7/8/2020 UPDATE: Due to an overwhelming turn out of support from our members, Realtors, and community members the First Reading of the proposed waste water regulations was tabled to a later date, which will give committees time to work together to hopefully come to an agreeable outcome.
BBIA SUGGESTED REVISIONS TO THE NEW RAVALLI COUNTY PROPOSED WASTE WATER REGULATIONS
We support a positive change that clears up the ambiguity & defines the un-known in the previous Waste Water regulations. We believe this draft does have some good sections, however that being said it also has a lot of area of concern as outlined below therefore we do NOT support this draft as written.
1.6.7–B. Connecting a different structure or “occupied building” does not necessarily mean that there is an increase in effluent flow to the system ie. Detached shops, garages, horse barns with water to them or even a half bath etc. are all examples that may not increase the effluent flow. We would suggest a change to the definition of “Occupied Building” or support an exemption that would allow for detached structure not for human habitation.
1.6.7-C. This seems discouraging to home businesses, & entrepreneurs in our county. Again, simply adding a home business or employees (especially if the owner is the employee of the business) does not mean an increase in effluent flow to the system. We suggest new language here possibly; Adding or enlarging a business that will have employees or customers that would increase effluent flow in excess of the approved limits or standards.
1.6.8 We suggest a definition change here to “Occupied Building” as outlined below.
“Occupied Building” means any structure that is used for human habitation and has any one or more of the following: a bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen, or a laundry facility. Recreational vehicles….
3.1.3 This section we feel is where the buildings not for human habitation should be that don’t fall under the “Increased Use” category. An applicant would “Alter” the system by connecting a new structure however not necessarily increase the effluent flow.
3.3 #6 item d. states to show delineated floodplain within 300’ in which the A.R.M. 17.36.918 state 100’
3.4 We are currently seeing two-week lead times for site evaluations with the current load & staffing of the department. We would recommend to remove the sub-(1) to allow for the applicant to “sub-contract” site evaluations with a registered sanitarian or engineer at the applicant’s discretion.
3.5 The water sample analysis we feel is an un-due hardship to the applicant and should state “the departmentmay obtain a water sample”… currently there is a $100 fee on the application for non-deg analysis however the applicant is responsible for acquiring the sample, postage, paying for the lab work, & getting info back to the department. If the department collected the sample it would ensure the department has accurate information. Additionally, it is recommended that the analysis has an expiration of 24 months.
3.9 Again refers to the floodplain at 300’ vs. A.R.M. of 100’
3.12 Talks about receiving an Operating permit in 4.8 but don’t see it anywhere in 4.8
4.2 #1. Timely Manner should be defined. 7 business days is used a few times throughout the document so that would be our recommendation.
4.5.2 We request language added that states unless the Department determines that site-specific conditions require a larger area to comply with these regulations “subject to MCA 50-2-130(2)”.
4.6.2 States the department may require a 50’ separation from the property boundary to the absorption system this is more stringent then A.R.M. 17.36.918 which is 10’
4.6.3 We would request this entire section be removed. No where in the MCA nor the ARM that is cited does it require mixing zones to stay with-in the property boundary it speaks of subdivision only.
4.7.1 States the Department “shall deny” we request it is changed to “may deny”. The obligatory language of “shall” precludes the department from working with applicants to revise an application for the purposes of making the application compliant.
4.8 Refer to comments from 3.12
4.9.1 States the permit may be “revoked” we request the word be changed to “revised” we think this needs to be split into (2) parts whereas items 4&5 are subject to revocation. #1,2,3, & 6 are items out of the applicant’s control and to revoke when such conditions become evident is an extreme response & should be found in the review process & site evaluation. The applicant should be ensured that the review process is done in a correct and complete manner.
6.2 There was no form provided or accompanied to this document for the variance process therefore making it difficult to review. Additionally, a fee was mentioned but with no dollar amount associated.
7.1.1 States that “Conforming” existing systems “may” be used without alteration… isn’t this a given? We feel Existing systems should be able to have continued use. Unless upon findings of facts, & scientific data proving that it is endangering the public’s health & safety. (Subject to the Variance process)
7.1.3 States at the “time of sale”, “Time of Sale” should be defined as to have a clear understanding who the liable party is.
7.1.3.b States a review process & forms created by the department in which were not exhibits of this document. Also again states timely manner (suggest 7 business days)
7.2 There is no option with-in 7.2 to alter the structure to bring the system into conforming ie. Remove a bedroom, adding a water meter to measure the effluent flow etc…
7.3.1 Requiring a permit to repair an existing conforming system is more stringent and exceeds A.R.M. 17.36.913
7.3.2 should read when an “Alteration” not repair
7.3.3 We request the language be changed to “Any construction of an occupied building that will result with increased use requires a Wastewater system permit”. The applicant must contact…
8.3.1 The responsible party should be set definitively. We suggest that the applicant be the presumptive violator in the event there is no applicant then the property owner.
8.3.2 Means of notice should also be definitive and read “Notice Shall be by U.S. mail to the applicant in the event no applicant is on file then to the landowners of record”.
8.5 These fees are in excess of MCA 50-2-124
The “Fee Schedule” is mentioned a number of times through-out the document but has not been presented at any meetings thus far that we are aware of. The concern within the Building Industry is with the added work load we will suffer delays and increased cost either by delays or in a new not yet proposed “Fee Schedule” and Housing affordability will again suffer. We would strongly encourage that a county grant program be established for the hundreds if not thousands of people the regulated community that may not be financially able perform. Additionally, it is highly suggested that the county start pursuing alternatives to support municipal sewer & water options.
In closing is there science and data that would suggest we have “Failing Systems” that are adversely affecting the public’s health & safety, and warrants a major revision to the current waste water regulations? Is there data of how many systems fail per year in Ravalli county? How many? Does Non-Conforming mean failed in the departments view?