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Officials oppose California septic changes

Nick Cruit
Sierra Sun

PLACER COUNTY ” The Placer County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously this week to strongly oppose proposed state regulations that would create statewide minimum standards for both new and existing septic systems, regulations that add costs for residents with septic tanks, officials say.

The regulations proposed by the California State Water Resources Control Board would implement AB 885, a law approved in 2000 that seeks to prevent the discharge of pollutants into waterways.

But according to Fifth District Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery, the regulations are “intrusive, expensive and unneeded.”

While much of the Tahoe Basin is incorporated into sewer districts, and consequently not affected by the regulations, there are some areas of Placer County that require septic systems; the Martis Creek area on Highway 89 is one example, according to Placer County Environmental Health Director Jill Pahl.

Pahl said they have done a good job adding sewage lines around parts around the lake, but there are still some areas off the immediate lake shore that are on septic systems.

If the regulations are approved, homeowners will be required to have the solids level in their septic systems inspected every five years at an estimated cost of $325. And if that solids level exceeds 25 percent of what the system can hold, homeowners could be looking at a bill of $500-$600 to have the system pumped, said Pahl.

Opposition isn’t just coming from local officials, however. Senator Dave Cox recently released an op-ed piece in which he said the “one size fits all” approach of this legislation and the proposed regulations will not work well in rural communities and will place an excessive burden on homeowners throughout the state.

“Residents in rural communities are already feeling the financial pinch of the downturn in the economy,” wrote Sen. Cox. “Overburdening homeowners with more regulations that will require them to spend more money that they don’t necessarily have is not the right approach.”

The state Water Board has set Feb. 9 as the deadline for receiving public comments.

The regulations are to take effect on Jan. 1, 2010.

Comments to the State Water Resources Control Board regarding the proposed changes must be received or postmarked on or before Feb. 9. Comments may be sent to the state at AB885@waterboards.ca.gov or to:

The State Water Resources Control Board

Division of Water Quality

Attn: Todd Thompson, P.E.

1001 I Street, 15th Floor

P.O. Box 2231

Sacramento, CA 95812

Questions can be addressed to Todd Thompson at the State Board, (916) 341-5518


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