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Alta Sierra seeks septic study

Study our septic systems. Figure out how many are failing and what’s causing it.

That’s the request the Alta Sierra Property Owners Association has sent the Nevada County Board of Supervisors.



A motion made by Supervisor Sue Horne on Dec. 18 to fund a $5,000 study of septic system failures in Alta Sierra died for lack of support from the four other supervisors.




The study was connected to the planning process for a regional “super sewer,” a proposed sewage line that could run from Nevada County to Lincoln.

Supervisor Peter Van Zant expressed concern that such a super sewer could induce growth.

But the super sewer isn’t an issue for the Alta Sierra Property Owners Association, said President Al Schafer.

“We’re not taking a position on (the super sewer),” Schafer said Thursday. The association just wants to know “now that the issue has surfaced do we, in fact, have … septic system failures?”

The proposed $5,000 study would have paid for a county employee to randomly select 300 parcels and review environmental health files to get a sense of how many septic systems are failing in the roughly 3,000-parcel community.

A citizens committee has formed and is willing to look through the county’s files, which are public information, Schafer said.

“I’m hoping the citizens committee can do the work for less money,” he said.

Norm Greenberg, county director of Environmental Health, said, “It’s my sense that there’s a number of problem areas” for septic systems in Alta Sierra.

Reviewing the county’s files would be one way to try to assess the extent and cause of septic system failures, he said. But other information would be needed, too, he said: ground water monitoring, surface water monitoring and interviews with residents.

Greenberg suggested holding a community workshop on the issue during talks with Horne, who represents Alta Sierra.

Horne said the meeting’s purpose would be “to have public input and see what people want in the community.”

In the past, problems with failed septic systems prompted state officials to enact moratoriums on building in different parts of Nevada County, including North San Juan, Penn Valley and subdivisions near Truckee.

The Alta Sierra Property Owners Association’s board voted unanimously to ask county supervisors for a septic system study.


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