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Auburn Lake Trails Wastewater Zone - FAQ

Why does Georgetown Divide Public Utility District Inspect Auburn Lake Trails septic systems?

Answer: Georgetown Divide Public Utility District (the District) management of Auburn Lake Trails (ALT) septic systems was required by the State in order for any homes to be built in ALT.  In order for ALT to be developed, the State required on‑site wastewater disposal (i.e. septic) systems to be managed by a “responsible management authority”.  The District was designated as the “responsible management authority” by the State.  Management guidelines were established by the State in a sequence of Waste Discharge Requirements (WDRs).  The most recent being issued in 2002 (Order No. R5-2002-0031).  The State WDR only applies to ALT.

What is the function of the Waste Discharge Requirement?

Answer: The WDR provides the District with a set of guidelines developed to protect human health, surface water quality and groundwater quality in order to maintain the thriving community and development.

What is required of the Waste Discharge Requirement?

Answer: Below is a list of requirements outlined by the WDR and required to be completed by the District.

Weekly:

  • Inspect lift station;
  • Monitor and record effluent flow;
  • Operate back-up generator; and
  • Inspect/maintain community leach fields.

Monthly:

  • Report of activities completed;
  • Prepare/distribute monthly inspection notifications and maintenance letters;
  • Submit no spill certification to California Integrated Water Quality System Project.

Quarterly:

  • Laboratory analytical analysis of Community Disposal System (CDS) influent stream;
  • Groundwater monitoring and sampling; and
  • Submit Quarterly Wastewater Management Zone Monitoring and Sampling Report to the State Water Resources Control Board.

Annual:

  • Inspect approximately 1,020 individual wastewater disposal systems;
  • Laboratory analytical analysis of groundwater adjacent to Mound wastewater disposal systems;
  • Laboratory analytical analysis of select surface water drainages;
  • Submit Annual Wastewater Management Zone Monitoring and Sampling Report to the State Water Resources Control Board.

Ongoing/As Required:

  • Escrow inspection/reporting;
  • New construction design review/inspection;
  • Maintenance activities (e.g. manhole, sewer line inspection/repair and miscellaneous repair)
  • Customers inquiries (e.g. system problem/questions, general ALT management questions)
  • Special visits (e.g. inspection follow-up, general system inquiry, inspection dispute)
  • Emergency Repairs (e.g. leach field, pressure main, sanitary sewer overflow); and
  • Special studies (e.g. inflow/infiltration analysis, State correspondence).

What is Community Disposal System vs. Non-Community Disposal System?

Answer:

Community Disposal System:

The CDS refers to 137 properties that are connected to a community wastewater collection system and community leach field.  These properties each have their own septic tank for removal and treatment of solids.  Following individual property septic tank treatment, their wastewater is collected in sanitary sewer conveyance piping, then pumped by a central pump station to a community leach field for subsurface disposal.

Non-Community Disposal System

Non-CDS refers to approximately 1,019 properties that utilize individual property wastewater disposal systems.  These properties each have their own individual septic tank and on-site disposal of wastewater.

What infrastructure is the District responsible for and what is the property owner’s responsibility?

Answer: The District is responsible for the collection and disposal system outside the individual property boundaries.

Property owners are responsible for all wastewater disposal infrastructure that is located on their property.  For CDS properties, that includes septic tank maintenance and piping/cleanouts up to their property boundary.  For non-CDS properties, that includes the septic tank, transfer pumps (if any), disposal field, piping, cleanouts, etc.

Does the District complete repairs?

Answer: The District does not complete repairs.  Repairs are the responsibility of the homeowner. 

What is included in the Districts annual inspection?

Answer: The District inspects septic tank condition and any factors that may cause a disposal system failure.  This includes, root infiltration, sludge/scum levels, inlet and outlet tees, distribution box, disposal fields/riser and if applicable transfer pump function; including float switches and alarms.

What is the criteria for septic tank pumping?

Answer: The State WDR requires a septic tank be pumped when the combination of sludge and scum levels measured in a septic tank reach 25 percent of septic tank capacity.  This is the sole factor that determines the need for septic tank pumping.

Does the District require septic tanks to be pumped at property transfer?

Answer: This is not a requirement of the District or the State WDR.  The State WDR requires a septic tank be pumped when the combination of sludge and scum levels measured in a septic tank reach 25 percent of septic tank capacity.  This is the sole factor that determines the need for septic tank pumping.

How do property transfers within Auburn Lake Trails work and what does the fee pay for?

Answer: A property transfer form is submitted to the District by the property owner or listing agent.  An initial inspection is conducted by the District and a letter is issued to the requester.  The letter either clears the property for escrow or identifies needed repairs to bring the septic system into compliance.  If repairs are needed the District will conduct a follow up inspection once notified and issue a final letter.

How do I construct a new septic system?

Answer: Septic construction plans completed by a Registered Environmental Health Specialist are submitted to El Dorado County Environmental Health Department (EDCEHD) by the property owner.  The EDCEHD sends plans to the District for review/approval.  The District corresponds directly with property owner for any plan revisions.  Upon final plan design the District sends approval to EDCEHD for construction to commence.  The District conducts all inspections and will verify once complete with the property owner.  The property owner uses this verification in their final permit package from El Dorado County.

Why do I need to add an additional pump tank?

Answer: Current El Dorado County Code requires new onsite septic pump systems install a separate pump tank and effluent filter.  Research has shown that suspended solids carry-over from the septic tank into the disposal trenches is one of the most common causes of septic system failure and systems without a separate pump tank have the potential for significant solids carry-over which can result in costly maintenance such as frequent hydro-flushing and tank pump-outs, and eventually a system failure.

Why don’t all lots pay the same bi-monthly wastewater fees?

Answer: Bi-monthly wastewater fees are property-related fees that are established based on the services received; therefore, CDS lots pay different wastewater fees from the non-CDS lots.  All wastewater zone customers fund District activities associated with wastewater discharge permit requirements including inspections, water quality sampling and quarterly and annual reporting to the State, as well as associated costs of those activities such as tools and supplies, vehicles and fuel.

In addition to the activities described above, the wastewater fee charged to CDS customers also include costs to maintain the sanitary sewer conveyance piping, manholes, pump station, force main, and community leach fields.  Pump station and leach fields are inspected weekly and conveyance piping, manholes and force mains are inspected yearly to prevent any unauthorized release of wastewater and to limit the amount of rain water infiltration.

I am part of the Community Disposal System.  Why would I need to potentially upgrade my septic tank?

Answer: Periodically or during a property transfer, the District conducts a water tight test to investigate if septic tanks installed at CDS lots are leaking.  A majority of the septic tanks within the CDS are greater than 20 years old and are prone to leaking.  Septic tank leaking is a problem because during the rainy season, rain water runoff infiltrates the septic tanks and CDS system and has the potential to exceed the allowable CDS discharge.  Discharge limitations are set by the State WDR and any violations would lead to enforcement action by the State. 

How are fees calculated?

Answer:  The following table extraced from the 2019 Cost of Service and Rate Design for Auburn Lake Trails Wastewater Management Zone provides a breakdown of cost allocation for each customer classification (i.e. property/lot type).  The entire Cost of Service and Rate Design for Auburn Lake Trails Wastewater Management Zone can be found on the Districts website.  https://www.gd-pud.org/files/c6fa4eb2d/Final+-+ALT+Rate+Study.pdf

May contain: nature, outdoors, and night
Notes:
CDS - Community Disposal System
Op Exp - Operating Expense

Resources

A copy of WDR Order No. R5-2002-0031 and monitoring and reporting program can be found on the District’s website at:

http://www.gd‑pud.org/uploads/files/development_&_construction/studies_&_reports/pdfs/2003State‑DRs.pdf; and

https://www.gd-pud.org/files/7dd64ec9e/2002+WDR-Monitoring-Reporting-Program.pdf.

If you have any questions, please contact the District’s Water Resources Manager, Adam Brown at (530) 333-4356 ext. 110.