The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) today postponed a hearing on proposed statewide regulations for septic systems. The original hearing date was scheduled for Feb. 9, 2009, in Sacramento. A new hearing date will be announced at a later time. After receiving public input, the Water Board delayed the hearing and instructed Water Board staff to rewrite the regulations. Additionally, the public comment period on the proposed regulations has been extended until Feb. 23, 2009.
The Placer County Board of Supervisors this week voted unanimously to strongly oppose the proposed state regulations. Placer County has approximately 26,000 septic systems that would be affected.
To read the Board of Supervisors letter to the State Water Board, click this link: Letter TO SWRCB .
“It looks to me we’re united in our opposition to this,” Chairman Rocky Rockholm said at the Supervisors’ Tuesday meeting. “This is another case of: if it isn’t broken, they don’t need to fix it.”
“Your voices are loud and clear,” said 5th District Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery at Tuesday’s meeting. “I will be carrying them with me to Sacramento.”
Montgomery intends to address the Water Board when they hold their public hearing on the proposed regulations.
Supervisor Jim Holmes said he will voice his opposition through his role as an executive board member of the Regional Council of Rural Counties. Holmes said he will continue to address the proposed regulations with state legislators.
The State Water Board’s regulations would create statewide minimum standards for both new and existing septic systems. Legislation passed in 2000 requires the Water Board pass regulations to prevent the discharge of pollutants into ground and surface water.
In a report to the Board of Supervisors, county Environmental Health Director Jill Pahl noted several concerns about the proposed regulations:
- They would impose additional costs on property owners with new or existing septic systems. Every five years, owners would be required to have systems inspected and any onsite water wells tested. The cost of each is projected to be approximately $325. In addition, new septic systems and major repairs to existing systems would be significantly more costly.
- The regulations would result in an increased need for facilities to dispose of and treat wastes from septic systems. Placer County only has only one privately owned septage disposal facility and it does not have the capacity to meet the increased need expected if the regulations are approved.
- No appropriate scientific basis has been established for many of the proposed requirements.
- Unfunded mandates would be imposed on Placer County and other local governments. The proposed regulations do not contain appropriate guidelines or funding for implementation.
- Enforcement is not addressed in the proposed regulations and no process for providing variances to the standards is provided.
Environmental Health has made presentations to county municipal advisory councils as part of an outreach campaign aimed at informing the public about the proposed state regulations. The presentations to the MACs explain the state regulatory process and differences between the state’s proposed regulations and current county standards.
The new regulations would address:
- Where septic systems may be located;
- How permits must be obtained;
- How systems must be constructed;
- When and where they may be operated;
- What maintenance is required; and
- What performance levels they must meet.
Placer County is providing these links to the SWRCB's website on the proposed septic regulations: Main Page; Executive Summary; and Questions and Answers.
Comments to the State Water Resources Control Board regarding the proposed changes must be received or postmarked on or before Feb. 23, 2009. 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 or email@example.com.
The Notice of the State Water Resources Control Board’s postponement of the Feb. 9, 2009, hearing is available at: State Water Board Notice.