Parker County PPO busy sniffing out crime –

Parker County residents should rest a little bit easier knowing we now have our very own Parker County Poop Patrol Officer (PCPPO) sniffing out crime wherever he goes.

Let’s face it – it’s just not fair to leave to the County Health Department, such a huge responsibility as ensuring rural septic systems are tuned up and operating efficiently.

We all know how lax federal and state environmental quality control measures are.

My, aren’t we fortunate to have our very own Commissioners Court to take over CONTROL of our lives where state and federal bureaucrats leave off.

After all – our County Judge probably had hundreds, if not thousands of complaints about incompetent private citizens who were not properly maintaining their septic systems – so many it was impossible for the County Health Department to take appropriate action when violations occurred.

What’s that you say?  There was only one – maybe two complaints in the last twenty plus years?  Naw, there must’a been more than that.

I bet there were a whole bunch of property owners that were complained about.

Just like all those property owners who were recklessly discharging firearms in the County. What’s that you say – that senseless gun ban resulted because only ONE person was ACCUSED, not ARRESTED, not CHARGED, and not CONVICTED of ANY crime!

How many aerobic septic systems do you suppose there will be in Parker County within 20 years.  Let’s just use a conservative estimate of 2,500.  If each of those 2,500 property owners are forced to pay an annual $250 “maintenance fee” (another name for TAX), we’re talking about a serious sum of money – $625,000.00! Heck that’s enough money to hire a couple of deputies for the PPO.

My neighbor’s cow broke through my fence the other day.  Will somebody talk to Commissioners Court about establishing a County Fence Law that requires property owners to pay an annual “maintenance fee” to the County. Then we can hire a County Fence Patrol Officer.

What’s next?

46 responses

  1. Sorry, but in our subdivision alone there have been 5 homeowners who did not maintain their systems. That caused noxious odors and coffee colored water emitted from their systems. The subdivision next door has had at least 2 that I have heard of. It is extremely dismaying that people will not act responsibly and have to be forced to do so. My feeling is that when your freedom or actions impact me, I am entitled to curtail your actions. Kind of like second hand smoke. Once it gets into my space, it needs to be fixed.

    1. Hi bc71

      Be careful about surrendering your neighbors freedom. It could have a direct impact on yours. The law in question is bad law and should be overturned. If one driver with bad brakes runs into someone and causes damage, should we make it unlawful for all auto owners to perform any maintenance on their automobiles?

      That’s just a small part of what this regulation does.

    2. parkercountyblog

      Are you suggesting that the proper remedy is to penalize everyone for the negligence of a few irresponsible property owners?

      Would it be better for all concerned to report known problems to the County Health Department for disposition?

      If, having tried the Health Department and no remedy was forthcoming, wouldn’t the prudent course of action be to address the problem in the Health Department rather than punish an innocent citizenry?

  2. The problem with the blog is it champions the notion that on-site sewage disposal is not a problem at all. And assumes the motivation behind the county judge, commissioners court and health department regulating the aerobic septic is to control our lives. I don’t live in Parker County or know any of the local officials in question but I suspect they are all good people trying to do a difficult job to the best of their abilities. It’s not just citizens complaints your local officials are dealing with the EPA is out there doing ground and surface water sampling everyday, sending out reports on what they are finding and putting a lot of pressure on your state and local county officials.

    I agree that the existing aerobic regulations just don’t work.

    But like it or not water pollution is a problem and on-site sewage disposal is part of the problem. I don’t know about you but I want clean streams, rivers and lakes to pass down to my kids and their kids. We need to regulate sewage disposal but how we do it matters.

    If you’d work with your local officials, explain your objections to the existing regulations in a calm and clear way, then offer constructive alternatives for them to consider maybe something could be worked out.

    1. parkercountyblog

      The course of action you have suggested is also being taken.

      We expect the outcome to be acceptable to everyone except to those whose actions (or inaction) cause harm to others.

    2. Mr. Cooper, since you don’t reside in Parker County, and you don’t know anything about our local issues, please go blow your smoke in someone else’s face.

      This issue has nothing to do with ground water. Our problem as it relates to this issue is identifying the proper entity for monitoring aerobic system maintenance issues.

      We are simply encouraging the County Health Department to take the lead on this issue.

      I don’t think anyone in Parker County would object to fining an irresponsible property owner for not meeting an aerobic system maintenance standard.

      What we find so offensive is the threat of a $500 per day fine to the overwhelming majority of responsible property owners for not having a maintenance contract on their system when it is not required by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).

      1. I know something about this issue Mark. I’ve been in violation of this law for over 2 years and have no intention of ever buying a maintenance contract or paying one red cent in fines. This issue effects every county in the state. I am a Texan, I hope that qualify’s me to speak up in an open forum in Parker County????

      2. Exactly Mark!

      3. Mr. Cooper, I can only speak for myself, but from what I have seen on this blog, you are free to express your opinion on any issue any time you wish. I would never disagree with you that ground water should be a concern to everyone. Limiting government control over my life is just a little bit higher on my list of priorities.

  3. Were these aerobic septic systems? Or regular septic systems? I agree when someone is causing a public nuisance they should be gone after by the county but not before. You should not be found guilty if you are maintaining your system. The maintenance fee required for aerobic systems is not for maintenance but for testing that the state does not require but the county does. Is there evidence this fee changes all septic owners aerobic or not to take care of their systems? This is just another mandated tax for responsible homeowners.

  4. If you don’t own an aerobic septic system and don’t have to pay the yearly fees maybe next you will re required to pay the fees for standard systems even if you are maintaining your system you can be charged $500 a day for not signing a contract as well as being convicted of a crime the crime is not for not maintaining it is for not having a forced contract!

  5. Well, I’m not the radical in the room, but these inspections should be restricted to high concentration housing developments that truly would impact ground water. Acreage of 10 acres or more has shown that even lateral line systems adequatly filter the sewage that will escape the systems. Oh, and about the second hand smoke thing most smokers go outside and ususally away from entrances. Once I am outside and away from the entrance you can kiss my A$$
    That car you sit in right next to he entrance and leave runninng to remain cool in your perfect little world causes more damage in 15 minutes than I will in the next 10 years

  6. lynette McCracken

    The point is being missed! This in not talking about malfunctioning septic systems we are talking about paying rent on a functioning system you have already purchased and being told it does not matter if your system is in working order you are mandated by county ordinance to sign a contract with a septic company or be fined $500 per day! The state of TX. does not have such a law they once did but repealed it to now requiring it for only the first 2 years. Hey, if you want to hire out and pay a service contractor that is your right but if you are self reliant and can do it yourself why should you not have that freedom!

    1. If you can get certified by the manufacturer or your system to perform routine maintenance on your particular system, you are nor required to have a maintenance contract. That provision is stated in the law. The REASON for the County Ordinance is just this simple: before the Ordinance was passed, the odor caused by malfunctioning aerobic septic systems was not covered by any law or Ordinance. The Ordinance was passed to give the County Health Department authority to do more than complain to the noxious odor maker. If you don’t want to pay for a maintenance contract, get certified to work on your own system, and you won’t need one.

  7. LOL stangarnerstan yeah it is pretty radical by todays standards to stand up for your own rights and the rights of other property owners when we have all been told “you can’t fight city hall.” It is sad to me it has taken 5 years before someone has stood up to challenge this!

  8. Lynette it’s not just the proper functioning of the system they are concerned with. They need to know that the wastewater discharged from the system is also being disinfected.

    They do the inspections in order to test for residual chlorine. Three a year may be a little much, but these test do need to be done.

    To avoid a conflict of interest the test should be done by inspectors working directly for the enforcement authority.

    I understand that the authority needs these records in order to build a data base. The thing I don’t understand is why they would trust the maintenance guy to supply them with reliable reports. After all this is the same guy in many cases that they can not trust to install the system properly. The authority inspects that process themselves.

    The maintenance guy is less likely to send in accurate reports that the homeowner would IMO.

    Get the maintenance guy out of the inspection business and the need for the contracts goes away.

    1. The State of TX. says the homeowner is exempt from testing after 2 years that sounds good to me.

      1. The state also gave the local agency authority to enforce more stringent rules if the more stringent rule results in greater public health and safety.

        The question is; how does anyone really know if the mandated contract results in greater public health and safety or not.

        I’ve searched a year or more for a reliable comparative study and have found nothing.

        Maybe your health department can answer that question?

  9. I honestly want to give the Judge and the Commissioners the benefit of the doubt. My thought is that they go by the state requirements. The state stepped back their requirements for homeowners and maybe the county just needs to update theirs based on the states recommendation. Maybe the county got some bad advice and maybe for the past 5 years no one cared enough to complain or to question this so the county did not bother with changing it! I think a lot of people have been woken up about it now and that is a good thing in my book!

    1. Lynette, You don’t know how lucky you are. You are dealing with county commissioners, they have to worry about being voted out of office. I’m dealing with a politically appointed board. All they worry about is to do Rick Perry’s bidding. They pay zero attention to the complaints of the citizens.

    2. The county is not going to stop doing the inspections. They need the information generated by the reports they now get from the maintenance guy in order to build a data base. The EPA wants every county in the country to build a data base so they can manage every on-site wastewater system in their jurisdiction. Your only hope is to convince the county to change the way they collect the data they need.

      1. Mr. Cooper,

        You are obviously correct. EPA is not going away – nor should they. I agree the question in our case is how best to collect the data. It is my humble opinion that someone in the Health Department is likely better suited for the task than some backhoe operator with the proper license but whose priority may be elsewhere.

      2. One way to collect the so called needed data on the people who wish to opt out is have the septic service test it when they have actually been called out by the homeowner to pump out the septic.

      3. Lynette, does your husband know how to tell his tanks need pumping?

        Some system can need it right away while others could go five +years.

  10. The maintenance guy may be able to do the job. The test are not all that demanding and any six year old could fill out the reports.

    The problem I have with the maintenance guy doing the test is the conflict of interest, he makes more money when something goes wrong.

  11. The Forth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides that:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.

    The way I see it is the Parker county officials are demanding the aerobic system owner to purchase the maintenance contract for one reason only. They need the reports sent to them by the maintenance in order to tract the owners compliance with wastewater standards.

    The contract is between the homeowner and the maintenance provider and ownership of all records produced under the contract become the property of the homeowner.

    The only legal way Parker county can get access to the reports is by consent of the homeowner.

    Now look at the contract they are asking you to sign. It will say;
    Provider will provide reports on the status of the system to the local permitting authority and the customer within 14 days of inspection.

    Once the homeowner signs the contract he has given consent and surrendered his forth amendment rights to the reports and the information within the reports can be used against him in a legal proceeding.

    Now can Parker county charge you with a crime for refusing to consent to an unreasonable seizure of records and make it stick in a court of law?

    That’s yet to be determined but I don’t think so.

    1. Mr. Cooper,
      In an earlier comment you said you do not live in Parker County. I think that’s unfortunate. We certainly could use more concerned citizens with your intellect and tenacity.

  12. Guys I believe the reason the state says 2 years is they can find out what they need in the first 2 years. Look the exemption is for homeowners on the house that they live in. Rental property is not exempt etc…I believe most people will still just sign contracts because they are used to signing them and maybe they don’t want to check their own system. Again the county will have 2 years of data already from each homeowner already. If the state says they don’t need it after 2 years why push more!

    1. Lynette,
      Do you renew your contract for each of the first two years? Are there any provisions for breaking the contract if you are not satisfied with your maintenance guy?

      1. Mark the first 2 years is part of the purchase of the system. The installing dealer does the inspections at no cost. You can renew with him if you like or go to another septic guy for around $200.00.

    2. Anyone with an aerobic system should have a good basic understanding of how it works and how to maintain and test it. Dr Bruce Lesikar of Texas A$M put out a good little service guide you can buy here

      Its B-6235 around $20.00 and worth every penny.

      If if you contract you should know enough to keep the septic honest. They will take advantage , I know from experience.

    3. From Jack: Lynette, Parker County has a very small, very low qualified Health Department and the Commissioners’ Court will tell you that they can’t afford to hire the manpower needed to do the inspections on aerobic systems and that is why they rely on rely on repairmen to make the inspections and fill out the reports. I would not have voted for this Ordinance if I had known that is how it would be monitored. That is setting the fox to watch the hen house and that is just plain wrong, wrong, wrong, and needs to be changed. We can do that by getting on the Commissioners’ Court agenda and bringing a crowd to the meeting to protest the way this is handled and demanding they make all inspections/inspectors County employees that cannot profit from the results of the inspections. I will support you and any other aerobic system owner in this matter to the fullest. I am glad I refused to let them make me get an aerobic system when we built our house 17 1/2 years ago. We have never had to have our system pumped out or worked on and it remains odor free, and the leeching field dry to this day. You will have to see Dusty Renfro to get on the agenda. Good luck there, you will need it.

  13. I am curious as to why all this hubbub since the ordinance is 5 years old. What has happened? I know next to nothing about aerobic systems and did not know they have to be pumped out.

  14. I have had my system for 11 years! My husband got the code books and read them because he was annoyed with having to pay rent on something we owned. When he decided to fight it he was hit with all kinds of intimidating letters from the county and then had a hearing on it. He asked for a jury trial because the TX codes said we did not have to have a contract and that was the issue. However we found out through the Prosecutor you had to know what to ask for at the county clerks office to find out there was a county order that supersedes the state law. This order was not posted on county website and one of our County Commissioners who I asked about the law before the hearing did not even know such a county order existed so how were we to find it. The court said our fight was with Commissioners court and they understood this was more of a political statement on our part to fight this. Anyway my Hubby pleaded no contest and was given 60 days to get a maintenance certification (that has nothing to do with maintenance but testing) the funny thing is, is that certification is through the state and the state does not require homeowners to do this in the first place! So a certification that will still cost us time and money will be useless because the state says we are exempt as homeowners from doing so! Catch 22 and a big waste of time. So now my Hubby is a misdemeanor lawbreaker for not signing a contract!!!! This is not about our septic system this is about a forced “sign this contract or you are a criminal” even though your septic has caused no public nuisance or health issues! Good grief!

    1. From Jack: Like I said Lynette, get a group of people together and go to Commissioners’ Court and demand that they modify the Ordinance to have ALL inspections done by County Health Dept. employees and rescind the part about a mandatory maintenance contract. A good argument for rescinding the mandatory maintenance contract is to include a clause in the Ordinance that a mandatory maintenance contract would only be required after an offender had been issued Three (3) citations for noxious odor or non-operation of their aerobic OR traditional septic system. That would weed out the bad apples and protect the innocent, who take proper care of their equipment, and allow punishment for those who do not. If you want something, give them something as an alternative.

    2. Lynette, I sure hope you will publish the minutes of your meeting with the commissioners court. I for one would be very interested in what they have to say.

  15. Senator Blutarsky

    Government at any level needs to keep their nose out of my septic system

  16. I would agree that some of our federal and state EPA measures are lax – I would suspect it has to do with a failed economy and lack of funds to enforce most of the restrictions and regulation. However, is public health where we want to CUT corners?!

    Why are you complaining that you have a Public Health officer who is actually doing their job and enforcing ordinances that are enacted by educated professionals in order to protect ALL residents of the county?

  17. My issue is not public safety.

    If it can be demonstrated that three inspections a year are required in order to insure public health and safety, I have no problem with having my system inspected thee times a year.

    It matters “WHO” does the inspections.

    The person doing the inspections should be employed by (or under contract directly to the authority) and be subject to TAC ethics provisions forbidding a conflict of interest.

    An inspector employed by the authority can not perform a service for compensation for the person he is inspecting.

    A maintenance provider performing the same inspection under contract to the homeowner has the same conflict of interest that an inspector employed by the authority would have, the only difference is the maintenance provider is not subject to the TAC ethics provisions.

    The maintenance contract was not designed to ensure public health and safety. It was designed to provide TOWA members a captive customer to be ripped off over and over again.

  18. If your aerobic system requires repair you have the option to provide that repair yourself or seek out ANY qualified and certified maintenance company to provide the repair. There is NO state or county law that forces a property owner to EMPLOY the “contracted” maintenance provider to perform the necessary repairs. The property owner IS allowed to ‘shop’ (if you will) and find a repair technician that meets their needs. Just as with any other maintenance issue with your home it seems that you would WANT the person with the experience of dealing with aerobic systems on a daily basis to perform your repairs.

    In comparison, if your home or auto air conditioner is ‘serviced’ and the state certified technician recommends you add freon – you are NOT allowed by law to perform that repair. A law is in place (and enforced by EPA) that gives ONLY certified personnel the authority to discharge the freon from air conditioning. That law was enacted in the best interests of the public – in the same way that these ‘wastewater’ laws were enacted.

  19. Hi Dee Scarbro, you sound like a TOWA member? You are uninformed on the law concerning Freon. As a state certified a/c technician for many years maybe I can help you out a little. The Freon regs were enacted in order to phase out F-11, F-12 and later F-22. I’m not aware of any law that bars an owner from adding Freon to his home or his auto a/c. F-134a the replacement for F-12 is readily available to anyone wanting to buy it and add to their auto a/c. The regulations have to do with the intentional release of CFCs into the open atmosphere. No home owner would have reason to do that. The regulations were enacted to control us certified technicians, get us to recover and recycle the Freon rather than dumping it into the atmosphere. Had nothing to do with an owner servicing his own a/c.

  20. Well, as you can tell, I am not as versed or informed of “freon” rules as you are because I am NOT in the business (as you are). I depend on – and take the advice of – my trained, experienced and certified A/C tech. He states that homeowners may not ‘reclaim’ freon which is why I believe I stated ‘discharge’ of freon. He didn’t give me all the “freon numbers” , etc just the basic details that he felt I should be able to comprehend and understand. I will always stand behind any EPA reg that protects our world – our air and water – so I support any regulation that pertains to the freon issue.

    I don’t disagree that a homeowner should be able to maintain his or her aerobic system. I agree with personal property rights. However, as I’ve said – I don’t believe my personal rights should overshadow yours.

    I can assure you that I would never attempt to service or maintain my air conditioner due to my lack of knowledge of it’s electrical components, etc.

    In that same respect, I maintain that aerobic systems are not quite as simple as presented and must be properly loaded, maintained and operated. The discharge from failed aerobics will be unpleasant (at minimum) and unsanitary. There will be one out of ten residents that will improperly operate their system – not necessarily from intent or neglect – but usually from lack of knowledge.

    We’ve always been willing to help our homeowners understand their septic system and it’s proper operation. I think an informed homeowner tends to operate their aerobic system proficiently.
    That’s the key term – informed. Many of our customers don’t have time nor desire to tackle the details of the aerobic system maintenance. i do believe that we are addressing public sanitary issues – not private issues – when the systems aren’t properly maintained and operated. Thus my support for stringent ordinances pertaining to subsurface discharge of treated effluent.

    1. Yes Dee you’re a/c guy is right, a homeowner is not allowed to deliberately discharge Freon, no one is. And yes you must be certified in order to legally reclaim Freon. But that is not what you were saying in your first post. Read it, you said (if your home or auto air conditioner is ‘serviced’ and the state certified technician recommends you add freon – you are NOT allowed by law to perform that repair.)

      You are being every bit as misleading and deceptive in you commits about the a/c as you are about the septic system and the service you provide.

      Your not even willing to be honest about what you are selling as a “maintenance Contract”.
      The contracts mandated by TCEQ do not provide any maintenance. All maintenance and repair is performed outside the contract at an extra charge. Read the reports detailing the services you perform during the three visits and you tell me what services performed constitutes maintenance.

      You are in fact performing three inspections a year under the contract.

      I would agree that the homeowner probably should be allowed to do inspections on the OSSF but that should not keep him from maintaining and repairing the system as he pleases.

      We have had a safety inspection system on the automobile for years and it works. The auto is much more complex and by far a greater threat to health and safety than the OSSF and you can do any maintenance or repair you wish on your auto. The only thing you can’t do is the inspections.

      If you guys want to do inspections on the OSSF fine, but don’t get greedy and try to force all homeowners to use you exclusively for the maintenance and repairs.

      Honesty is important and unrestrained access to a free and competitive marketplace is important.
      Far more important than a hysterically exaggerated threat to the watershed by the OSSF.

  21. For the record – I am not a TOWA member. I have been contacted by a few customers that are just asking ‘why’ the change after so many years of regulation and what my opinion on the issue would be. Again, I support property rights and privacy. I just hope this withdrawal of the ordinance will be in the best interests of all the residents.

    I think most people WILL want safe discharge onto their property but there will be those who do not comply with safe operation techniques. I know there are rules in place which should protect the innocent but It is sometimes difficult in an area (subdivision) with high concentration of homes to determine just where the ‘problem’ system is located. We’ve been on jobsites ourselves and smelled odorous discharge that we knew eminated from a (badly operated) aerobic system but couldn’t determine which property it was coming from.

    I am not a proponant of aerobic systems. However, I believe that the State approved aerobic treatment with subsurface discharge when it became evident that conventional treatment systems were failing.

    If I have a customer that asks about the possibility of subsurface pollution or groundwater contamination I have to admit that I don’t know all the finite details of the biology of those pathogens. I have to relay the information that was provided to me through TCEQ. I can only trust (or hope) that the Texas regulators retained educated biologists and scientists to study these disease causing pathogens and render their decisions (law making) based on those opinions and studies.

    If only 1/16th oz of sewage was added to a 2500 gallon tank of water I wouldn’t want to come in contact with the solution – much less drink from it. That’s my analogy to the groundwater contamination comparison. I just wouldn’t want to risk it. That is just the opinion of a grandmother wanting a safer, “greener” world for her children and grandchildren.

  22. The ’maintenance provider” doesn’t do a thing to address the problem of disease causing pathogens in the aerobic system discharge water. The homeowner maintains the supply of chlorine for the system. The chlorine controls the pathogens.

    According to a report by James McCaine TCEQ the evidence is minimal and inconclusive that OSSFs are major contributors to impaired watersheds I can send you the link to his report if you like.

  23. I’m sure glad we have a “traditional” septic system. our total maintenance for almost 18 years has been 1 box of RID-X at the first of each month, PERIOD!! We are careful to NOT use a lot of bleach or soap with bacteria killers, because the bacteria is what makes the septic system work. I know we will have to have it pumped out someday, but that doesn’t cost very much and in the meantime, I’m not “renting” my septic system. Having the inspections done by the repairman is setting the fox to watch the henhouse and should never have been done. This is a situation made ripe for abuse, and needs to be changed.

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