Septic tank bill clears first hurdle

By: Staff report
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The bill authored by Assemblywoman Alyson Huber, of El Dorado Hills, to address proposed state septic tank regulations was approved with bipartisan support in its first committee hearing Tuesday. Assembly Bill 580 seeks to encourage the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to develop septic standards that can be adapted to different regions and work to allow for minimal impact and cost on rural homeowners and businesses. The bill also seeks to aid the SWRCB in drafting standards by amending the current statute, should it be necessary. “The public concern we have seen over the current proposed septic tank regulations is well warranted,” said Huber. “A statewide, one-size-fits-all approach is not the answer and would negatively impact rural homeowners and businesses. We need regional flexibility in these regulations to deal with the realties of a large and geographically diverse state.” The Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials voted unanimously to pass AB 580 after hearing testimony from representatives from the Regional Council of Rural Counties, the American Council of Engineering Companies of California and the counties of Placer, Yuba, Fresno and Humbolt. The bill also earned the support of Assemblyman Ted Gaines (R-Roseville), Assemblyman Dan Logue (R-Linda) and Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro (D-Arcata) who have agreed to be co-authors. AB 885 (Jackson), as approved by the Legislature and Governor in 2000, allowed the SWRCB to adopt regulations on septic tanks for the purpose of protecting the state’s ground water supply. In October of 2008, the SWRCB produced draft regulations in accordance with AB 885. The proposed regulations put forth last fall by the SWRCB would apply uniformly throughout the state, providing no flexibility to take into account the diverse geographical, hydro-geological, demographic, and other physical and social characteristics that exist across California, according to a press release issued by Huber's office.