Commissioners asked to challenge DEQ
October 25, 2017
A resident who claims a simple septic-system request has turned into a Department of Environmental Quality nightmare asked the Sweetwater County Commissioners to take on the DEQ for him.
After a lengthy discussion and advice from Sweetwater County deputy attorney James Schermetzler, the Commissioners told resident Rex Rammel he was on his own if he wanted to fight the DEQ.
Rammel, a local veterinarian, approached the Commissioners at the last meeting to discuss the problems he’s been having trying to get a septic-system permit for a dog kennel he is going to open.
Rammel said the process for opening his cremation system went alright, but the septic-system process has been challenging to say the least.
“It’s a simple septic system. It’s for dog waste,” Rammel said. “These guys (the DEQ) are putting me into a hazardous waste category.”
Rammel said he wanted the kennel to be up before the holidays because that’s when people need their dogs kenneled the most. He said the DEQ is telling him he needs permits for a leach field, a holding tank and they want him to build a lagoon.
“Isn’t this a little excessive for a kennel?” Rammel said. “The DEQ has taken up so much power that when it gets to the DEQ the county bows down to them.”
Rammel said when he requested to be on the Commissioners’ agenda, he knew it was unlikely he’d receive any help, but he wanted to try.
“I don’t know what you can do,” Rammel said. “I can’t take on a lawsuit with DEQ over a kennel. Every time I try to follow the rules, this is what happens.”
Commissioner Wally Johnson said if DEQ is reviewing it, the matter is under that agency now and there’s not much the Commission can do.
“I think the county Commissioners can do something,” Rammel said.
Commission Chairman Reid West agreed with Johnson saying the Commissioners need to follow state laws and they don’t have the power to override a DEQ decision. West encouraged Rammel to take the issue up with DEQ.
“I don’t blame you for being frustrated,” West said.
Commissioner John Kolb said in the business he is in he has to deal with DEQ all of the time and it’s not fun, but it’s something he’s stuck with.
“Let me get the permit and I believe the DEQ will roll over,” Rammel pleaded. “It’s a small thing. Sweetwater County could take on the DEQ. Gentlemen, this is an opportunity to do something about these people.”
The Commissioners then sought advice from Schermetzler, who simply said it’s a DEQ issue.
Commissioner Don Van Matre said if the attorney said no, it’s a no for him too.
“I can handle this. It isn’t the end of my life,” Rammel said. “I’m not going to sue the DEQ over this. I don’t have that many fights left in me.”