Health board advances water well ordinance to Wayne County commissioners

RICHMOND, Ind, — Soon property owners might need a Wayne County permit to dig a water well.

The county’s Board of Health on Thursday amended a proposed ordinance, then recommended its approval. It now goes before the county’s commissioners for their consideration. If they pass the ordinance, it takes effect.

Christine Stinson, the executive director of the Wayne County Health Department, presented the ordinance that was opposed by representatives of L.M. Kettler Waterwell Drilling of Richmond. They said the ordinance duplicates state requirements and creates unnecessary extra work.

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Property owners now must apply for a permit and present a schematic drawing of the well’s location to the health department. Stinson said the process provides checks and balances to ensure wells are drilled appropriate distances from contamination sources, such as septic systems.

The health department will provide water testing after a well is drilled to ensure safe drinking water, and a drilling log that’s already supplied to the state must be provided to the local health department.

In opposing the ordinance, Kettler’s representatives said the Indiana Department of Natural Resources already requires the same measures from licensed well drillers. If there’s a problem, it comes back to the company to solve, without the health department in the middle. Kettler is one of three Wayne County companies licensed to provide water source work, according to a DNR list.

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Stinson said property owners and Realtors with whom she speaks assume there are permits and water tests already when, in fact, there are not.

The health board removed from the ordinance a maintenance and repair section that would have required a permit and 24 hours notice of planned maintenance. The health department, again, would test the water and recommend it not be consumed until negative test results are obtained.

“I think it’s still worthwhile without the maintenance and repairs,” Stinson said. “The most valuable part is the placement and testing. Maintenance and repairs is a secondary part. I think maintenance and repairs can be taken out and it’s a good ordinance.”

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The health board also passed a fee ordinance that will charge $150 for the well permits.

Another fee change involves splitting the $400 permit fee for septic systems into three parts. The ordinance calls for a $25 fee for soil reports, a $275 fee for a plan review and a $100 permit fee.

Stinson said that in the past some applications would advance through a couple of stages without being completed. In those instances, the health department would invest time and work but never collect the fee, which was payable during the final stage.

COVID-19 testing

Stinson said the health department was awaiting delivery from the state of COVID-19 home test kits that will be distributed to county residents.

The state grant that funds COVID-19 testing expires at the end of June; therefore, the health department at this point plans to no longer provide COVID-19 testing effective July 1. Home tests will be available as well as testing at doctor’s offices and pharmacies.

The county’s COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have declined. The Indiana State Department of Health’s Wednesday update shows 15 cases through the first 19 days of April, including just three cases from April 12. Reid Health’s update this week reported one COVID-19 patient.

This article originally appeared on Richmond Palladium-Item: Wayne County Indiana water well ordinance advanced by health board