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Assemblyman Ted Gaines' septic bill faces test on April 14

By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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Assemblyman Ted Gaines’ bill to flush away mandatory septic-system inspection plans by the state Water Resources Control Board will face its first committee test April 14. Gaines, R-Roseville, said that he’s prepared to “fight it out” before the Democrat-heavy Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials to push for a bill that supports local control of septic-system inspections and no fees. Gaines is attempting to repeal provisions in state law established nine years ago calling for an inspection program for all septic tanks and wells. He introduced his Assembly Bill 268 in response to concerns of many septic-system owners facing a minimum of $325 in costs associated with inspections. The inspections would start in 2010 and take place every five years. “People are hurting right now and I don’t think they should be charged another fee,” Gaines said. Gaines has encouraged septic-system owners in his district, which takes in Placer County, to contact members of the Safety and Toxic Materials Committee. The committee, which Gaines does not sit on, consists of five Democrats and two Republicans. Placer Supervisor Jim Holmes, who represents the county on the Regional Council of Rural Counties, said the association is working closely with the Department of Water Resources to change the original 2000 legislation to remove mandatory inspection requirements where inspections are already the responsibility of local government agencies. Noting that Gaines’ bill was not the only one being put forward in the wake of protests from rural areas, Holmes said he doubted if the Gaines bill would even move out of committee because of the preponderance of Democrats. Gaines said his call for people to write and phone committee members has been effective, particularly from areas with rural constituents. “I’ve had feedback from the chairman of the committee, who wants to meet with me,” Gaines said. “The bill doesn’t necessarily agree with the priorities of Democrats but we’re trying to see if we can work with folks.” An estimated 26,000 households in Placer County are on septic systems. Statewide, the total is 1.2 million households. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com.