Tuesday, 18 June 2024

Water Board starting over with clean slate on septic rules


SACRAMENTO – Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee Chairman Wesley Chesbro (D-First District) said Tuesday that the State Water Resources Control Board is making progress on new septic tank regulations that protect the environment without imposing financial hardship on property owners.

However, the committee he chairs approved legislation intended to continue legislative pressure for a new approach.

“Water Board representatives made it clear they have torn up the onerous regulations proposed late last year and are willing to start over with a clean slate,” Chesbro said after a Committee hearing Tuesday at which the Water Board staff reported on progress made in revising proposed rules to regulate septic systems under AB 885 (2000). “The Water Board is responding to the concerns of constituents whose pocket books will be affected by new regulations.”

Late last year the Water Board sparked controversy when it proposed new regulations under AB 885 (2000) that, among several new requirements, would have made regular inspections of septic systems mandatory.

After encountering severe opposition from septic system owners across the state who criticized the high costs associated with the proposed requirements, the Water Board decided to withdraw its proposals and start over. In Tuesday’s report to the Committee, Water Board representatives said the Board hopes to have the framework of new proposals ready by the end of summer.

“The Water Board staff learned a lesson about involving the public earlier in the process,” Chesbro said. “It’s hard to imagine what its staff was thinking with its earlier proposals in these economic times. The board’s new proposals must protect our water resources without overly burdening septic system owners.”

He added that too often the process takes place behind the scenes. “This time the Water Board needs to make sure the process is more transparent. This committee, on a bipartisan basis, will be monitoring the process. I have asked the Water Board to return late this summer for a progress report.”

The Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee approved AB 580 (Huber), which addresses some of the concerns expressed about AB 885, Tuesday afternoon.

Chesbro said AB 580 will be available if needed if the Water Board’s new proposals aren’t what the committee is expecting.

“We passed this bill with a bipartisan effort and we will move it to the governor’s desk in a bipartisan fashion if we need to,” Chesbro said.

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