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Old septic rules to receive a flushing by health board

If you’re planning on doing any major changes to your property or are a developer with new subdivisions in mind, the state’s proposed changes to its septic system regulations may apply to you.

The Washington State Board of Health has drafted new rules on how on-site sewage systems should be properly operated and maintained. The proposal, which will go before the board March 9, will effect the entire state. However, officials with the Kitsap County Health District don’t expect them to have a major impact on local residents, most of whom are on septic.

Assistant director of environmental health for Kitsap County Health District Keith Grellner helped with research for the proposal and said the changes aren’t expected to affect Kitsap County as much as they will other parts of the state. Some of Kitsap’s standards to keep septic systems operable and clean are already more stringent than the state’s regulations.

The proposed changes will only affect new developments, home additions or remodels, Grellner said.

But residents should still be aware of several things — the revised treatment standards and subdividing limitations.

The proposed treatment standards include more options for septic inspectors when determining the type of treatment system that should be installed in a new development. It is usually based on the type of soils, how deep they go and the size of the development on the property.

“The proposed changes changed the way we figure where properties fit into that treatment scale,” Grellner said.

Existing home owners could be affected by this if they decide to build an addition to the house or remodel. Also, if someone with an older home has a system that fails, they may have to replace their system with a new one, Grellner said.

The other issue that could have some impact are the limitations on subdividing property. For new subdivisions only, the smallest that residents could subdivide their property into is a half-acre and only if there is public water in the area. But since Kitsap County has its own regulations based on the Growth Management Act and current zoning, Grellner said he believes these on-site regulations will have little, if any, impact. Existing lots are grandfathered into the rules and don’t have to meet new standards.

“We don’t believe there are too many lots (in Kitsap County) that are going to affected by this,” Grellner said, noting that it’s already limited as to how much a property owner can subdivide.

But unless a system fails, a home is remodeled or there is new development, “then most people won’t be affected,” Grellner said.

To learn more about the rules, go to www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/ts/WW/rdc.htm.

The proposal is expected to go before the board at 1:30 p.m. March 9 at the Washington State Department of Health, Point Plaza East, 152/153

310 Israel Road SE in Tumwater.

Written comments will be accepted through March 9.To send comments, email them to kelly.cooper@doh.wa.gov or mail to Kelly Cooper, P.O. Box 47820, Olympia, WA 98504-7820. For more information, call Cooper at (360) 236-3012.

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