Workshop on New Septic Regulations, June 13, 3pm

Dear River Supporters:


We have no way of customizing this message for people whose properties rely on septic systems, but this message should be really important to those who do. (If you know anyone along the Russian River who does rely on a septic system, please pass this on.)


The North Coast Regional Board will be holding a workshop on new septic system regulations this coming Thursday from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM at their headquarters at 5550 Skylane Blvd. near the airport. (see link to public notice in attached document.) This will be the only opportunity to learn about the proposed regulations before they are approved. We have attempted to summarize their Action Plan (17 page document) down to 5.5 pages for easier reading although we’re not sure whether we have succeeded with the ‘easier’ part.


We are concerned that their goal to rid the river of all bacterial pathogens from all sources may be overly ambitious in some cases (septic systems) and yet too lenient in others (i.e., toilet facilities along river for homeless and recreators).   We are concerned that they will not provide enough help to low income people for the costs associated with this plan.


Septic Issues include:

  • Financial assistance is unclear and not pinned down at this time
  • The need for a special qualified consultant to design system could become difficult to pin down and very expensive.  There should be an agency program to help with this.  There may also be difficulty finding someone qualified in a reasonable amount of time.
  • Need for more flexibility in regards to 50% reserve area for leach field, and requirement should not apply to replacement systems
  • Historical data should be identified, shared and utilized wherever possible, including Sonoma County Soils Survey (May 1972)
  • Time lines may be much too constrained and may create problems.


The Regional Board anticipates approving this plan at their August 14th or 15th meeting but it would go to other State Agencies after that for final approval.  We expect that final approval and start of implementation would commence in about a year.  State has access to County property owner address lists and it is likely that those of you who own property in the targeted area would receive letters sometime next year, asking you questions about your septic system.  If you don’t respond, probably nothing much would happen at first, but eventually they would probably track you down to get the information.  Their goal is to identify and remedy cesspools near the river or its tributaries first.  They are planning a septic inspection program as part of this project.  If you want to expand your residence you would need to go to Permit Sonoma for a permit and they would make you deal with septic improvements (if necessary) before you get a permit to expand.


RRWPC is hopeful that this program will work, because given the high cost of Central sewer (This year $1625) and difficulties in pipeline construction in our area and given that we live in a flood plain and the raw sewage spills are generally nastier than anything coming out of a septic tank, we oppose hookups to Russian River County Sanitation District.  (See four attached pictures above.  There was a surging manhole for 4 days (Feb. 26th – March 2nd ) near Vacation Beach.  About 700,000 gallons of raw sewage may have gone into the river.)


While I cannot answer questions about individual parcels, if you have general questions, feel free to email them to me.




Brenda Adelman
Russian River Watershed Protection Committee
P.O. Box 501
Guerneville, CA 95446
RRWPC Website:



5 attachments
3.2.19 tp on Orchard Ave – Nick[2].jpg
Sewage sign upclose Nick 3.2.2019[2].jpg
Sewage diversion from Nick 3.2.2019[3].jpg
Action Plan for the Russian River Watershed pathogen total Maximum Daily Load.docx