With certain areas of concern in regards to septic systems, Summit County Manager Bob Jasper says the county will be getting more strict about granting approvals for new septic tanks, and is looking to expand the role of sewer systems in certain neighborhoods.

Jasper said neighborhoods where septic systems are beginning to present problems include Highland Estates, Moose Hollow and Silver Creek. Other areas on the East Side are being looked at as well, including on Hoytsville Road near Coalville.

Trever Johnson, Coalville's recently elected mayor, spoke with Jasper recently about the possibility of utilizing the city's new wastewater treatment plant to extend a sewer system to Hoytsville Road.

"It was a very constructive conversation. I think we have a base to build something on," Johnson said. "As long as we can handle the flow, the more users [there are], the more solvent the plant is."

Jasper said that, if sewer is extended to Hoytsville Road, it could set the stage for a greater amount of approved density. He said the county would go through a planning process where they would seek neighborhood input on sewer and try to decipher how much density would make sense in that area.

Johnson said there is some risk inherent in the amount of demand that is put on the land near Hoytsville, as the neighborhood relies on septic tanks.

"As the community grows and more demand is put on the same infrastructure, we have to look for alternative ways to manage that," Johnson said. "We're interested in exploring those options and we look forward to hashing out the details."

Silver Creek sewer

The recently approved Woodside development adjacent to Silver Creek had requested the installation of septic systems, Jasper said, but Health Department Director Richard Bullough refused to sign off on the request, saying the water table in the area is too high.

The developers of Woodside then paid for an extension of the Snyderville Basin's sewer line to bring sewer in to the area, which Jasper said is "a big change from how we operated a decade ago."

This extension of sewer to Woodside could allow the opportunity to bring sewer to older areas of Silver Creek, Jasper said. However, residents would have to find a way to pay for that sewer. He suggested that an assessment district or other funding method would have to be utilized.

"I don't think the general taxpayers should be paying for people who have failed septic systems [so they can] pay for their sewer," Jasper said. "Everybody else paid for their own sewer."

Included in Jasper's budget recommendation is $50,000 allocated to the Health Department's budget for technical and consulting-related needs for sewer implementation and planning. The Health Department is also requesting reestablishment of an entry-level environmental health scientist, which is needed to implement wastewater policies and conduct air quality monitoring.

Jasper said resolving septic system issues and transitioning to sewer could present challenges, but stressed that septic tanks present public health threats, most notably to soil and water quality.

"Some people will say, 'My septic system works just fine, why should I have to go on sewer?' but their neighbors' systems may be failing. How do we approach that?" Jasper said.