Countywide : Officials Try to Ease Septic Tank Limits

Ventura County officials have drafted several amendments to soften the impact of a proposal by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board that would limit the use of septic tanks in Ventura County.

The regional board is responsible for monitoring the quality of water in the Los Angeles Basin, which encompasses most of Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Several cases of ground-water contamination in northeastern Los Angeles County have prompted the board to try to limit building plans that would include septic tanks. The proposal would prohibit septic tanks on property smaller than five acres.

The Ventura County Board of Supervisors and county planners want to allow septic tanks on lots of all sizes if the property meets established guidelines and is not in areas plagued by ground-water contamination.


Robert Gallagher, environmental resources section manager of the county Environmental Health Department, said septic tanks are not the only cause of ground-water contamination. Fertilizers and waste from farms and dairies also contribute, he said.

If the tanks were prohibited on small lots, many property owners would be unable to develop their land because the property is too far from existing sewer lines, Gallagher said.

Although the water board has authority over the county in making policy decisions, Gallagher said water board members seem amenable to the county’s proposed amendments. The regional board meeting on the proposal will take place at 9 a.m. May 21 in Ventura City Hall.