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New septic regs take effect April 1

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Beginning Aug. 1, all new septic systems in Delta County will have to be designed by a registered professional engineer, local health department officials tell the DCI. Repair and replacement of existing septic systems are exempt from the engineer design requirement.

The new rule was adopted by the Delta County Board of Health last month. It will make new septic systems more expensive for homeowners.

The new rule is the county's response to a state department of health regulation adopted in 2013 that requires stricter design criteria, inspections, and documentation of new septic installations.

Formerly the term ISDS (individual sewage disposal systems) was used for septics. The official term now is OWTS (on-site wastewater treatment systems). The new systems installed after Aug. 1 will have to meet design and performance criteria focused on systems that actually treat and purify wastewater rather than simply getting rid of the stuff.

In preparation for meeting the new state rules, the county health department had for the past year been doing actual engineered design of new systems in-house. But Environmental Health Director Ken Nordstrom explained that having local health department inspectors design the systems they themselves are responsible for approving was not a good situation for the department personnel to be in. So independent engineers are being given the job of design.

The new county regulation states, "All new construction and installation of on-site wastewater treatment systems shall be designed by a registered professional engineer, except for repairs, alterations, and replacement systems where registered professional engineered designs are not required."

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