Coastal Post Online


November, 2002

Fear And Loathing Over New Septic Regulations?

The County of Marin's Environmental Health Services (EHS) has issued a draft document of proposed changes and new programs for septic system regulation.

An estimated 50 percent of all Marin parcels with septic systems are unknown and undocumented. While most agree that better monitoring septic systems and enforcement of related regulations are necessary to protect the environment and our water sources, many questions are being raised about the proposed regulations:

Are the proposed regulations actually enforceable, in view of the lack of experience and allegedly ad hoc decision-making that currently weaken EHS?

Do the proposed regulations effectively protect the environment and public health?

How will EHS ensure that work during required upgrades will be conducted with safeguards for the environment?

Will EHS allow continued use of systems that are substandard, that periodically experience failure conditions, or that violate existing county policies?

Will regulations be enforced without subjectivity or favoritism?

What will be the costs to the County?

What will be the costs to homeowners?

What programs can been identified or created to make strict enforcement affordable to homeowners, especially after an extended period of lax enforcement.

Is there a program in place or a subsidy for homeowners on fixed or low incomes?

How will the proposed programs and enforcement work under "real world" conditions?

What are the options for appeal, if someone disagrees with the County's determination?

Do the proposed regulations encourage or allow the use of 'alternative' technologies or unconventional applications that have not been adequately evaluated and approved for local use?

The deadline for submitting comments on the Septic Regulations changes to the County is November 13. The draft document is available by contacting the County Environmental Health Services Department, or online (; send comments to Becky Tuden at the County at [email protected] One public meeting was held in late September; in response to demand, two new meetings have been scheduled: Bolinas on November 6 (tentative) and San Geronimo on November 18.





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