Septic Laws cause financial dilemma for Clallam County
By Lois Krafsky-Perry
Citizen Review (citizenreviewonline.org)
February 16, 2007
Clallam County, WA - Andy Brastad, Clallam County Environmental Health Director, spoke to the Clallam County Conservation District at their February 13 meeting in Port Angeles. Brastad alerted the members, most of them elected, of his concerns to implement new state requirements for local septic systems. The plan must be implemented by July 1, 2007. (Chapter 70-118A RCW).
A paramount concern for the large endeavor is financial resources and how the County may enforce the plan.
When the concern for moneys was expressed by Brastad, Bob Forde of Sequim. suggested, “I have a simple solution to the dilemma." He suggested that the fees - and any repairs required - be deducted from the landowner's annual real estate tax bill. Forde is an elected Board member.
How many people would have to be hired and how the County could pay for the new project is also a major concern. This new law has created a huge dilemma for the County. Not only for the county but for taxpayers as well.
Additional employees would have to be hired by the County to enforce the new law. The local environmental health is not equipped with enough personnel and the question arises, what other department could help enforce the new regulations? Fines for landowners found not in compliance could make additional hardships on the citizenry.
To prepare the plan, the County would like input and recommendations from the Work Group on the following topics:
· Identification of sensitive areas and marine recovery areas where on-site septic systems pose and increased public health risk. Development of supplemental O&M requirements in these areas may also be necessary. (WAC 246-272A-0015 and RCW 70.118A.040).
· A system to identify all on-site septic systems in the County (WAC 246-272A-0015 and RCW 70,118A.040) and requirements that OSS maintenance specialists, pumpers, and/or inspectors submit reports of O&M inspection results and failing on-site septic systems to the County (RCW 70.118A.060).
· A process for inspecting systems consisting of a septic tank and a gravity “Subsurface Soil Absorption System” (SSAS) at least once every three years and annual inspections of all other systems (WAC 246272A-0270).
· Enforcement provisions for all of the above requirements; and
· Funding provisions to finance the County’s programs as well as to offer financial assistance to owners of on-site septic systems. This will include assessing existing capacity.
[SUMMARY OF WORK GROUP PRELIMINARY RECOMMENDATIONS]
By July 1, 2007, the local health officers of health jurisdictions in the twelve counties bordering Puget Sound shall develop a written plan that will provide guidance to the local health jurisdiction regarding development and management activities for all OSS within the jurisdiction. The plan must specify how the local health jurisdiction will manage the following requirements. (WAC 246-272A-0015 Local Management Regulations)