After the first hearing, the revised Ordinance 61 finally seemed to be gaining momentum, as several Jasper County citizens and organizations who opposed the original version were pleased with the rewrite.
However, at Tuesday night’s second public hearing, the ordinance faced opposition from a new source: the Central Iowa Water Association.
“I apologize for our later involvement with this,” CIWA employee Duane Rozendall said.
Rozendall and CIWA Attorney Frank Smith came to the board to ask them to change several portions of Ordinance 61. The sections that they suggested be changed were in 6.1, 6.2.3, 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52.
In his version of 6.1, County Sanitarian Kevin Luetters wrote:
“Existing on-site wastewater treatment systems (OWTS), except as otherwise provided for in this chapter, a provision in this ordinance shall not require the removal, alteration or abandonment of, nor prevent the continued utilization and maintenance of, existing complaint OTWS in existence at the time of the adoption or this ordinance.
Luetters version would essentially allow anyone who already has a system in place to maintain their system. The only way a system that is already in place would have to follow the new laws would be if it, “constitutes a health or environmental hazard, or is otherwise dangerous to human life, or creates a nuisance as defined by Code of Iowa shall be declared as an unsafe OWTS.”
Smith presented the CIWA version of 6.1 to the board. It states:
“All existing OWTS shall be removed and connected to an approved common/public wastewater system when a common/public wastewater system is, or become located:
(a) Within 200-feet of any building or proposed building on any lot or premises which abuts and is serviced by such common/ public wastewater system, or
(b) Within 200-feet of any exterior drainage facility on any lot or premises which abuts and is serviced by such common/public wastewater system.”
The CIWA version also noted that the connection would have to happen within 180 days if a common/public wastewater system was being constructed. CIWA currently supplies services at Oakland Acres and Rock Creek in Jasper County.
“The reason my client is suggesting this is because, we think it’s better up front for folks to know exactly what the law says,” Smith said. “Your ordinance, as drafted, says where it is in conflict with Iowa law, Iowa law controls. But we view that it would be better for all your citizens and your administrative staff if it simply said what Iowa law says.”
Smith presented the board with several documents his organization drew up and gave a lengthy speech explaining all of the information and repeatedly referred to the language of the new Ordinance 61 as ambiguous
Board chair Dennis Stevenson asked Leutters why the county was dealing with this if Iowa law already had it covered.
“Well, we are not dealing with this in the ordinance, because there is nothing about the 200-foot rule in the ordinance,” Luetters said.
Luetters’ previous version of Ordinance 61 had a 200-foot rule that was more restrictive than the state rule. In his revised draft, Luetters eliminated that portion and said the county will follow state law.
“The administrative code is kind of ambiguous because it gives final determination of availability to the administrative authority, which is us,” Luetters said. “There are no terms and conditions set. The way it’s written now is I would go out and make a determination, and then they would come to the Board of Health.”
Luetters also pointed out that if a citizen had to switch their OWTS to CIWA line, they would also have to take on CIWA water service. Smith said that is generally CIWA’s policy, but there are some exceptions made.
“I understand your position, but I also have mine too,” Stevenson said. “I will consider this, but I’m just telling you I struggle with it. Especially that, ‘Yes, you can have our (sewer connection) but you have to have water too (portion).’ I struggle with that.”
The second reading of Ordinance 61 passed, and Tuesday there will be a third reading and public hearing during the regular board meeting at 9:30 a.m.
Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.