Changing Washington State Regs

February 6, 2018
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People often ask PHLUSH about legal residential alternatives to sewered sanitation and currently authorized onsite septic systems. While code change and affordable housing lie outside our mission, we track resources of interest to emergency response planners in anticipation of a major Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake. In addition, we’re learning the numerous steps necessary to alter the current regulatory environment. As for understanding codes, PHLUSH has done just enough work to know how painstaking it is.

Therefore, we recommend studying the research done by Recode. Recode works to ensure access to and accelerate adoption of sustainable building and development practices. Among their partners are the International Living Futures Institute, the Oregon Environmental Council and the Bullitt Foundation.

UPDATE from Recode!!!!! 2017 WE-Stand Draft Document is now available here. Recode released the Recode Model Code for Composting and Urine Diverting Toilets as a public domain document before submitting it this draft to WE Stand. While some language was moved and changed, the underlying content and requirements match.  Thanks to Recode, readers can avoid having to order the official document for $70 the official document entitled Water Efficiency and Sanitation Standard for the Built EnvironmentWE Stand 2017, IAMPO/ANSI  This American National Standard provides minimum requirements for water use practices that maintain protection to public health, safety, and welfare. It applies to residential and commercial building indoors and outdoors. It contains the first set of comprehensive codified requirements for composting and urine diversion toilets, and progressive provisions for uses of gray water generated from clothes washers in landscape irrigation.

Essential Reading

Opportunities for Achieving Next Generation Water Infrastructure in California, Oregon and Washington. Recode, ILFI, Oregon Environmental Council, 2017.  Working with a broad spectrum of stakeholders, the authors identify barriers and offer a coherent approach to creating and testing solution pathways.  Noting the rapidly changing world of the treatment of drinking water, greywater and blackwater, they focus on  performance codes rather than prescriptive process-oriented codes.

2018 Developments in WA Code Change:

  • Reclaimed Water Rule adopted  The Reclaimed Water Rule setting design and construction requirements for advanced treatment of sewage, and its use for irrigation, toilet flushing, and related uses was signed into effect January 23. Under the new rule, both DOH and Ecology may issue permits. Health will issue permits for reclaimed water projects linked to on-site sewage system permits and continue to assist Ecology with reclamation projects and permits associated with permits they issue. See Reclaimed Water Chapter 173-219 WAC
  • State Board of Health directs the Department of Health to begin rule revision on On-site Sewage Systems. The State Board of Health has directed us to begin rule revision of WAC 246-272A, the On-site Sewage System rule. Last revised in 2005, we are required to review the rule every four years to determine if it still meets its intent to protect public health and ground and surface waters. The review process included many diverse stakeholders and identified a number of key issues, including design, maintenance, and monitoring requirements that need updating in the rule. See info on WAC 246-272A here.

Case Studies from the Code Innovations Database  1-minute video intro to Database

Information on Treating Non Potable Water

Communities seeking approval for dry toilet systems need to demonstrate to local public health officials that household water needs can also be met onsite. Innovative testing protocols have been developed for harvested rainwater, storm run off, laundry and other graywaters.

Risk-Based Framework for the Development of Public Health Guidance for Decentralized Non-Potable Water Systems. Prepared by the National Water Research Institute (NWRI) for the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WERF). Alexandria, VA. 2017

Multi-Benefits of Adopting the Risk-based Framework for Onsite Non-potable Water Systems. Prepared by Recode, this document provides talking points for advocates to use with public officials.

More Resources

Plumbers without Borders. This Bothel WA-based nonprofit supports waterless toilet systems internationally, where there is a much larger body of evidence for the performance of new and developmentally appropriate technologies. PWB, which was founded by Washington plumbers in 2010, is still mainly volunteer-driven representing the heart and voice of humanitarian plumbers everywhere. In addition to connecting volunteer plumbers with projects and organizations committed to reducing water and sanitation poverty, PWB is creating a hub for educational and advocacy resources.

Going Local: How a Resilient Approach to Wastewater Could Help Communities Prosper As America’s pipes and plants age, it’s time to re-envision urban water services. By Rebecca Wodder. Earth Island Journal. July 25, 2018.

A Northwest Vision for 2040 Water Infrastructure. Center for Sustainable Infrastructure. Evergreen State College. 2017.

Policy Making for Healthy, Resilient Water Systems in The Puget Sound. Cascadia Green Building Council. 2011. (Info from all counties except Jefferson. It would be cool to feed county data into SFDs)

Advocating a Living Future: Advocacy Resources-Water Regulation for Resilience. Kresge Foundation & International Living Future Foundation, Dec 2015.

Jefferson County (WA) On-Site Sewage Code. Jefferson County (WA) Board of Health.  Code is current through Ordinance 1-17, passed May 22, 2017.  Jefferson County website lists info and links for greywater, composting toilets, rainwater harvesting etc. and independent professionals, including systems designers.

King County Title 28.84.050—Sewage Disposal Rules and Regulations  King County has recently relaxed their code to allow a value of zero for capacity charges for systems that are “engineered to function without discharging into the metropolitan sewage facilities”. Should a “zero discharge system” experience three discharge events to the metropolitan sewage facilities during any 15-year period, “the structure shall then be immediately converted to a conventional capacity charge calculation” and “assessed the full 15-year capacity charge rate applicable during the year of the third discharge event”.

SFD Manual Volume 1 and 2 Version 2.0 SFD Promotion Initiative. SuSanA, GIZ, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 2017. Shit Flow Diagrams are a new way of visualizing excreta management in cities and towns. Here’s how to create an SFD.

Fecal Sludge Management: Systems Approach for Implementation and Operation. Strande, L., Ronteltap, M., Brdjanovic, D. (Eds.) IWA, 2014.

Key articles edited by the Wikipedia Sanitation Project

Tools from the PHLUSH Advocacy Toolkit

“Public calls for composting toilets.” Kirk Boxleitner The Port Townsend Leader. Jan 31, 2018

Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human (PHLUSH) was founded in Portland, Oregon and today collaborates with groups across North America.

PHLUSH is a member of the World Toilet Organization and a partner in the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance.

Our Mission Through education and advocacy, PHLUSH helps local governments and citizen groups to provide equitable public restroom availability and to prepare for a pipe-breaking seismic event with appropriate ecological toilet systems.

Our Vision Toilet availability is a human right and well-designed sanitation systems restore health to our cities, our waters and our soils.

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