After getting substantial pushback from county and city governments, state water officials have unveiled a simplified set of rules governing the use of septic systems.
The new policy was unveiled in September and is expected to affect less than 5 percent of septic systems, water officials say. It affects only those systems that are not working properly or are located within 2,000 feet of a body of water identified as having pollution problems.
San Luis Obispo is one of only four regional communities in the state selected to host workshops where the public can give feedback on the proposed rules. Separate workshops will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 9 p.m., Monday at Harman Hall in the San Luis Obispo Performing Arts Center on the Cal Poly campus.
State water board staff will give a presentation about the new rules at both meetings and will then take public comment. The comment period ends Nov. 14.
An updated set of rules was first proposed in 2008, but many local governments complained that they would be expensive to implement. San Luis Obispo County estimated the annual cost to be $500,000.
“Based on extensive comments received, state water board staff took a risk-based approach, addressing only those systems that threatened water sources serving the general public,” states a fact sheet on the rules.
Improperly sited or functioning septic systems contribute a variety of pollutants to ground and surface waters. These include disease-causing bacteria and nitrates. Septic systems near impaired water bodies may have to be retrofitted.
Septic system owners are encouraged to use an online interactive map to help determine if they are affected by the new rules, said George Kostyrko, state water board spokesman. The map can be found at www.swrcb.ca.gov and by clicking on the septic system link.
San Luis Obispo County has an estimated 24,000 septic systems. Atascadero has 5,000 households on septic systems, but businesses are connected to a sewer system.