On Thursday, Nov. 16, the San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) Board of Health adopted new regulations governing On-site Wastewater Treatment Systems (OWTS) in Archuleta, La Plata and San Juan Counties following a long stakeholder outreach process. These Regulations will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

On June 30, 2017, new statewide regulations went into effect for OWTS in Colorado. These regulations required all local public health agencies in the state, including SJBPH, to revise their local OWTS regulations to meet or exceed the minimum statewide standard. SJBPH conducted outreach beginning in the fall of 2016 with wastewater industry professionals, county planning commissioners, state regulators, the real estate community, and many others, to write a regulation that protects public health and water quality while providing certainty to the industry and to homeowners.

The 2018 Regulations include three major changes toward these goals:

  • Direct adoption of statewide design and construction standards to reduce confusion and provide consistency with neighboring counties;
  • Allowing more design options, including smaller active treatment systems, which may reduce costs for some homeowners and allow for septic systems to be more easily installed on difficult sites;
  • Beginning in 2019, requiring that most properties served by an OWTS be inspected prior to sale, to identify and quickly repair failing or hazardous systems, and to protect buyers from unforeseen and costly repairs. This requirement is delayed to allow more time for property owners, real estate professionals, and the wastewater industry to prepare for the new requirements.

“We are pleased to take this important step in protecting public health and water quality,” said SJBPH Executive Director Liane Jollon. “The new OWTS Regulations at the state and local level bring us closer to best practices in on-site wastewater management. We want to thank all of our stakeholders in all three counties for working closely with us to produce these Regulations.”

SJBPH will be offering trainings on the new Regulations for OWTS designers, contractors, inspectors, and real estate professionals beginning in December and continuing throughout 2018. The schedule of trainings will be kept up-to-date at sjbpublichealth.org/septic. The complete 2018 OWTS Regulations, along with the statewide standards, can be found at the same location.