In Clermont County, private water systems are generally used in areas where public water is unavailable. These private water systems are installed under regulations established by the Ohio Department of Health and inspected at the time of installation. There are no inspections conducted after the initial installation inspection unless one is requested by the homeowner or a potential purchaser.
All systems are accepted as operating properly as long as the sample taken from the system is found to be free of fecal contamination. An older system may be upgraded at the discretion of the owner. Any upgrades to your private water system must be reviewed and approved through a permit from Clermont County Public Health.
Under current ODH regulations, there are several water sources that may be used to provide raw water for a private water system. These include cisterns, wells, springs, and ponds. The geology of Clermont County generally will not support the use of wells and by far the most prevalent private water system in the county is the cistern. There is no regulation that requires a home to be connected to a public water system so the decision to connect is left up to the homeowner.
During a loan inspection, all components of the system will be visually observed including the pump, filters, and disinfection unit if present. Access to look inside the cistern will need to be provided. Chlorine concentration will be checked prior to collection of the water sample.
Some things that need to be taken into consideration prior to scheduling an inspection are:
If your cistern has an automatic chlorinator it is important to check the water for the presence of chlorine to ensure it is operating properly. If you are unsure if chlorine is present in the water it is suggested that the water is checked for the presence of chlorine with a chlorine test kit. Chlorine test kits can be purchased from most swimming pool supply stores. If your cistern does not have an automatic chlorinator no chlorine can be present at the time of collection of the water sample. When you are ready to schedule your inspection it will be necessary to make arrangements to have someone there to meet the sanitarian at the site.
Water samples are analyzed at the lab and checked for the presence of indicator organisms specifically total coliform and E. coli. Since these are indicator organisms this means that if these organisms are present in the water sample results the conditions that are present in your private water system and/or plumbing may be suitable for harmful pathogenic bacteria to exist. An informative fact sheet referred to as Coliform Bacteria Fact Sheet is available on Ohio Department of Health’s website. These parameters are the only parameters that are tested for in the water sample tested by Public Health. Any other parameters would need to be tested for by a private water lab. Once a sample is collected and analyzed if any of these indicator organisms are present in the water sample results the sample is considered unacceptable. Usually, the first course of action that is recommended is disinfection of the private water system. Once a thorough disinfection has been performed arrangements can be made with Public Health to have the water retested. Again just as a reminder unless your private water system has an automatic chlorinator no chlorine can be present in the water at the time of resampling.