are the 1997 version of the ordinance — the one currently in effect — and the 2017 draft rewrite.

In the 2017 draft, the parts in red are the state code to which the local ordinance refers. Portions with no state code citation are rules the health board has set specifically for Brown County, board members said.


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Sara Clifford has been raising a family in Brown County since 2005 and leading the Brown County Democrat since late 2009. In addition to editor, she is the beat reporter for town government and writes columns, features and general news stories.