The 2017 Napa Complex Fire also known as a the “Atlas Fire” burned about 51,000 acres. Many people lost their homes and/or businesses due to the fire. The County has taken measures to expedite processing of permits for fire victims. Fire victims are also able to apply for a fee reduction for their required permits. The County has created three review categories that range from 7 to 28 days for review time. The three categories are 7 business day/expedited, quick permit-priority processing over non-fire related permits, and standard permit-priority processing over non-fire related permits. The fee reduction is available for all fire rebuild projects including commercial and residential accessory structures.
Fire Damaged Rebuild and Permitting in the Redwood Valley County Water District
County of Mendocino hosted a Town Hall meeting on Thursday October 11th, in Redwood Valley, with the key topics of water system improvements and a planned water system replacement project. This meeting was to inform and address any questions from residents about the Redwood Valley County Water District infrastructure project specifically residents served by Redwood Valley County Water District. The project has been completely funded by state and federal disaster relief funds. The allotted funds will be used to upsize existing water lines and create loops where dead ends exist. The improvements will cover about 4-miles; with 3-miles being replacement and 1-mile of new installation. This will update current water lines by creating enough pressure and flow to support fire sprinklers which are required under the building code, Title 24. The current water infrastructure was developed prior to some of the safety requirements required under California’s new building code. The funding will cover all costs of the public right of way improvements.
Fire Damaged Septic regulations and permitting
Many properties damaged or destroyed in the Sonoma Complex Fire were served by septic systems. These parcels must have their septic system(s) inspected in order to connect rebuilt dwellings to the onsite sewage disposal system. The County of Sonoma is allowing for structures to be rebuilt, on Sonoma Complex Fire damaged parcels, without having to upgrade the septic system to current County of Sonoma septic standards. This means many homes served by a septic system can be rebuilt with little to no septic repairs being made. The existing septic system must meet County of Sonoma Class III septic system standards.
What septic clearance do I need to rebuild?
Properties served by septic systems must obtain clearance prior to rebuilding. The existing septic system must be inspected by a qualified professional; which includes Civil Engineers, Environmental Health Specialist (REHS), or a Contractor with an “A”, “C-36”, or “C-42” license. The qualified professional must complete the Septic System Evaluation Form for Rebuilds and Temporary Housing (Sonoma Complex Fire) Document and provide a 1”=20’ scaled Site Map depicting the septic system location. If the existing permit does not contain a map drawn to the required scale, a plan showing the system location must be produced by the Qualified Professional.
Is my system acceptable for reuse (reutilization)?
Most septic systems will be able to be reutilized as is or with minor modifications. The septic system must have a two compartment septic tank made of approved materials and a dispersal area leach field. This means properties served by cesspools and systems with no septic tank will need to be upgraded in order to rebuild dwellings on the parcel. Basic sanitary fixtures must exist or be installed. The septic system must meet County of Sonoma Class III standards.
The existing septic system must be permitted or pre-code in order to be reutilized. Systems installed without benefit of permits will not be eligible for reuse until required permits are obtained.
What if my system requires minor repairs?
The County of Sonoma is allowing many minor repairs to be performed without permits. These include system components such as riser lids, monitoring wells, valve boxes, etc. Approved repairs made without permits shall be listed on the Septic System Evaluation Form for Rebuilds and Temporary Housing (Sonoma Complex Fire) Document by the Qualified Professional.
Repairs to the dispersal area (leach field), electrical components, or other non-permit exempt portions of the septic system must have a permit obtained prior to construction. Please consult BC Engineering Group to determine if you require a permit to perform necessary septic system repairs.
Can I hook up an RV or Travel Trailer to my septic system?
Once your septic system is inspected by a Qualified Professional and deemed acceptable for reutilization, a RV or Travel Trailer can be temporarily connected to it. A permit is required to connect a RV or Travel Trailer to the existing septic system.
What if I want to add bedrooms to my new dwelling or build a new accessory dwelling unit?
In order to increase the bedroom count of the prior structure, a new septic system will likely be required. This will require the parcel to go through the standard soil testing, design, and permitting process, as required by the County of Sonoma OWTS Manual.
My house survived but my septic system was damaged by the fire, can I live in the dwelling?
All dwellings must have an approved and functioning septic system in order to be occupied. This means that regardless of the structure’s condition, the building(s) cannot be occupied until septic clearance is granted. If the dispersal area (leach field) is damaged or destroyed, but your septic tank is undamaged, or minor repairs are completed, the existing septic tank can be used as a temporary holding tank. This requires a permit to be obtained and a pumping contract to remain in effect until the dispersal area is repaired.
We Can Help!
If you’re planning to rebuild on a Sonoma Complex Fire damaged parcel, contact BC Engineering Group, we know the applicable laws and ordinances, and have been actively involved in septic policies for fire parcels as they have been developed. For more details about your septic system and septic regulations, please contact BC Engineering Group today at (707) 542-4321. Like us on Facebook and LinkedIn, and subscribe to our blog.
Public Water System Permitting in California
What is a public water system?
A public water system is defined as a system that provides water for human consumption to 15 or more connections or regularly serves 25 or more people daily for at least 60 days out of the year. There are three types of water systems:
Public water system permitting
Public water systems are required to have domestic water supply permits through the State Water Resources Control Board. For new water systems, the first step in the permitting process is to explore consolidation with an existing water system in the vicinity and submitting a preliminary technical report to the State. Most times, consolidation is not feasible as either the cost is impractical or the existing system prefers not to consolidate.
Once it is determined that a new water system permit will be required, an application is submitted to the State, which then generates a Permit Application Requirements Checklist, which identifies all required documentation to receive the water supply permit. Each checklist is unique and applicable to the specific project. Required documentation includes, but is in no way limited to the following:
Our office frequently works with the State and certified water system operators to develop and submit all required documents to permit new water systems, and to amend existing water permits to add additional wells, treatment, or other features.
Planning Your Water System Project
The BC Engineering Group staff has developed plans, calculations, and documents for multiple new water systems in Northern California; we know the permitting process and can serve all water system development needs. As a leading civil engineering and water system design firm, we guide water system developments from planning to construction. Take advantage of our experience and contact us today for your water system design and permitting, and land development needs. We are here to help!
For more information on water system permitting and other land planning services, please contact us at 707-542-4321, or find us on Facebook and LinkedIn. You can also stay up to date with civil engineering and land planning issues by subscribing to our blog.
Fire Rebuild Support from BC Engineering Group.
All members of our community have been affected by the recent wildfires, including the staff of BC Engineering Group. In response, our engineering team has decided to make the rebuilding efforts for our community the highest priority. Our staff is available to start on rebuild projects immediately upon authorization. Below you will find a link to a menu of services related to the fire rebuild efforts and fields to provide important information regarding your project. If you need services that are not listed in this document, please contact us; we can likely provide the support you need or we can connect you with someone who can.