Friday, August 12, 2022
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Existing conditions

The City of Atascadero (City) regulates the installation of septic systems based on the requirements set forth in the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) Basin Plan, which was approved by the State of California (State) in 1983. The Basin Plan is the RWQCB’s master water quality control planning document.

Also in 1983, the RWQCB adopted a General Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements (WDR). This waiver empowers the City to independently review and approve the installation of septic systems, without requiring an individual State waste discharge permit for every project. This waiver is currently incorporated into chapters 4 and 5 of the Basin Plan.

This arrangement between the City and the RWQCB has been successfully functioning for almost 30 years.

Proposed changes

At its May 5, 2011 board meeting, staff will propose that the RWQCB adopt changes to its existing Basin Plan. A tentative staff report for the May 5th meeting, outlining the proposed changes to the Basin Plan, can be viewed here. Revisions to chapter 4 (Implementation) of the Basin Plan, can be viewed here (in underline/strikeout format).

The following are a few of the most significant changes that would result from the proposed revisions to the existing Basin Plan:

  • Require the City to develop a Septic System Management Plan, for approval by the RWQCB.
  • Require the City to align its Municipal Code with the Basin Plan.
  • Require the City to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the RWQCB to regulate its own septic system.

How these changes would impact you

Increased costs: All costs associated with: 1) development of a Septic System Management Plan, 2) expanded monitoring of septic systems and ground/surface water, and 3) new and expanded bureaucracy, would be borne by the residents of the City.

New restrictions on property rights: Changes to the Basin Plan would create a whole new level of bureaucracy. New property restrictions, established by the RWQCB, would need to be enforced by the City. These new restrictions would include:

  • prohibition of secondary residences on parcels under 2-acres;
  • installation of 100% expansion area, and reserve room for an additional 100% expansion; and
  • prohibition of self-regulating water softeners.

Property intrusion: All properties with a septic system would require physical inspection. Instead of allowing residents to manage their own septic systems, the City will be required to:

  • "identify" and "address" areas of potential groundwater and or surface water that may be degraded by septic systems; and
  • "verify" that existing and proposed systems are constructed and maintained in accordance with State standards.

Residents should be aware that all associated cost and activities would not be a “one time” occurrence, but would rather continue on into perpetuity. In addition to the costs residents would incur to complete the above tasks, residents will also need to cover costs associated with:

  • development and implementation of an on-going public information program on proper maintenance and operation of septic systems;
  • obtaining, storing, and maintaining availability of as-built construction plans for septic systems installed within the City; and
  • recording notices of septic system related enforcement actions against properties.

What you can do

As previously stated, the City’s current process of managing and regulating its septic systems was established in 1983. The City feels that this process has provided residents with a flexible and economical way of establishing and maintaining their septic systems.

If you agree, please, contact the RWQCB at: (805) 549-3147, or the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) at: (916) 341-5254. A list of phone contacts for the RWQCB is located here, and a list of phone contacts for the SWRCB is located here. Residents can also e-mail the RWQCB or State Water Resources Control Board. Contact information with regards to e-mail for the RWQCB is located here, and contact information for the State Water Resources Control Board is located here.

For those who would like to attend the May 5th RWQCB board meeting, the meeting will be taking place at its San Luis Obispo office. The agenda and directions to the meeting can be found here.

Category: Home & Property

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