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Published on Friday, January 9, 2015

Septic-to-sewer bill returns – feedback needed

AWC and several individual cities were heavily involved with a bill last year (HB 2186) that would have provided limitations on city authority to shift homeowners from septic to community sewer. This session, the Washington On-Site Sewage Association (WOSSA) is advancing a different proposal on the same subject. The association is attempting to deal with the rare situation when homeowners are denied the ability to replace a failed septic system with a new one, and instead are required by the city to hook on to community sewer. In some rare instances the cost of connecting to sewer can significantly exceed the cost of septic replacement.

Rather than providing guidance for when a sewer hookup is cost prohibitive, this new approach would make local government bear the cost of the sewer extension that travels within public rights of way. Under this proposal, if an application to install a septic system is declined because of an ordinance requiring sewer hookup, the local government would have to pay to install the sewer line within public rights of way and the homeowner would only be responsible for the costs of improvements on their property and any connection charges.

We expect cities will not support being forced to pay the cost of these extensions, but we could use some specific feedback. Please provide information about how this new requirement would be problematic, which types of extensions would prove difficult to enact under this scenario, technical concerns and any other supportive information.

The specific statutory language is available in this bill draft. Please provide feedback to Carl Schroeder.