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Proposed septic tank regulations would burden residents

Residents encouraged to express opinions during public comment period
By: Senator Dave Cox
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The State Water Resources Control Board has proposed a new set of regulations governing the installation and inspection of all new and existing septic systems. The new regulations would take effect on January 1, 2010 and will have financial impact to residents who have septic tanks on their property. The regulations are required by a law that was passed by the Legislature in 2000. As I opposed the original legislation, I must also oppose the proposed regulations by the State Water Resources Control Board. As I stated in a recent letter to the water control board, the “one size fits all” approach of this legislation and the proposed regulations will not work well in rural communities, and they will place an excessive burden on homeowners throughout the state. These regulations would require inspection of all septic systems every five years for a fee of approximately $325. Homeowners with septic tanks within 600 feet of bodies of water already designated as “impaired” will be required to have a qualified professional determine whether the septic system is contributing to the impairment. If so, retrofit of the septic system with supplemental treatment will be required at an estimated cost of $45,000 according to an analysis by the California Farm Bureau Federation. Residents in rural communities are already feeling the financial pinch of the downturn in the economy. Overburdening homeowners with more regulations that will require them to spend more money that they don’t necessarily have is not the right approach. Septic tank spillage has not been a problem in the 1st Senate District. Apart from a minor sewage leak that occurred in Southern California, an incident that prompted this legislation, septic tanks have worked fairly well. These proposed regulations will affect the daily lives of many who live in Northern California. It is important that residents take the time to review the proposed regulations and voice their opinions. The email to submit comments is AB885@waterboards.ca.gov. For those who prefer to write a letter, the address is: 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 All comments must be received or postmarked on or before Monday, February 9, 2009. Senator Dave Cox represents the residents of the 1st Senate District, which includes all or portions of Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Lassen, Placer, Plumas, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Sacramento and Sierra Counties. Contact his office at (916) 651-4001, or via email at senator.cox@sen.ca.gov.