SEPTIC FEES AND FEARS:
Many homeowners who use private wells or live along Thurston County’s waterways already know how important it is to have a well-functioning septic system. Seepage into the ground can taint a well. As a result, many home owners do not object to paying for a county permit every few years to operate these on-site systems.
But now a proposal to expand the county’s permit system to include all of Thurston County’s 53,000 septic systems is running into resistance from some homeowners who don’t see a need for a change.
The permit system requires that the system be inspected periodically by a third party to ensure it is not damaged, and it ensures that tanks are pumped on a regular basis.
Indeed some who testified last week at a public hearing argued there is no evidence of failing systems. There is a logic to that, if systems are indeed not failing.
It’s fair, we think, to see their resistance as symptomatic of a deeper resentment toward government and environmental regulations that helped elect two more right-of-center candidates to the commission starting in 2017.
The fee proposal is backed by the two retiring Democratic commissioners, Sandra Romero and Cathy Wolfe, whose terms expire this year. The fees would be $19, $38 and $57 starting in 2018, if adopted.
A final vote could come today (Dec. 15).
The government does sometimes sprout long arms and reach further than it should. But long term, it’s reasonable to take steps to ensure that private sewage treatment devices are functioning in a way that doesn’t put water supplies, or bodies of water, at risk.
Requiring permits with monitoring for all new systems is a minimum requirement.
NO FIREWORKS ON FIREWORKS:
The Tumwater City Council has enacted a fireworks ban starting in 2018. The vote to follow voters’ wishes was unanimous. A city-wide advisory ballot measure Nov. 8 had carried by just 78 votes on the question of a total ban on personal fireworks.
It was the council’s inability to reach compromise in June that sent the matter to the ballot.
In voting to enact the ban, the council was doing what it said it would do — abide by the people’s vote. Clearly the people have spoken — narrowly — in favor of ending a Tumwater city tradition.
To its credit, the City Council entertained a compromise amendment before enacting the ordinance banning personal fireworks use.
The compromise would have allowed sparklers July 4 only. That amendment failed on a 3-to-4 vote.
Resident David Nicandri had opposed the complete ban and favored a compromise as far back as June. Given the close advisory vote last month, he urged the council to again consider a compromise.
Banning personal fireworks is good public policy in urban areas, and the ban brings the city in line with Olympia and Lacey. In Tumwater, this was a tougher decision to make. The city prides itself on a Fourth of July celebration that includes a yearly parade and public fireworks show put on by trained experts.
Many residents enjoy adding a little spark of their own.
It will be interesting to see if complaints about fireworks decline as a result of this new rule.