Citizens Work to Improve Septic System Law, Your Support and Calls Are Needed!

CAPR CALL TO ACTION!  If you appreciate and like the legislative bills discussed in this article, please call your legislators or the legislative hotline 800 562 6000 to give them your opinion, yea or nay! 

COOMWA a citizens’ action group formed to protect citizens use and management of their septic systems, along with Citizens’ Alliance for Property Rights have worked together to promote a bill in the state legislature.  SB 5503, sponsored by Senators Das, Fortunato, Takko has progressed through the legislative process and is waiting to be heard on the Senate floor. 

A similar bill sponsored by Representatives Sullivan, Irwin, Stokesbary was supported and HB 1471 sponsored by Young, Walsh, Shea has progressed in the House and is expected to be heard on the floor as well.

Problems had been reported by citizens regarding local health jurisdictions rule-making and the authority granted local health jurisdictions through the state board of health.  The local jurisdictions were requiring fees that were not tied to specific services which was prohibited by law in RCW.  This led to COOMWA and CAPR investigating RCWs and WACs covering septic systems.  It was found the WACs were lacking in many aspects that property owners objected to.  Prohibitively expensive system upgrades were being required in some jurisdictions and permits were tied to monitoring contracts even though law explicitly requires the owners of the systems to bear responsibility for their systems.  Some jurisdictions were also requiring easements for the entire system, and claiming those easements allowed them egress onto properties without notification of property owners.

The research carried out by COOMWA and CAPR ultimately led to crafting bill language to counter these problems, and the Senators and Representatives sponsoring and supporting the OSS (septic system) bills.  The bills have corrected the problems with WACs promulgated by the state board of health that citizens objected in this way:

Failing On-Site Sewage Systems. SBOH rules must:

give first priority to repairing and second priority to replacing an existing conventional OSS;

not impose more stringent performance requirements of equivalent OSS on private entities than public entities;

and allow repair of an OSS using the least expensive alternatives that meet standards and is likely to provide comparable or better long-term sewage treatment and effluent dispersal outcomes.

Inspections of On-Site Sewage Systems. SBOH rules must:

require coordination between the owner and certified professional inspector or public agency prior to accessing the OSS;

require authorization by the OSS owner for inspection by a certified inspector or public agency unless the LHJ obtains an administrative search warrant following existing procedures;

and forbid LHJs from conditioning OSS permits with requirements for inspections or maintenance easements of OSS located on a single property servicing a single dwelling.

March 5, 2019