Panama City - Tuesday, Jackson County commissioners voted to opt-out of the state's controversial new septic tank inspection law. Bay County commissioners may be next.
The legislature changed the 2010 inspection law this spring, to include only those counties with a first magnitude spring. Bay County is one of 19 counties with a first magnitude spring, so county commissioners have to opt-out of the law for septic tank owners to avoid inspections.
The original intent of the law was to help protect our water supply. But opposition to the 2010 septic tank law was so widespread, it was never enforced. Lawmakers passed a moratorium until they could come up with the new bill this spring. It gives county governments the opportunity to opt-out of the inspections. Bay county still hasn't made a decision.
"I feel sure that this commission will opt out of it. Your wife and the children will tell you when the septic tank needs work. You don't need the state telling you or you don't need the county telling you," Bay County Commissioner Mike Thomas said.
Bay County's Environmental Health Director Ralph Miller says, law or no-law, having your septic tank properly installed and inspected is important for protecting lakes, streams and the people who live near them.
"Mainly you're talking about fecal bacteria, e-coli, and it can be very serious especially to the elderly," Miller said.
But Thomas says the county has it under control.
"That's why we put the second sewer system up around the north end of the county to move into those areas around the lakes and all those areas a they develop. That's the county's job to take care of the water."
County commissioners are scheduled to take a vote on the septic tank law at their second meeting in July.