Attorney hit with fees

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 2, 1999

for sanitation violation


Staff Writer

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Published Nov. 2, 1999

Troy attorney Timothy J. Magee was found guilty and fined $300 plus court costs for unsanitary operation of a sewage disposal system.

The case of "State of Alabama v. Magee" was decided Oct. 24 in the court of District Judge Steven E. Blair.

The charge stemmed from complaints lodged by Pike County Health Department officials and tenants of Southland Village Trailer Park, who alleged septic tanks on the property were malfunctioning. They stated raw sewage sometimes percolated from disposal systems at the trailer park, creating a health hazard.

Magee pled not guilty to the charge, which is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine. He was arrested on a warrant May 8

Magee was charged with a violation of Code of Alabama 22-26-1. According to the law, it is a misdemeanor to maintain an insanitary sewage collection facility or one that is likely to be a menace to public health.

The state board of health and county boards of health require property owners to install facilities that allow for proper disposal.

Louis F. "Sonny" Williford, health department environmentalist, said the problem began in the summer of 1998 when residents at the trailer park and owners of adjacent property complained to the health department that septic systems there were malfunctioning.

"Those systems are not properly sized for the number of people who are using them," Williford said. "They are more than 25 years old and are overused.

"Any system will fail overtime if it is abused and overloaded. That’s when the system backs up and raw sewage flows to the surface."

That’s exactly what Williford alleged happened at Southland Village Trailer Park.

When raw sewage flows to the surface, it creates "a serious health hazard," said M. Britton Kelly, area 10 environmental director for Alabama Department of Public Health. "Anytime human excretia is deposited on the soil’s surface, there is the potential for microbial pathogens, hepatitis, typhoid fever and salmonella."

Pests, including rats and fleas, that come in contact with the raw sewage can spread other diseases, he said.

Residents who are served by the City of Troy Waste water Treatment Plant have their sewage treated there. But people who live outside the system, like residents at Southland Village Trailer Park, must rely on septic tank systems.

A septic tank system takes waste from the toilet inside a residence and delivers it through pipes to a septic tank, where the waste is separated from the water, Williford said. The water goes into a disposal field where it is absorbed by the soil, and waste stays in the septic tank.

He said residents of several trailers use each of the septic systems.