Sewage dispute erupts again.
SAGINAW - The Saginaw Mobile Home Park's owner is in trouble over raw sewage - once again.
State environmental officials have fined the owner, Michael Brown of Oakland in Douglas County, $6,158 for allowing raw sewage to flow onto the grounds of the 41-space mobile home park, for failing to renew his state septic system permit and for failing to submit required periodic septic system reports.
Brown has until early May to contest the fine. He could not immediately be reached for comment.
It's but the latest instance in recent years that the mobile home park on Highway 99 north of Cottage Grove has been in trouble with authorities. Brown, who has owned the park since 2007, and prior owners have been fined for a variety of problems, including sewage discharge, building and electrical permit violations, and trash accumulations. In 2004, Lane County shut down the park and evicted all the tenants, after which a new owner began a cleanup and repairs.
A state Department of Environmental Quality specialist, Dan Wiltze, visited the site last October in response to a sewage complaint. Wiltze said he found signs of raw sewage leaking onto the ground surface from a clogged sewage collection pipe.
That came on top of Brown's failure to renew his state septic system permit, which expired on Aug. 31, 2010, and later failure to send copies of semiannual inspections of the septic system to DEQ, Wiltze said.
Wiltze said it appears that in about 2012, Brown terminated his contract with a septic field maintenance company that was inspecting the system.
It's the second time since Brown took over ownership of the park that the state has cited him for sewage violations. The state in 2009 levied a $10,337 fine against him for surface discharge of sewage. In that case, Brown was using about 20 feet of pipe to channel partially treated sewage from a sewage holding tank directly into an open ditch, rather than into the park's sewage drainfield, where the sewage is supposed to percolate into the ground.
Brown also failed to perform monthly, quarterly, semiannual and annual monitoring and sampling of the sewage system for much of 2007 and 2008, the DEQ said in that case.
Brown has never paid that fine. The DEQ has placed a lien on the property in an attempt to collect, said Esther Westbrook, a DEQ environmental law specialist. Interest accrues at 9 percent a year, according to the lien document.
The DEQ notes that raw sewage on the ground can spread disease through bacteria and viruses and pollute waterways and harm aquatic life.
The DEQ said it has given Brown until April 28 to apply for a new permit, which would cost $3,768. That would be in addition to the fine, although the DEQ might cut the fine if Brown agrees to comply, Wiltze said.
Brown bought the site in 2007 from Gary Kuebler, who in 2004 had bought it from longtime owner Tracy Olsen. Olsen had been at war with Lane County regulators for years over a slew of property violations. Olsen claimed he held the property in a form of trust ownership that was exempt from government regulation. In 2006, Olsen paid off in full the $57,330 lien the county had placed on him to cover fines and other penalties, according to a county document releasing the lien.
Still unpaid by Olsen, however, are $103,148 in liens filed against him by the Internal Revenue Service between 2006 and 2011 for federal income taxes he owes for the years 1999 to 2003, according to liens filed with Lane County Deeds & Records. Olsen could not be reached for comment by The Register-Guard.