Western UP Health Department

Leading The Community Toward Better Health

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WUPHD held an informational meeting on proposed changes to its long-standing sanitary (septic) health code on Monday, December 7th at 5:30 p.m. ET. The revised code will be known as the U. P. Environmental Health Code (UPEHC) and will apply to Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Keweenaw, and Ontonagon Counties.

The U.P. Environmental Health Code, is proposed to replace the existing Superior Environmental Health Code, which regulates on-site sewage systems and water wells for single and two family dwellings.  Revisions to the code were initiated in 2017 by the six local health departments of the Upper Peninsula and draft language was approved for review and comment in December 2019.  The proposed U.P. Environmental Health Code does not give any new authority to the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department. The primary changes to the Code affect the following:

  • Onsite Sewage Systems – Construction Standards
  • Public Swimming Pools – Certified Pool Operator

Proposed changes to construction standards of onsite sewage systems would provide consistency across the region for ease of use for contractors and engineering consultants that work in multiple jurisdictions. Several sewage system construction standards are being relaxed based on science-based data and will become less restrictive and more cost effective for property owners. The proposed code allows the continued use of some existing sewage systems at the time of real estate property transfers even if the existing system does meet all of the current standards. The proposed code also allows local permitting of small commercial sewage systems that previously required state permits or had been denied for not meeting the minimum state standards.

The Environmental Health Division of WUPHD currently has authority over twenty existing state codes.  The U.P. Environmental Health Code would add references to these documents to provide public transparency.  In addition, the appeals section of the proposed code provides clarification regarding which appeals shall be currently directed to the State versus which appeals can currently be handled locally.

The proposed U.P. Environmental Health Code does NOT propose any changes to the regulations affecting the following facilities regulated by the health department:

  • Food service establishments (restaurants/bars)
  • Body art establishments (tattoo and piercing)
  • Commercial on-site sewage systems >1,000 GPD flow
  • Water well construction
  • Hydraulic fracturing of water wells
  • Geothermal well construction
  • Well Abandonment and Plugging
  • Parcels of property less than 1 acre, subdivisions, site condominiums
  • Campgrounds
  • Septic tank pumping and land application of septage
  • Clandestine Drug Related Contamination such as methamphetamine
  • Public Health Nuisances

The proposed U.P. Environmental Health Code revision has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. No further Code revisions have been proposed since December 12, 2019.

Much of the proposed language in the Summary of Changes for the U.P.  Environmental Health Code is not language drafted by the health department, simply existing law language from the Michigan Public Health Code, Act 368, and P.A. 1978 as amended that has been added as reference for transparency purposes. See  (Mich. Comp. Laws) references throughout the document.  The Code only regulates Environmental Health Programs. The proposed U.P. Environmental Health Code does not have authority over Public Health Programs.  

The Upper Peninsula Environmental Health Code and summary of proposed changes can be found below:

Comments on the proposed changes may be submitted in person or in writing by completing and submitting the Public Comment Form below: