Warning notices have been sent to 37 San Fernando Valley businesses telling them they have less than four months to abandon septic tanks, which may leak into water supplies, and instead dump their waste in city sewers, city sanitation officials said Tuesday.
The firms were told last May that they had to switch from septic tanks to sewers, said Publio Aliwalas, an engineer with the city Bureau of Sanitation. The action came under a 1985 city ordinance that requires Valley businesses to abandon their septic tanks within a year of notification that they have access to sewers.
The law is intended to prevent further pollution of Valley wells that furnish about 15% of Los Angeles' water. It is suspected that illegal dumping of solvents and other hazardous chemicals into unmonitored septic tanks and cesspools, which many sanitation officials describe as "bottomless tanks," has contributed to the pollution.
Since the first notices were sent out last May, 754 firms have been ordered to switch to sewers, Aliwalas said; 145 have been connected to the sewer system.
The city probably will have to send notices to many more companies before they switch to sewers, said Mal Toy, the bureau's assistant division head for waste-water management. "Everyone has a habit of waiting until the last minute on something like this," he said.
Businesses may want to delay because they have to pay for sewer service and because sewers are closely monitored for illegal dumping, Toy said.
Companies that fail to meet the deadline will have their septic tanks sealed and may face criminal or civil actions, Toy said.