The main differences from the County’s current septic system policy in the proposed manual include:
- Permit Types. There are three types of permits: new, replacement and repair. New OWTS serve undeveloped properties. Replacement OWTS are for tank replacements and/or dispersal system replacements for developed sites (previously known as a voluntary repair). Repair OWTS allow for the relatively minor work: distribution box, valves, etc.
- Classifications. Class I, II and III classifications would be replaced with references to either Code Compliant or Legal Non-Conforming systems
- Code Compliant OWTS means a system that is in conformance with this OWTS Manual, or meets the intent of the standards by proposing mitigation measures that are equal to the standards. A Code Complaint OWTS can be new or existing.
- Variances. Code compliant does not mean that you need a new system or that you meet each and every standard. The County allows variances from the standards provided sufficient mitigation is provided. The proposed policy allows more variance issues and more mitigation measures.
- Voluntary Repairs. Previous voluntary repairs regulations would be eliminated. Typical voluntary repairs include replacing dispersal systems. A new or replacement dispersal system must meet a two (2) foot separation to groundwater, have adequate soil type and depth, and be designed by an appropriately licensed professional defined as qualified consultants in the State Business and Professions Code.
- Building Permits. Prior policies required a septic evaluation for most building permits. The proposed policy requires a septic system evaluation or possibly a new code compliant system only when the project increases wastewater flow and/or strength to the existing system. The proposed policies also evaluates the location of the proposed building/construction relative to the septic system and reserve area. The intent is to avoid physical impacts to the septic system. In certain cases, reserve replacement areas will be evaluated or required.
- Alternative & Experimental Systems. The proposed policy expands the list of currently approved and conditionally acceptable experimental and/or alternative systems and elaborates on the criteria and process to enroll various innovative technology/systems into either the experimental system program and/or the alternative system program.
- Financial Hardship. The propose policy creates financial hardship provisions, that if meet, would exempt a client from the standards. The septic system would need to comply with the standards to maximum extent feasible.
- Waiver. The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board adopted a revised Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements that now includes OWTS that cannot meet the two (2) foot separation to groundwater. If the system cannot meet the two (2) foot separation standard, the client would have to apply to the NCRWQCB for their wavier. Local agencies cannot waive this standard according to the State’s OWTS Policy, but will act as the technical lead for review.