Public Announcements

Public Forums Regarding LAMP Water Quality Assessment Program 

To fulfill responsibilities outlined in Humboldt County’s Local Area Management Plan (LAMP), Division of Environmental Health (DEH) staff are initiating an evaluation of the LAMP’s water quality assessment program to better understand the performance of existing Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (OWTS) and consider any negative effects of OWTS on our groundwater and surface water resources. Required every five years, the evaluation report will be submitted to the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. The key to a thorough assessment is consideration of the community experience.

To support this effort, DEH is planning three public comment workshops this year:

  • May 17, 2022, 5:30 - 7 p.m.: Online Preliminary Workshop (Registration via Eventbrite)
  • June: TBD following Preliminary Workshop
  • July: TBD following Preliminary Workshop

DEH encourages all stakeholders to participate in these workshops to discuss their water quality concerns as well as their experience with existing regulations and potential revisions. Venue information for the upcoming in-person workshops will be updated as locations are secured. For more information regarding the upcoming public workshops, contact DEH Land Use Program staff at 707-445-6215 or envhealth@co.humboldt.ca.us.

Update on 2022 Wet Weather Testing Season for OWTS Site Evaluation

In response to cumulative rainfall totals of the 2021-2022 water year, Humboldt County did not receive sufficient precipitation to open the 2022 wet weather testing season for OWTS site evaluations. As required by the Regulation and Technical Manual (RTM), the regulatory portion of the Humboldt County Onsite Wastewater LAMP, the wet weather testing season opens when half the annual cumulative rainfall is reached in Eureka (19 inches) or when 10 inches of rainfall is observed within a 30-day period.

The lack of adequate rainfall and inability to open the Wet Weather Testing season will impact the community’s capacity to complete OWTS suitability testing and design preparation for some projects, most notably those within the County’s designated Variance Prohibition Areas (VPAs).  However, the RTM allows alternative methods to complete OWTS suitability testing outside of the wet season in most areas of the county if certain criteria are met. DEH recommends contacting your OWTS consultant to discuss whether the alternative testing methods may be applicable to your project.

VPAs have site characteristics unique to each specific location and special attention is prudent to ensure public and environmental health protections, the RTM explicitly requires wet weather testing for OWTS development within VPAs. As a result, all anticipated percolation testing and groundwater monitoring required for OWTS development within VPAs must be postponed until the next testing opportunity.

For more information regarding OWTS site evaluation regulations, DEH recommends reviewing the OWTS Regulations and Technical Manual or contacting DEH Land Use Program staff at envhealth@co.humboldt.ca.us or 707-445-6215.

Applications, Renewals, and Complaint Reports

The Division of Environmental Health is now accepting applications, renewals, and complaint reports online through the Accela Citizen Access portal. To submit an application, visit the Accela Citizen Access page and click register for an account.

View the Accela registration instructions PDF, or contact our office at 707-445-6215 for assistance. Complaints can be reported anonymously and do not require a registered account.

DEH and Sanctuary Forest produce the 2021 Water Efficiency Workshop

On Sept. 28, 2021, DEH and the Humboldt County Drought Task Force held a Zoom-based 2021 Water Efficiency Workshop featuring Tasha McKee and April Newlander of Sanctuary Forest. McKee talked about water conservation, river protection successes through educational efforts, developing partnerships with community members and facilitating forbearance for those living and working in the Mattole River watershed. She shared a Power Point presentation, PDF available here.

County Chief Building Official Keith Ingersoll and DEH Senior Environmental Health Specialist Joey Whittlesey also participated. Ingersoll and Whittlesey described water saving permit programs available through the county including: Rainwater catchment, storage tanks, greywater systems and waterless toilet systems. View a recording of the meeting here (Youtube).

Drought Raises Public Health Concerns

Under drought conditions, groundwater supplies and reduced stream flows increase the concentration of pollutants in water and cause stagnation and elevated water temperatures. Warmer waters increase the growth of some pathogens and harmful algal blooms, leading to reduced oxygen levels that threaten aquatic life and can be harmful to animals and people. As a result, drinking water supplied from private wells and surface water diversions may be at higher risk for drought-related infectious disease.

As drought conditions persist, some water supply sources may experience diminished production or may fail to produce altogether. Any residents using private water supplies and experiencing water shortages are encouraged to use the California Department of Water Resources’ reporting tool: mydrywatersupply.water.ca.gov/report. DEH staff can assist in submitting this report on behalf of those with limited internet accessibility. If you are currently experiencing an emergency water shortage or your domestic water supply has gone dry, contact DEH immediately for guidance in servicing or replacing the impacted source.