Murrysville council to update 'draconian' septic ordinance
By Daveen Rae Kurutz
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
A decade after approving septic-tank regulations that have never been enforced, Murrysville officials plan to revise a controversial ordinance that requires 1,500 homeowners to have their septic tanks inspected and cleaned every three to five years.
In 2002, Murrysville Council established septic-tank regulations that include how frequently tanks should be emptied and dictate which facilities can receive the waste. The ordinance identifies the Franklin Township Municipal Sanitary Authority as an option for hauling away the waste.
In December, officials with the sanitary authority asked Murrysville to remove it from the regulation. The request gives the municipality reason to revise the ordinance, said Jim Morrison, Murrysville chief administrator.
That's not a bad thing, said Council President Joan Kearns, who voted in favor of the ordinance in 2002 but now says it's too intrusive.
“We need to have regulations that don't come across making us look like the septage police,” Kearns said.
“As it is crafted, it's not going to work. Hopefully, we can get rid of these draconian measures,” she said.
Morrison agrees that the ordinance should be revised.
“There are issues of our responsibility on private property,” Morrison said. “We need to begin discussions with (the state Department of Environmental Protection) to come up with something less onerous.”
DEP spokesman John Poister said Murrysville is the only community in the state that requires municipalitywide pumping and inspections of residential septic tanks.
Kearns isn't the only one who lost faith in the ordinance.
Helge Skreppen has had a septic tank on his property for 39 years. When his children lived at home, he had crews pump the tank every five or six years. Now, he waits a year or two longer.
“Every time I have it serviced, they tell me there is no need to,” Skreppen said. “It's filled again two weeks after it's pumped, but with dishwater.”
Floyd Messalle said the municipality has no right to come onto his property without a warrant.
“You're supposed to take care of my needs, and you do a pretty good job of that,” Messalle said. “But this ordinance is way, way out of line.”
The state requires municipalities with on-lot residential disposal systems, such as septic tanks, to provide a procedure for maintaining those systems. DEP and municipal officials in the late 1990s developed the plan to make sure septic tanks didn't back up or break because of waste buildup.
Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 15 spills illegally discharge sewage into Murrysville’s Turtle Creek
- State awards $457K grant for trail in Murrysville area