A draft report released last month by Marin’s Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO, which is now open for public comment, suggests that it may be advisable for the North Marin Water District to fold a last remaining part of Dillon Beach into its area of wastewater service.
The recent “sphere of influence report” for North Marin, which LAFCO releases every five years to suggest boundary changes for the water district, focuses on about 13 acres that include 156 private parcels. The report outlines the need for transitioning the parcels’ septic systems to a public system, a move that would help expand the economies of scale necessary to improve community funding to cover future infrastructure improvements.
Dillon Beach is seeing more year-round residents in a historically seasonal village, where sea-level rise poses new threats, according to LAFCO’s executive officer, Keene Simonds.
“The ongoing conversion of the homes from seasonal to more year-round uses suggests the onsite septic systems are becoming increasingly antiquated,” Mr. Simonds said.
According to Mr. Simonds, sea-level rise will further stress septic systems through intrusion and corrosion. North Marin, which handles wastewater from the majority of the rest of Dillon Beach through a sewer system, is best equipped to address these problems, he said.
North Marin has annexed other portions of Dillon Beach over the years, and has a sewer line in place that runs through the area addressed in the LAFCO report. Since individual homeowners already can apply to hook up to that system, Rachel Jones, an administrative analyst for LAFCO, said folding in the final section of Dillon Beach would eliminate the current “piecemeal” approach.
Drew McIntyre, the general manager for North Marin, said that incorporating this final piece of Dillon Beach is just a suggestion from LAFCO, one that the district “will need to consider by conducting surveys to determine the feasibility of, as the system was not designed to connect this community.”
The draft report recommends that LAFCO, the water district, and the affected residents begin discussing the pros and cons of a possible sphere expansion to include some or all of the remaining area now, before the next scheduled sphere update in five years.
If residents are interested, they would have to bear the brunt of the cost of creating new sewers in the area, a new pump system, and hooking everything up to the existing system in Dillon Beach, which would also have to be modified to handle increased capacity, Mr. McIntyre said.
But Ms. Jones thinks doing so will pay off over time. “In the long term, it will likely be less expensive for residents to join onto the public system, after the initial expense for infrastructure,” she said, adding that private septic systems can require replacement every 30 years or so at a cost of up to $80,000. On the other hand, after the initial fees, upkeep for the system would be the responsibility of the district.
The draft report is available at marinlafco.org. Written comments should be submitted to Keene Simonds at email@example.com no later than Monday, July 24. Comments may also be provided directly to LAFCO at a hearing on the final report on Thursday, Aug. 10.