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.