HB 1458-S3 - DIGEST

Finds that: (1) Hood Canal and other marine waters in Puget Sound are at risk of severe loss of marine life from low-dissolved oxygen. The increased input of human-influenced nutrients, especially nitrogen, is a factor causing this low-dissolved oxygen condition in some of Puget Sound's waters, in addition to such natural factors as poor overall water circulation and stratification that discourages mixing of surface-to-deeper waters;

(2) A significant portion of the state's residents live in homes served by on-site sewage disposal systems, and many new residences will be served by these systems;

(3) Properly functioning on-site sewage disposal systems largely protect water quality. However, improperly functioning on-site sewage disposal systems in marine recovery areas may contaminate surface water, causing public health problems;

(4) Local programs designed to identify and correct failing on-site sewage disposal systems have proven effective in reducing and eliminating public health hazards, improving water quality, and reopening previously closed shellfish areas; and

(5) State water quality monitoring data and analysis can help to focus these enhanced local programs on specific geographic areas that are sources of pollutants degrading Puget Sound waters.

Declares it is the purpose of this act to authorize enhanced local programs in marine recovery areas to inventory existing on-site sewage disposal systems, to identify the location of all on-site sewage disposal systems in marine recovery areas, to require inspection of on-site sewage disposal systems and repairs to failing systems, to develop electronic data systems capable of sharing information regarding on-site sewage disposal systems, and to monitor these programs to ensure that they are working to protect public health and Puget Sound water quality.

Provides that, by July 1, 2007, the local health officers of health jurisdictions in the twelve counties bordering Puget Sound shall develop a written on-site program management plan to provide guidance to the local health jurisdiction.

Provides that, after July 1, 2007, the local health officer may designate additional marine recovery areas meeting the criteria of this act, according to new information. Where the department recommends the designation of a marine recovery area or expansion of a designated marine recovery area, the local health officer shall notify the department of its decision concerning the recommendation within ninety days of receipt of the recommendation.

Provides that, in a marine recovery area, each local health officer shall: (1) Require that on-site sewage disposal system maintenance specialists, septic tank pumpers, or others performing on-site sewage disposal system inspections submit reports or inspection results to the local health jurisdiction regarding any failing system; and

(2) Develop and maintain an electronic data system of all on-site sewage disposal systems within a marine recovery area to enable the local health jurisdiction to actively manage on-site sewage disposal systems. In assisting development of electronic data systems, the department shall work with local health jurisdictions with marine recovery areas and the on-site sewage disposal system industry to develop common forms and protocols to facilitate sharing of data. A marine recovery area on-site sewage disposal electronic data system must be compatible with all on-site sewage disposal electronic data systems used throughout a local health jurisdiction.

Requires the on-site program management plans of local health jurisdictions required under this act to be submitted to the department by July 1, 2007, and be reviewed to determine if they contain all necessary elements. The department shall provide in writing to the local board of health its review of the completeness of the plan. The board may adopt additional criteria by rule for approving plans.

Requires the department to offer financial and technical assistance to local governments and tribal entities in Puget Sound counties to establish or expand on-site sewage disposal system repair and replacement through local loan and grant programs. The programs must give priority to low-income and financially distressed homeowners.

Directs the department of health to report to the appropriate committees of the senate and house of representatives by December 31, 2008, on progress in designating marine recovery areas and developing and implementing on-site strategies for such marine recovery areas.