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On Site Wastewater Treatment Systems (Septic Systems)

Overview

Onsite wastewater treatment systems (OWTS) are useful and necessary structures that allow habitation at locations that are removed from centralized wastewater treatment systems. When properly sited, designed, operated, and maintained, OWTS treat domestic wastewater to reduce its polluting impact on the environment and most importantly protect public health. Estimates for the number of installations of OWTS in California at the time of this Policy are that more than 1.2 million systems are installed and operating. The vast majority of these are functioning in a satisfactory manner and meeting their intended purpose. However there have been occasions in California where OWTS for a varied list of reasons have not satisfactorily protected either water quality or public health. Some instances of these failures are related to the OWTS not being able to adequately treat and dispose of waste as a result of poor design or improper site conditions. Others have occurred where the systems are operating as designed but their densities are such that the combined effluent resulting from multiple systems is more than can be assimilated into the environment. From these failures we must learn how to improve our usage of OWTS and prevent such failures from happening again. As California's population continues to grow, and we see both increased rural housing densities and the building of residences and other structures in more varied terrain than we ever have before, we increase the risks of causing environmental damage and creating public health risks from the use of OWTS. What may have been effective in the past may not continue to be as conditions and circumstances surrounding particular locations change. So necessarily more scrutiny of our installation of OWTS is demanded of all those involved, while maintaining an appropriate balance of only the necessary requirements so that the use of OWTS remains viable.

OWTS Policy Information

The State Board adopted the OWTS Policy establishing statewide standards for septic systems. Local agencies may submit management programs for approval, and upon approval then manage the installation of new and replacement OWTS under that program. Local Agency Management Programs (LAMP) provide an alternate method to protect water quality and public health. A LAMP requires that a local agency implement a Water Quality Assessment Program to evaluate the impact of OWTS discharges, and assess the extent to which groundwater and local surface water quality may be adversely impacted. Once a LAMP is approved all future OWTS decisions will be governed by the LAMP until it is modified, withdrawn, or revoked.

Click on the topic to expand and retract information.

LAMP Tracking
Local Agencies Proposed LAMP received date Comment letter date(s) Comment resolution date Final proposed LAMP received date Lahontan Water Board LAMP approval date Link (Water Board Approved LAMP)
Tahoe Office            
County of Alpine 11/07/2016          
County of Lassen 12/12/2016          
Victorville Office            
Adelanto, City of 05/26/2016 10/26/2016        
Apple Valley, Town of 05/13/2016
10/26/2016   03/14/2017
08/10/2017
   
Barstow, City of            
California City 03/17/2016
(26.4 MB)
02/10/2017
12/12/2016        
Hesperia, City of 05/13/2016 10/26/2016
06/30/2017
     
Inyo County 05/12/2016
03/16/2017
03/30/2017
11/15/2016        
Mono County 05/18/2016 11/15/2016        
San Bernardino County 10/30/2015
09/09/2016
12/20/2016
02/16/2017
03/28/2017
04/20/2017
06/23/2016
11/21/2016
01/24/2017
02/01/2017
03/09/2017
03/10/2017
03/17/2017
04/04/2017
06/27/2017
05/19/2017 06/13/2017 07/13/2017 Local Agency Management Plan

External Review Requests, Region 6 Not Designated Lead
Region County Proposed LAMP received date Comment memo date(s)1 Comment resolution date Final proposed LAMP received date Designated Water Board approval date Link (Water Board Resolution & Approved LAMP)
Region 4 Los Angeles 05/13/2016 01/12/2017        
Region 5 El Dorado 04/21/2016 05/10/2016   03/22/2017    
Region 5 Kern 05/23/2016
12/20/2016
08/08/2016
12/28/2016
01/06/2017      
Region 5 Modoc 06/02/2016 07/08/2016   12/12/2016 02/24/2017 Modoc resolution and LAMP
Region 5 Nevada 06/02/2016 12/02/2016   01/26/2017 04/07/2017 Nevada resolution and LAMP
Region 5 Placer 09/08/2016 01/03/2017   01/24/2017 04/07/2017 Placer resolution and LAMP
Region 5 Sierra            

Lahontan Basin Plan, Wastewater (including OWTS)

Memoranda of Understanding (MOU)
Region 6 entered into Memoranda of Understanding with local agencies. These MOU authorize local agencies to approve OWTS provided the Region 6 Basin Plan septic criteria are met. Exemptions to the septic criteria may be authorized by Executive Officer on a case-by-case basis. This requires a Report of Waste Discharge (Form 200), filing fee, and the information contained in the Basin Plan Appendix C. MOU's

Local Agency Type Signed – RWQCB Comment
Adelanto, City of MOU 03/24/1989 Septic Tank Guidelines
MOU Amend 03/11/1991 Section II.G, changes “after” to “before”
       
Alpine, County of MOU 07/02/1990 Septic Tank Guidelines
MOU Amend 03/11/1991 Section II.G, changes “after” to “before”
Letter 02/06/1998 Delegates authority for “alternative systems”
Letter 01/06/2000 Information on septic tank additives
       
Apple Valley, Town of MOU 02/06/1990 Septic Tank Guidelines
MOU Amend 03/11/1991 Section II.G, changes “after” to “before”
       
Barstow, City of MOU 10/28/1988 Septic Tank Guidelines
MOU Amend   Section II.G, changes “after” to “before”
       
California City, City of MOU 03/24/1989 Reference “Map A”, divides City into density quadrants
MOU Amend   Section II.G, changes “after” to “before”
       
Hesperia, City of MOU 12/20/1989 Septic Tank Guidelines
MOU Amend 03/11/1991 Section II.G, changes “after” to “before”
       
Inyo, County of MOU 02/06/1990 Septic Tank Guidelines
MOU Amend 03/11/1991 Section II.G, changes “after” to “before”
       
Mesa CSD MOU 08/30/1993 Establishes wastewater management plan for Mustang Mesa and Alta Vista
Letter 10/07/1999 Conditional Exemption for Cartago, references 07/07/1988 RB memorandum evaluating other communities in Inyo Co
       
Kern, County of MOU 12/20/1989 Septic Tank Guidelines, Kern Co signature missing
MOU Amend 03/11/1991 Section II.G, changes “after” to “before”
Letter 02/06/1998 Delegates authority for “alternative systems”
Letter 09/04/1991 Projects after 06/16/88 must meet an overall density of 2 EDU/acre, no minimum lot size exists
       
Lassen, County of MOU 11/01/1989 Septic Tank Guidelines
MOU Amend   Section II.G, changes “after” to “before”
Cady Springs MOU 11/03/1995 Establishes septic review and regulation procedures in Cady Springs
       
Los Angeles, County of MOU 09/26/1989 Septic Tank Guidelines
MOU Amend 03/11/1991 Section II.G, changes “after” to “before”
Letter 02/06/1998 Delegates authority for “alternative systems”
Letter 09/11/1989 Establishes restrictions for septic systems in Community of Littlerock area
Letter 12/08/1998 Lifts Community of Littlerock area prohibition
       
Modoc, County of MOU 12/26/1989 Septic Tank Guidelines
MOU Amend 03/11/1991 Section II.G, changes “after” to “before”
Letter 02/06/1998 Delegates authority for “alternative systems”
       
Mono, County of MOU 01/05/1989 Septic Tank Guidelines
       
Nevada, County of MOU 12/13/1989 Septic Tank Guidelines
MOU Amend   Section II.G, changes “after” to “before”
Letter 02/06/1998 Delegates authority for “alternative systems”
Letter 08/23/2000 Differences between Nevada & Placer county guidelines
       
Placer, County of MOU 03/31/1989 Septic Tank Guidelines
MOU Amend 03/11/1991 Section II.G, changes “after” to “before”
Letter 08/23/2000 Differences between Nevada & Placer county guidelines
MOU 11/16/1988 UST Closure, Investigation, Repair, and Soils Investigation in Lake Tahoe Basin
       
San Bernardino, County of MOU 06/27/1989 Septic Tank Guidelines
MOU Amend 03/11/1991 Section II.G, changes “after” to “before”
Letter 06/27/1989 Exemption to RB Septic Tank Policy – Hilltop, Crest Forest, Lake Arrowhead Area of San Bernardino Mountains, references Community Plan Maps
Letter 02/06/1998 Delegates authority for “alternative systems”
Letter 07/11/1988 Conditional exemption for Community of Wrightwood, CSA 56
Letter 01/05/1989 Denial of Waiver for septic systems on natural ground slopes greater than 30%
Letter 08/04/2008 Authorizes alternative systems in Wrightwood community provided Basin Plan requirements are met and San Bernardino County oversees and inspects installation
       
Sierra, County of MOU 02/14/1989 Septic Tank Guidelines
MOU Amend 03/11/1991 Section II.G, changes “after” to “before”
Letter 02/06/1998 Delegates authority for “alternative systems”
       
Victorville, County of MOU 02/09/1989 Septic Tank Guidelines
MOU Amend 03/11/1991 Section II.G, changes “after” to “before”

Prohibition Orders
In Basin Plan, prohibitions for certain defined areas can be found in chapter 4.1. Exemptions may be determined on a case-by-case basis.


Contact Information

If you have questions or require additional information about the Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems Policy Implementation Program, please contact Mike Coony at (760)241-7353 or by email Mike.Coony@waterboards.ca.gov.