RELIEF MAY BE MILES AWAY - EPA Cracks Down On Rural Rest Rooms


COMMEN By Bob Weaver

The availability of public rest rooms, particularly in areas not served by a sewage system, is a real problem in rural West Virginia. Dozens of small Calhoun businesses from beauty parlors and grocery stores to garages, in fact every business not connected to the Grantsville wastewater system, are being required to meet new standards for maintaining a rest room.

Most rural businesses have closed their public restrooms, making it difficult to find the convenience. "The permit is complicated, and besides we cannot afford the fees," said a local business owner.

Another businessman told the The Hur Herald they invested several thousands of dollars in an approved system, but they are still required to go through the process and pay the fees. Most businesses have closed their rest rooms, placing "Employees Only" signs on the door.

The West Virginia Division of EPA, Office of Water Resources, is now enforcing the "underground injection control program." The small businesses are being required to complete an application to license their public rest room. The extensive application requires the owner to develop a topographic map extending one mile from their business site showing water supplies and septic systems.

The business owner is required to declare the average or maximum daily amount of disposal (feces, urine and water) with an analysis of the chemical and biological characteristics. Numerous other requirements are attached to the application. Each business must place a legal advertisement in a local newspaper denoting the permit application.

The annual toilet permit fee ranges from $50 to $1500, depending upon the volume of disposal. The discharge must be evaluated. The fees are charged despite evidence of approved septic systems.

The EPA appears to be making an assumption "modern" sewage disposal systems are available. In West Virginia only 50% of the state has sewage disposal. Some rural Calhoun businesses are required to have a public rest room, like restaurants or automotive inspection stations. "We do not have the luxury of placing an "Employees Only" sign on our rest room door," said a restaurant owner. "I don't know what we are going to do."

One local business is maintaining a tin can, requesting donations for a "Crapper Fund." Residents may revert to pioneer disposal during their travels, out of view relief behind trees.

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