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Published on Friday, January 10, 2014

Requiring sewer hookups in UGAs

Some of you may recall a Rep. Jan Angel (R-Port Orchard) bill, HB 1052 from last year. The bill proposed to allow cities to permit septic systems within urban growth areas as a main source of sewage treatment. As you know, cities have an obligation under GMA to provide sewer service in our UGA under a 20-year planning horizon.

AWC testified with concerns because existing WAC 365-196-320 already authorized us to allow septics under certain circumstances, including physical considerations, cost considerations, or within a phased plan.

Some advocates are making the case that in some limited cases, cities are not availing themselves of this option to allow septics when it is cost prohibitive to hook up to sewer, and some examples are being shared that show pretty significant cost differences between the costs to repair a septic system versus the cost to hook into municipal sewer.

The new proposal in HB 2186 would retain existing city authority to choose whether and when to require sewer hookup, but would provide additional guidance by defining "cost prohibitive," as 15% over replacement of an onsite system. This would only apply to existing developments in urban growth areas. Please provide any feedback as to whether this proposal would be workable to Carl Schroeder.