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Rural Counties Fight to Control Septic Systems

State Hearings got  underway earlier this week on proposed septic system regulations under AB 885 that could have a major impact on the cost, size, and type of systems in the state.  Supervisor Nate Beason  is Nevada County’s representative on  the Rural Council of Rural Counties and  he spoke on behalf of all California counties before the State Water Resources Control Board Wednesday  on their final draft of a policy to be used in siting, design, operation, and maintenance of onsite waste water treatment systems. He shared that the septic tank permitting requirements for homeowners and counties are too stringent, costly, and would be better handled locally.
click to hear Nate Beason

Among other things, AB 885 requires the State Water Board  to develop statewide standards for all new  onsite wastewater treatment systems (OWTS) ,including septic tank systems, with particular attention to failing systems and those located adjacent to impaired surface water bodies. The Board’s current policy proposal provides procedural and technical details explain­ing how the policy will be implemented statewide. Generally, there are no new requirements for existing residential septic systems, pro­vided these systems are functioning properly and are not near one of the impaired water bodies identified in the policy.

The proposed policy does impose some new pre­scrip­tive stand­ards on all new and replacement OWTS, and local agencies would be given permit­ting authority for these systems only if a local agency management plan for OWTS is formally approved by a regional or State water board within five years following the effective date of the policy. In counties without an approved local agency management plan, property owners would be subject to new highly restrictive OWTS siting and design criteria that effectively preclude installing OWTS on many existing and new lots throughout Cali­fornia.


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