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Sunday, March 29, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Public comment deadline set for Spokane County septic tank rules

State officials are reviewing tighter regulations for installation of septic tanks along Spokane County shorelines.

In general, septic tanks will not be allowed within 200 feet of the shoreline. Larger lots could only be developed with a septic tank more than 200 feet from the shoreline.

The rules are intended to minimize the amount of contaminants such as phosphorus that get into the county’s waterways. The Spokane River is among the water bodies that have problems with phosphorus pollution, which acts as a nutrient for algae growth.

The state Department of Ecology is taking comments on the proposed changes through Sept. 17.

The changes were ordered last December after a coalition of environmental groups appealed the county’s shoreline master plan revisions in 2013.

The state’s Growth Management Hearings Board found that the county’s septic tank regulations were not strong enough to meet the state’s shoreline standards.

Last month, county commissioners unanimously accepted changes to the septic rules based on the board’s decision.

On smaller lots with limited room, the owner would have to submit a report by a licensed engineer on a septic tank design that would limit phosphorus discharges. A site development plan is also required.

Any septic tank being installed inside the 200-foot zone would have to be monitored following installation and during its use to make sure it meets a discharge maximum of no more than one 1 milligram per liter of wastewater effluent.

Any development activity on a shoreline lot would have to put up temporary fencing to eliminate the risk of disturbing the shoreline in the 200-foot zone.

County commissioners approved an update of the 1975 shoreline standards in 2013 after DOE forced commissioners to establish stronger protections for waterways.

That update was appealed by Futurewise, a statewide land-use watchdog; The Lands Council; Spokane Riverkeeper; and Trout Unlimited.

Comments on the changes will be accepted through 5 p.m. on Sept. 17 at the DOE’s Spokane office. The comments should be addressed to Sara Hunt in the shorelines and environmental assistance program at 4601 N. Monroe St., Spokane, WA 99205.

For inquiries about the changes, contact Hunt at (509) 329-3561.

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