Murphy’s Law 2020 #9 Waste water/Septic/Sewage

July 19, 2020

There is much more clarity when it comes to waste water/septic systems following recent hearings in Bismarck. Installers and regulators testified as well as counties. Everyone seems to want the state to set standards for how these systems are designed and installed and to license installers. Handling it would be the new split from the Health Dept. now titled Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ). A technical board made up of installers and regulators would handle disputes. As one testifier put it; “All the parts of the car are in the room, but they are scattered all over the floor.” A can-do attitude was definitely the mood and a skeleton of a bill has been submitted. I think this one will fly by the coming session in 2021. That is what I wrote in blog #2 of this year in January but COVID-19 has changed the handling of this. The DEQ testified that it can no longer help with the two full time jobs it had hoped to dedicate, in fact, the director stated that they had to cut existing programs and could not afford the time or money to start new ones. In response, the Association of Counties attorney, Aaron Birst, modified the original bill draft to remove the DEQ from that position and replaced it with a technical board that has all the rest of the players from the first concept. As in January, all of those concerned were in favor of this proposed technical board unifying the players. The advisory board could hopefully also take on the role of dispute resolution to avoid lawsuits. As blog #8 mentioned, the interim Legislative Commerce committee holding this hearing has decided not to hand in any official interim bill draft, but the chairman offered hope that perhaps someone in or outside the committee would take the new bill and sponsor it. He also offered to co-sponsor if I heard him correctly. So until this North Dakota budget mess gets straightened out, we can still hold out hope that our state will be improving the uniformity of treating our waste water.