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Thursday, January 03, 2013

Onsite Wastewater Policy Receives Final Approval from Admin Law Office

• Sets Standards for Health or Public Nuisance Determinations As Well As Corrective Action Options

BY BILL KOENEKER

The state water board recently announced that the administrative record for the water quality control policy for siting, design, operation and maintenance of onsite wastewater treatment systems or OWTS policy was approved by the state Office of Administrative Law on Nov. 13, 2012. The OWTS policy will take effect on May,  2013, according to state water officials.
At the June 19, 2012 hearing, the State Water Board adopted the OWTS policy and approved the supporting substitute environmental documentation.
State water officials assert the policy establishes a statewide, risk-based, tiered approach for the regulation and management of OWTS installations and replacements and sets the level of performance and protection expected from onsite systems.
The OWTS policy sets the standards for onsite wastewater treatment systems that are constructed or replaced, that are subject to major repair, that pool or discharge water to the surface of the ground and that have affected or will affect groundwater or surface water to a degree that makes it unfit for drinking water or other uses, or cause a health or other public nuisance condition, according to state water officials.
“The OWTS policy also includes minimum operating requirements for OWTS that may include siting, construction and performance requirements; requirements for OWTS near certain waters listed as impaired; requirements authorizing local agency implementation of the requirements, corrective action requirements; minimum monitoring requirements exemption criteria; requirements for determining when an existing OWTS is subject to major repair and a conditional waiver of waste discharge requirements,” a summary of regulatory provisions states.
The regional water quality control boards are required to incorporate the standards established in the OWTS policy, or standards that are more protective of the environment and public health, into their water quality control plan within 12 months of the effective date of the OWTS policy. Implementation of the policy will be overseen by the State Water Board and the regional water quality control boards and local agencies such as county and city departments and independent districts, which have the opportunity to implement local agency management programs approved by the applicable regional water quality control board.
The Board adopted and OAL approved version of the OWTS policy is now posted on a website at www.waterboards.ca.gov/water issues/programs/owts/index.shtml

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