Septic System Inspection in the News – California

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Septic tank exam too costly

Calabasas – CA – Dec 11, 2008 
Toby KeelerAfter years of debate, the state of California is finally circulating draft regulations for onsite wastewater treatment systems to be implemented under Assembly Bill 885.Owners of all OWTS will be required to have their septic tanks inspected for solids accumulation every five years by a service provider, not the government, and that documentation is to be retained by the OWTS owner, not submitted as a report. No operating permit is required. This is what the state will require.

Here is what the city of Calabasas has stated will be required every three years of those hundred or so homeowners with septic tanks.

  • An operating permit from the city.
  • A check of appliances and fixtures inside the home to assure proper connections.
  • A visual examination of treatment tank, where inspectors will check the inlet and outlet valves, tank volume, waste levels, cracks, corrosion and leakage.
  • Inspection of the distribution box for leakage, cracks, corrosion and levelness. Pipes leading from the tank to the box and to the distribution field can be checked for corrosion or breakage via a digital camera.
  • Distribution field or pit is typically inspected by a dye flush test to assure that the system is draining properly. Probes can be used to test for drainage levels.

The city claims that the cost to homeowners of this routine examination is between $350 and $500. In checking with certified inspectors for Malibu, costs can run between $1,500 to $10,000, depending on location and accessibility.

Residents were assured by the Calabasas City Council that OWTS requirements would not be punitive. Not only do they far exceed what the state will require, but their cost estimates for individual homeowners have no basis in fact.

Residents only seek what is fair and reasonable. What has been proposed by the City Hall is neither.