Faulty septic tanks dumping raw sewage into Portage River

Dick Berry
Dick Berry
The Portage River is getting dumped on -- literally -- by raw sewage.
The Portage River is getting dumped on -- literally -- by raw sewage.

NORTHWEST OHIO -- Simply put: The Portage River stinks.

In an effort to get it to stink less, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is targeting four counties to help keep pollution out of it, says News 11's Dick Berry in this EcoTrack 11 report.

And just how is the Ohio EPA managing this gargantuan task? Well, if you live along the river in Hancock, Wood, Ottawa or Sandusky counties, you might just be eligible for a new septic tank -- at half the price.

But let's backtrack a bit. The fact is, raw sewage has been leaking into the Portage River largely because homeowners like Pemberville resident Jim Miller have faulty septic tanks. If a septic tank's life span is limited to 30 years, if it's older, it's probably leaking.

Also, those older tanks just weren't built with the larger environmental picture in mind.

"We had an old system that was hand dug in the 1950s," Miller says. "Straight pipe out to the river."

Wanting to make a dent in the pollution problem, the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments (TMACOG) is working with residents to replace their tanks. The upshot? Ohio EPA grant funds will pay the contractor half the cost of the project -- up to $4,000 for a conventional system.

"Obviously there are a lot of people that do not want to pay for replacement of a system. They're very costly. This program helps encourage people to jump on board and get their system replaced," says Jerry Bingham, Wood County Health Department.

For more information, contact your county health department. Applications will be evaluated and ranked by officials. You may also call TMACOG at 419-241-9155.

You'd better act quickly. The grant program ends June 30.

Posted by KO