Strengthening Septic System Regulations in Oklahoma

When it comes to politics, I’m a staunch advocate for personal freedom, echoing sentiments akin to Ron Paul’s libertarian principles.

In a nutshell, my philosophy is straightforward: live and let live. Love who you want, smoke what you want, own any gun you want, as long as I don’t have to pay for it and you aren’t hurting someone else.

Now, in this post, I will seemingly contradict that—I’m calling for increased government regulation. In particular, septic system regulations. Stick around; I assure you it doesn’t contradict what I said earlier.

Oklahoma’s lenient laws regarding septic systems have created a Wild West scenario. Homeowners, and subsequently the environment, bear the brunt of this laxity. Even someone without experience or knowledge can install a septic system without qualifications or supervision. This means that anyone, regardless of their background or expertise, can attempt to install a septic system on their own.

Armed with a rental excavator and a YouTube video, they can take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners. Homeowners assume they are hiring a reputable contractor when the reality is the opposite.

This may be legal, technically, but it comes at a cost—both financial and environmental. Homeowners often discover subpar systems and have to pay for corrections themselves. The consequences extend beyond individual properties, with instances of illegal sewage disposal and environmental damage, all because of weak regulations.

Instead of adding more rules, I suggest a practical solution that doesn’t increase the expense of approved septic systems. To stay safe, homeowners should ask basic questions when hiring someone to install a septic system or buying a house. These questions include “Are you certified?” and “Can I see the permit?”

Additionally, when buying a house, it is important to ask “Can I see the septic final?” However, a permanent solution involves implementing two key changes: licensing for installers and enhanced disclosures during real estate transactions.

  1. Licensing: All septic installers must obtain a license and display their license numbers on their vehicles. Unlicensed individuals should be prohibited from advertising as installers
  2. Stronger Disclosures: Mandate more comprehensive disclosures during real estate transactions, attaching the onsite final and maintenance records to the disclosure statement. Purchasers should be explicitly informed if records are unavailable, encouraging transparency.
  3. Inspections: Septic systems should be inspected during a real estate transaction.

In this case, sensible regulation is not about stifling freedom but about protecting homeowners and the environment. These changes won’t cost much for legal septic systems but will protect against unqualified people.

Unfortunately, Oklahoma’s current reluctance to embrace new regulations poses a challenge, even as the septic system permit issuances skyrocket.

The Department of Environmental Quality has issued more permits in the past few years, increasing from 6,000 to over 10,000. Additionally, more than half of new homes in Oklahoma use septic systems, making it urgent to take action.

To protect your property, ask questions and demand transparency about your neighbor’s septic system to ensure it’s safe.

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