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Montezuma Commissioners Ertel, Lambert Block Suckla's Attempt to Undo Septic System Regulations

Creative Commons

Montezuma County Commissioner Larry Don Suckla failed Monday in what he said was an effort to protect dwindling private property rights. He made a motion to undo septic-system regulations that had been adopted unanimously by the commission earlier this year, but it failed for lack of a second. Suckla said he’d reconsidered those regulations, which require inspections of older septic systems whenever a house is going to be sold, and now believes they were a mistake.

But county sanitarian Melissa Mathews said public health is all about preventing problems, not dealing with them after they occur. Commissioner Keenan Ertel said while he agreed with Suckla in principle, this was a health concern. Ertel said he’d seen a county residence whose septic system consisted of a white PVC pipe running into a ditch.

Ertel said, “As we continue to overpopulate our globe, it’s going to become more of an issue.”

Lambert agreed, saying he knew of a place where sewage ran into a borrow ditch for two years and nothing was done about it. Lambert said unfortunately, people don’t always govern themselves.

Suckla suggested it was time to rethink the county’s three-acre minimum lot size if septic regulations are going to be “so strict.” He questioned whether people were truly being harmed by sanitation problems and said the rules were “opening up a can of worms.” But Mathews said there had already been a dozen septic-system failures in the county this year.

Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal. She is currently a freelance writer as well as the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.