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Septic System Ownership in California

Septic systems, when properly designed and operated, safely remove waste, such as bacteria and viruses, from water sources. They work by separating solid waste from the water, and holding this waste in a safe and manageable location, such as a holding tank. California residents who live in areas where the homeowner is responsible for individual water treatment must install and maintain a septic system that adheres to guidelines set forth by the California Environmental Protection Agency and the State Water Resources Control Board.

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State Regulations

New state rules for on-site wastewater treatment, or septic systems, came about through the passage of AB 885, which was signed into law in 2000. The legislation requires the California Water Board to develop and enforce uniform standards for minimum levels of acceptable operation of on-site wastewater treatment in order to protect the water supply and foster good public health.

Permit Process

Permits may be obtained by application to the local water board. Currently, a site evaluation by a state licensed contractor is required before installing a septic system. Septic systems must be built by either a qualified professional or the homeowner, and must pass inspection by the water board.

Helpful Contacts

State Water Resources Control Board
P.O. Box 100
Sacramento, CA 95812-0100


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