Yes, your suspicions are correct, I am a septic system consultant. One of the few Americans that is not offended by the common Australian description, “Septic Tank Yank”, or Sepo. In the past, I actually performed the installation of the engineered designs, which I have developed over my 26 years in the trade. Presently, I am just doing the design work. Don’t have the time, nor the desire to do the construction. I am a licensed installer, however unfortunately, it is not difficult to become licensed to install Individual Sewage Disposal Systems in Colorado. Many jurisdictions in my state do not require septic system installers to be licensed. Each County Health Department has the authority to devise their own regulations, which are based on the Colorado State Health Department’s Guidelines.
There are 64 Counties in Colorado, and about 45 Septic System Regulatory Agencies, each with their own set of regulations. The terrain, and environments are quite diverse in my state, ranging from very flat, arid range land at 3,000 feet (915 meters)to 4,000 feet (1,220 meters)in elevation on the Eastern plains, to the rugged Colorado Rocky Mountains with peaks to over 14,200 feet (4,330 meters) in elevation. Some counties are so sparsely populated and remote, that they are not threatened with the potential of a proliferation of dense development. These counties cannot financially support, nor can they justify having an environmental health department. Any septic systems that are installed in these jurisdictions are regulated, and permitted by the Colorado State Health Department’s District Engineer. The Counties that are experiencing rapid growth, those that are in the mountains or adjacent to the major metropolitan areas, are intensely regulated.
The Professional Plumbers in Colorado are regulated by the building departments of the political jurisdiction in which they work. Sometimes that is a County Building Department, or a Municipal Building Department. Each jurisdiction adopts the plumbing code which they desire. Homeowners do have the right to do their own plumbing, but they are supposed to obtain permits and inspections for major plumbing projects. Most of the time, it has been my observation, permits and inspections are not obtained when one is performing plumbing work in his own home.
In all new homes, or major remodel jobs the plumbing is performed by Licensed Master Plumbers, and in most instances, his work is inspected by experienced, professional plumbing inspectors. Yes, Licensed Master Plumbers are paid hansomely here, but in my view, they earn every dollar that they make. The cost of doing business in most parts of the USA is very high, when one considers the high cost of overhead, taxes, licenses, insurances, and continueing education in ones chosen trade. I am sure that you have to contend with the same issues in Australia.
I did notice a sharp decline in business activity after the September 11th atrocity which occurred in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.. In conversations with other tradesmen in the various building trades, they also experienced a decline in work on new construction. Business traditionally slows down in Colorado during the winter months, but this winter it seems to be slower than in winters over the past few years. I anticipate that as soon as spring arrives, we will all be as busy as we wish to be.
Well Bob, I must replace a failed float switch, which controls a sewage effluent pump, on a system that I installed only 3 years ago. I have installed many systems which required pressure effluent facilities, and this is the first time that I have had a problem with a float switch. So long for now, it was nice chatting with you.
John Aldrich (Septic Tank Yank)
Septic System Consultant
Timnath, Colorado USA