Wastewater Management Programs

Santa Cruz County has over 22,000 septic systems, 13,000 of which are in the San Lorenzo River Watershed, which has the highest density of septic systems of any comparable area in the State. The majority of septic systems in the county are over 25 years old and are located on parcels that could not fully meet today's standards for installation of a new septic system due to small lot size, close proximity to a stream, high groundwater, steep slope, or clay soil. Many of these systems have already been repaired or replaced at least once. However, many of the repairs were done prior to 1980 when there were little or no standards for septic system repairs. There were no minimum size requirements and systems were allowed to go in very deep, with little regard to soil conditions or winter groundwater levels.

In order to promote better septic system management and maintenance, County Service Area 12 (CSA 12) was established in 1989 by the County Board of Supervisors. CSA 12 supports and promotes effective septic system pumping and maintenance in all unsewered areas of the County by providing capacity at the Watsonville and Santa Cruz Wastewater Treatment Plans for disposal of septic tank sludge, collection of disposal fees for operation and maintenance of the Santa Cruz Septage Disposal Facility, annual inspections and monitoring of nonstandard systems, investigation of septic system problem areas, water quality monitoring and computerized tracking of septic system performance, pumping and maintenance.