Septic Systems in the Russian River Area are in a State of Change

Septic Systems in the Russian River Area are in a state of change.

I am attaching a press release from October 2012 written by Dan Fein for your review, along with a place to go for the most up to date information.

“Regional Board Explains New OWTS Policy

An overflow crowd filled the Monte Rio Community Center on October 20, to hear a presentation by members and staff of the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (NRWQCB) to explain new septic rules that were adopted last June. The Monte Rio Wastewater Interested Citizens also presented a summary of what they had learned from the group

Charles Reed of NRWQCB explained the new policy, called

Two elements of the policy particularly affect the lower River. The first is that the Russian River is considered an

The Tier 3 rules specify that they apply to areas within 600 feet of an impaired water body, but according to Mr. Reed, the 600 foot rule

A local volunteer group that called itself

The meeting could be summarized as follows:

From the Regional Board:

    • The Board will conduct a TMDL study
    • The TMDL study will guide the OWTS policy for the Russian River basin, and that policy will be incorporated into the Basin Plan
    • The Board will delegate oversight of wastewater management to a local agency that will assure compliance
    • A local agency will develop an Advanced Protection Management Program (APMP)
    • Individual owners of OWTS will be required to take a more active and accountable role to operate and maintain their systems in compliance with minimum requirements of policy
    • New rules will be in place within about 4 years, and implementation will begin no more than 3 years later

From the Monte Rio Wastewater Interested Citizens

    • The status quo is not sustainable
    • A County task group is needed to lead the effort, that includes a lead agency, technical, land use planning and funding expertise and that would include a local Citizens Advisory Committee
    • Studies are needed to identify and quantify viable solutions, including alternatives not previously considered, and their relative costs
    • Studies are needed to identify and quantify viable governance options, including governance by a local wastewater management district or community services district
    • Studies are needed to identify options for managing growth and land use planning issues that would result from solving the wastewater problems, thereby removing current development restrictions
    • The project needs seed funding to begin studies
    • Costs and sources of funds need to be spelled out for any potential solution
    • A good solution is one that is sustainable, affordable, manageable, accountable and not reliant on River discharge


Speaking for the Regional Board, Chairman David Noren expressed the Board’s preference for a community-driven solution, and stated that “all options are on the table.” “

Dan Fein is Monte Rio resident. He is a former member of the RRROC and the Monte Rio Wastewater Task Group. You can subscribe to a newsletter on Monte Rio wastewater issues by sending an email with the word

Additional information on the issue of Wastewater is available at:

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