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July 18, 2007


Mahoning County District Board of Health Honored for Excellence in Public Health


Public Health Program is One of 29 Nationwide to Receive “Model Practice Award”



Columbus, Ohio – The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) honored the Mahoning County District Board of Health today for implementing a program that demonstrates exemplary and replicable qualities in response to a local public health need. Promoting Septic System Maintenance with a Tank Pumping Tracking and Reminder Registry is one of 29 local public health programs selected from across the nation to receive NACCHO’s Model Practice Award.


Program Description:

A 1997 grant from the Ohio Environmental Education Fund provided start-up funds for an educational program for septic system maintenance that resulted in the creation of a database registry populated with all available information about household sewage

treatment systems (HSTS) in the health district. Pumping reminder letters to homeowners are generated from this registry by a custom application written for the District Board of Health by CHC Software, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio for its Health District Information SystemTM (HDIS) software.

   The HSTS owners’ name and addresses are merged with a formatted pumping reminder letter that advises the homeowner of the benefits of regular pumping and a list of registered tanks cleaners. This letter is also accompanied by an Ohio State University Fact Sheet on septic system maintenance. The reminders are mailed via regular mail and undeliverable notices or addresses are cross-referenced with the Mahoning County Auditor records and field verified by a sanitarian.  

   The reminder letters are mailed to eligible homes once each year with each of the 14 townships in the health district targeted for a mailing. During a designated month of the year HDIS filters out the HSTS in the targeted townships for which a pumping report has not been received from a registered tank cleaner (required for each tank pumped) within the last 36 months, or that have been newly installed during this time period. Advanced notices of these mailings are provided to township officials and local media have successfully publicized the reminder program through articles and public service announcements. The Board of Health mailed 41,308 reminder notices and received 15,559 pumping reports from registered tank cleaners between January 1, 1998 and December 31, 2005.  The response to the pumping reminder mailings was most evident in the first two years of the program. Before the first reminders were mailed, the Board of Health only received 49 pumping reports (first half of 1997). The number of pumping reminders has declined since 2002: homeowners who have their septic tanks pumped every three years do not receive a reminder, resulting in fewer reminder mailings being generated by the tracking and reminder registry each year.

Statistical analysis of Mahoning County HSTS that were evaluated from 1/1/00 through 12/31/06 (home pre-sale evaluations) indicate that homes that have had their septic tanks pumped within the 3 years prior to the evaluation are four times more likely to be functioning properly.



“We are proud to receive NACCHO’s Model Practice Award.  The award is evidence of our commitment to develop responsive and innovative public health programs that improve the health of local citizens,” said Mahoning County Health Commissioner Mathew Stefanak, MPH.


A committee of peers selected the Mahoning County District Board of Health from a group of 118 local health department applications.  The Model Practice Awards program honors initiatives – including programs, resources, and tools – that demonstrate how local health departments and their community partners can effectively collaborate to address local public health concerns.  Promoting Septic System Maintenance with a tank Pumping Tracking and Reminder Registry will become part of an online, searchable database of successful public health practices in areas ranging from immunization and maternal and child health to infectious diseases and emergency preparedness.  The database will allow NACCHO to share information about what is working across the county in local public health.


“The Mahoning County District Board of Health joins a special group of health departments that exemplify the forward thinking, proactive attitude of our nation’s public health system,” said NACCHO President Bobby Pestronk.  “NACCHO congratulates The Mahoning County District Board of Health on this important recognition.”


The District Board of Health is a public agency that provides public health services to the 163,773 residents of the Mahoning County General Health District.   The Mahoning health district comprises the townships and villages of Mahoning County and contracts with the cities of Canfield and Campbell.    The District Board of Health is here to protect citizens of Mahoning County from health hazards and promote healthy lifestyles. Please visit our website at


For more information about the NACCHO Model Practice Awards, go to