Bacteria Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) & New County Septic System Requirements
One goal of regulatory agencies such as the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board) is to protect ground water, streams, and soils from contaminated waste that can cause disease. Bacteria and septic system regulations are often complex and difficult to manage. Bacteria are everywhere and most are not harmful. One website described human bacteria as follows: “Around 100 trillion good bacteria live in and on our bodies. Many of these bacteria reside in our gut, helping our body break down food and absorb nutrients. Not only do we live in harmony with these good bacteria, but they are essential to our survival.” The goal is to protect us from harmful disease causing exposures. None of us want to come in contact with human waste products that may cause disease. The Regional Board writes rules governing the discharge of waste products and the County Planning Department oversees septic system regulations. Sonoma County Water Agency oversees sewage treatment plants in the County including the Russian River County Sanitation District (RRCSD) in Guerneville.
On March 12, 2019, the County Board of Supervisors will probably approve new septic system policies. Information can be found at the County’s PRMD website. In the meantime, the Regional Board will probably approve their new Bacteria TMDL at their April Board Meeting. RRWPC believes that regulations are needed for old, antiquated cesspools and redwood boxes that still exist along the river, but we also believe that some flexibility is needed to accommodate properties that need alternative and affordable systems. It is the pathogenic bacteria (newly defined by the State Water Board as excessive levels of E. coli bacteria) that we want addressed and not the trillions of good bacteria that are needed for a healthy population. Our web page, Proposed Bacteria Regulations and TMDLS, contains more information in this regard.
Note: Below are a few articles we have written giving information on our views. We will be adding more over the coming year or two. Brenda Adelman is a member of the nine member Citizen Advisory Group set up by the Regional Board and County and will report on important information as it becomes available.
NOTICE OF PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD AND PUBLIC HEARING TO CONSIDER ADOPTION OF THE DRAFT TMDL ACTION PLAN FOR THE RUSSIAN RIVER WATERSHED PATHOGEN TOTAL MAXIMUM DAILY LOAD AND PROHIBITION OF THE DISCHARGE OF FECAL WASTE MATERIALS AS AN AMENDMENT TO THE WATER QUALITY CONTROL PLAN FOR THE NORTH COAST REGION AND NOTICE OF FILING UNDER CALIFORNIA CODE OF REGULATIONS, TITLE 23, § 3779 FOR DRAFT SUBSTITUTE ENVIRONMENTAL DOCUMENT: 5/9/2019