Groundwater Protection Action:

With the repeal of the interim Deschutes County ordinance 2008-019, Deschutes County has been coordinating with Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regarding where nitrogen-reducing onsite wastewater systems are necessary. DEQ staff, including a hydrologist, review specific properties and determine the appropriate level of treatment required on a site-specific basis.  County and DEQ coordination for permitting is intended to continue while the South Deschutes/Northern Klamath Groundwater Protection Steering Committee meets and makes recommendations for appropriate long-term protective action in the area.

When a property needs a new system or a major repair, a review determines the level of treatment necessary to protect water resources. Where there is increased risk to nearby drinking water wells or surface waters, DEQ and the County agree that additional treatment is necessary. Typically, this results in the requirement for a nitrogen-reducing onsite wastewater treatment technology. Current rules(see below) for onsite wastewater systems require that we protect public waters from public health hazards.

OAR 340-071-0130, General Standards, Prohibitions and Requirements:

(1) Protection of public waters from public health hazards. An agent may not authorize installation or use of a system that is likely to pollute public waters or create a public health hazard. If, in the judgment of the agent, the minimum standards in this division will not adequately protect public waters or public health on a particular site, the agent must require a system to meet requirements that are protective. This may include but is not limited to increasing setbacks, increasing drainfield sizing, or using an alternative system. The agent must provide the applicant with a written statement of the specific reasons why more stringent requirements are necessary.

 NOTE:  This requirement does not change siting criteria for onsite systems.  Siting criteria include setbacks from property lines or wells and separation from ground surface to the highest level reached by groundwater.