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Costly new rules for septic tanks? 

Flushing waste into a household septic tank may become a more expensive act under new regulations due for consideration by the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board on May 9.

The proposed new requirements, included as part of the water board’s Basin Plan, impose “a large financial burden” on property owners and on SLO County government, according to comments filed by county staff planner Barry Tolle.

The water board’s proposed changes would require communities that rely on septic tanks—including Shandon, Templeton, Santa Margarita, Garden Farms, Los Osos, Baywood Park, Arroyo Grande, and Nipomo—to prepare wastewater management plans and form septic system maintenance districts.

Homeowners would be required to have their septic tanks inspected and pumped every five years, and water quality monitoring would also be required. Disposal of water softener brine into septic tanks would be prohibited.

Areas with a high groundwater table, such as Santa Margarita and Garden Farms, may be required to install town sewer systems to avoid septic tank contamination of drinking water supplies.

“If the Basin Plan is approved, it will substantially increase the county’s operating costs and add to the cost of housing,” according to SLO County’s comments.

The water board’s reply—spelled out in the staff report for the May 9 meeting—dismisses the county’s concerns.

“I’m not happy with the fact that they’re not willing to back down,” Tolle said in a phone interview.

The Los Osos Community Services District also filed a letter detailing their complaints with the proposed new rules, as did the city of Atascadero.

Local officials are also concerned about what would happen with the material pumped out of septic tanks as part of the regular pumping requirement.

The water board meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. at 895 Aerovista Place, near the airport in San Luis Obispo. Audio files of the meeting will be posted a week later on the board’s website,

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