Chapter 15.14


15.14.010    Title.

15.14.020    Purpose.

15.14.030    Definitions.

15.14.040    Applicability.

15.14.050    Administrative responsibilities.

15.14.060    Connections, extensions and alterations to utility system – Review and approval.

15.14.070    Water and sewer service requirements.

15.14.080    Unauthorized connections and use of water prohibited – Charges.

15.14.090    Water and sewer system extension requirements.

15.14.100    Service connections required within local improvement district.

15.14.110    Alternate methods and materials.

15.14.120    Easements.

15.14.130    Inspections – Required.

15.14.140    Inspections – Right-of-entry.

15.14.150    Correction of unsafe conditions.

15.14.160    Unlawful discharges to county sewers.

15.14.170    Connection fees and rates.

15.14.180    Permits – Fees and charges.

15.14.190    Billing and collections responsibilities of property owner.

15.14.200    Maintenance of utility systems.

15.14.210    Water quality and cross connection control.

15.14.220    Water conservation.

15.14.230    Interlocal agreements.

15.14.240    Liability.

15.14.250    Violation – Penalty.

15.14.260    Severability.

*Codifier’s note: Previous ordinances and resolutions, now repealed, for water and sewer utility are Ordinances 81-593 and 5227 and Resolutions 2302, 4088 and 4956, codified as former CCC 15.14; Resolution 5146, codified as former CCC 15.18.

Chapter 36.94 RCW: Sewerage, water and drainage systems.
Chapter 15.22 CCC: Sewer and water rates.
Chapter 16.05 CCC: Building Code (plumbing).

15.14.010 Title.

This chapter may be called the “Cowlitz County Water and Sewer Utility Code.” [Ord. 84-213, § 1, 9-24-84.]

15.14.020 Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to:

A. Provide for the design, acquisition, construction, management, operation and maintenance of water and sewer facilities owned and operated by Cowlitz County, and to authorize the Department to adopt regulations relating thereto;

B. Provide for operating and maintaining the water and sewer utility in a financially sound manner as required by Chapter 36.94 RCW, and to promote the public health, safety, and welfare. [Ord. 84-213, § 2, 9-24-84.]

15.14.030 Definitions.

“Board” means the Cowlitz County Board of Commissioners.

“Cross connection” means a physical connection through which a public potable water supply could be contaminated or polluted, or a connection between a supervised potable water supply and an unsupervised supply of unknown potability.

“County” means Cowlitz County, Washington.

“Department” means the Cowlitz County Department of Public Works. Also referred to as “Utility.”

“Director” means the Director of the Department, or his/her designee.

“Latecomer” means any person who was not an original participant in the costs of construction of a water or sewer system improvement or extension, and who later requests service therefrom.

“Person” means an individual, partnership, corporation, association, unincorporated organization, trust or any other legal or commercial entity, including a joint venture. The word “person” shall also include the state and any unit of federal, state, or local government.

“Private system” means any water or sewer system which is not part of the utility system defined in this chapter.

“Property owner” means the fee owner, except that with respect to property being sold under a real estate contract it shall mean the contract purchaser, and with respect to property subject to a deed-of-trust it means the grantor.

“Sewage” means water-carrying waste discharged from the sanitary facilities of buildings occupied or used by people.

“Sewer” means a conduit designed or used to transport wastewater, and into which stormwater, surface, and groundwaters are not intentionally admitted.

“Sewer service” means the continuing acceptance by the Utility of sewage from a structure into the sewer system.

“Utility” means the water and sewer utility component of the Department.

“Utility service area” means that area delineated in Cowlitz County’s water and sewer general plan adopted under Chapter 36.94 RCW and the area(s) comprised by any utility local improvement district (ULID) or local improvement district (LID) established under Chapter 36.94 RCW.

“Utility system” means the water or sewer system owned by the county and/or managed by the Utility. Also referred to as the “water or sewer system.”

“Water service installation” means that portion of a public water line running from a water main, or from a stub line of a water main, in a street, right-of-way or an easement to the water meter of the customer to be served. A water service installation consists of a saddle, corporation stop, water services line, meter setter, meter, meter box and appurtenances, or any combination thereof as may be required to furnish the water service. [Ord. 84-213, § 3, 9-24-84.]

15.14.040 Applicability.

The provisions of this chapter, as well as all regulations hereunder, shall apply to all properties within the utility service area. No water or sewer service shall be extended beyond the utility service area boundaries without proper amendment of such service area. [Ord. 84-213, § 4, 9-24-84.]

15.14.050 Administrative responsibilities.

Responsibility for administering the utility system is vested in the Department, which shall have full authority to do whatever is reasonable and appropriate to carry out such responsibility. Without limiting the foregoing, the Department is authorized and directed to:

A. Adopt and implement such regulations as are reasonably necessary to implement this chapter and to carry out other responsibilities of the Utility, as may be established by statute or other codes, ordinances, or regulations of the county or other agencies.

B. Administer the planning, design, acquisition, construction, maintenance and operation, and capital improvements of the utility system.

C. Establish fees, charges and deposits for installation, inspections, permits, and other services; provided, that the Board shall establish connection fees and the periodic rates to be charged for water and/or sewer service.

D. Inspect the utility system, and all connections thereto, as needed to ensure compliance with this chapter and the regulations adopted hereunder.

E. Manage, operate and maintain the utility system in a financially responsible manner.

F. Follow recognized engineering standards and practices.

G. Advise the Board and other county departments on matters relating to the utility system.

H. Assign such assistants, inspectors and other employees as are necessary to carry out the responsibilities of the Department. [Ord. 84-213, § 5, 9-24-84.]

15.14.060 Connections, extensions and alterations to utility system – Review and approval.

No person may connect to, extend, or alter the water or sewer system without prior approval by the Department. Application to connect to, extend, or alter the water or sewer system shall be made to the Department in such form as it shall require. If the Department determines that the proposed action complies with Chapter 36.94 RCW, this chapter, and the regulations adopted hereunder, it shall approve the application; provided, that the Department may condition any such approval to the extent reasonably necessary to better accomplish the purposes of Chapter 36.94 RCW and this chapter. [Ord. 84-213, § 6, 9-24-84.]

15.14.070 Water and sewer service requirements.

Water or sewer service provided by the Department shall be subject to the following conditions:

A. Water and/or sewer service will be provided only upon an approved application and payment of all applicable fees and charges.

B. The Department shall not approve any application for water service unless a satisfactory water main exists, capable of meeting the requirements for pressure, circulation, storage, source of supply, and other requirements established by the Department.

C. The Department shall not approve any application for sewer service unless a satisfactory sewer main with adequate hydraulic and treatment capacity exists, and the main meets other requirements established by the Department.

D. Where a satisfactory water or sewer main does not exist, the Department may nonetheless agree to provide water or sewer service, but only on the condition that the applicant extend the main and/or make system improvements at his/her expense. The Department may also require the installation of oversize mains or system improvements in excess of the applicant’s needs for the benefit of the utility system generally or to enhance service availability to other areas. In such a case the county may, at the direction of the Board, pay the cost of such excess improvements; when the county does so, the Department shall require that persons who later connect to systems so improved pay a pro rata portion of the county’s cost, in addition to the regular hook-up fee.

E. All water services shall be metered.

F. The Utility will deliver water to users only through meters owned by the Utility; except temporary use of fire hydrants for construction, building or related purposes may be authorized by the Utility in accordance with regulations adopted hereunder. [Ord. 84-213, § 7, 9-24-84.]

15.14.080 Unauthorized connections and use of water prohibited – Charges.

Any person who connects to the water system and/or sewer system without obtaining the Department’s prior approval, as required by CCC 15.14.060, shall be charged an unauthorized connection assessment as set by the water and sewer rates adopted by the Board of Cowlitz County Commissioners, which shall be in addition to all other applicable fees and charges. The property owner shall be responsible for payment of all charges, fees, and assessments. Water and/or sewer may be disconnected to the premises until the required charges, fees and assessments are paid and the water service installation and/or sewer connection are approved. [Ord. 23-040 § 1, 6-13-23; Ord. 84-213, § 8, 9-24-84.]

15.14.090 Water and sewer system extension requirements.

The Department shall establish regulations for water and sewer main extensions, oversizing mains and other improvements to the water and sewer systems. All water and sewer main extensions and other system improvements shall, upon completion and written acceptance by the Director, be deemed conveyed to Cowlitz County, and shall become part of the utility system. [Ord. 84-213, § 9, 9-24-84.]

15.14.100 Service connections required within local improvement district.

Any person having a structure with plumbing fixtures within the boundaries of a county water or sewer LID or ULID shall be required to connect to the system serving such LID or ULID within 60 days after receiving notice from the Department to make such connection, or as specified in applicable LID or ULID ordinance. At the end of such 60-day period the Department shall begin assessing service charges regardless of whether the connection has been made. [Ord. 84-213, § 10, 9-24-84.]

15.14.110 Alternate methods and materials.

Upon written approval by the county Engineer, materials and methods not specifically prescribed in any regulations established hereunder may be permitted, provided the alternate is at least substantially equal to the material or methods prescribed by such regulations. [Ord. 84-213, § 11, 9-24-84.]

15.14.120 Easements.

The Utility may require any person seeking to connect to the utility system to provide an easement for water and/or sewer system purposes as a condition to allowing such connection. [Ord. 84-213, § 12, 9-24-84.]

15.14.130 Inspections – Required.

As a condition to the issuance of any permit or authorization by the Utility, each applicant shall be required to consent to reasonable inspections by the Utility or other county agency. [Ord. 84-213, § 13, 9-24-84.]

15.14.140 Inspections – Right-of-entry.

Whenever necessary to make an inspection to enforce any provisions of this chapter or any regulations adopted hereunder, or to inspect any portion of the utility system, or whenever the Director has reasonable cause to believe there exists any condition that is or may represent a threat to the health, safety, or welfare of the general public, the Director may enter onto any property at any reasonable time to inspect and to otherwise perform his duties; provided, the Director shall first make reasonable efforts to contact the person responsible for the premises and shall present proper credentials to such person and request entry onto the premises. If entry is refused, the Director shall have recourse to every remedy provided by law to secure entry. In event of an emergency, the Director is authorized to enter the premises to inspect and to enforce this chapter without first attempting to contact the person responsible for this property. [Ord. 84-213, § 14, 9-24-84.]

15.14.150 Correction of unsafe conditions.

Whenever the Director determines that any condition on any premises is in violation of or is being used contrary to any provision of this chapter or any regulation hereunder, or is unsafe, the Director may order the correction or discontinuance of any such condition or any activity causing such condition. The Director may take appropriate measures, including the discontinuance of service, to enforce any such order. [Ord. 84-213, § 15, 9-24-84.]

15.14.160 Unlawful discharges to county sewers.

No person shall discharge or cause to be discharged, by direct or indirect means, any of the following wastes or substances into any part of the sewer system:

A. Any rainwater from downspouts or other surface or subsurface drainage;

B. Any liquid or vapor having a temperature higher than 150 degrees Fahrenheit;

C. Any water or waste which may contain more than 100 parts per million by weight of fat, oil or grease;

D. Any gasoline, benzene, naphtha, fuel oil or grease; flammable or explosive liquid, solid or gas;

E. Any garbage that is not properly shredded garbage;

F. Any ashes, cinders, sand, mud, straw, hair, shavings, metal, glass, rags, feathers, tar, plastic, wood, manure or other solid or viscous substance capable of causing obstruction to the flow in sewers or other interference with the proper operation of the sewer system;

G. Any waters or wastes having a pH lower than 5.5 or higher than 9.0 or having any other corrosive property capable of causing damage or hazard to structures, equipment and/or personnel of the sewer system;

H. Any waters or wastes containing a toxic or poisonous substance in sufficient quantity to injure or interfere with any sewage treatment process, constitute a hazard to humans or animals or create any hazard in the receiving waters of the sewer system;

I. Any waters or wastes containing suspended solids of such character and quantity that unusual attention or expense is required to handle such materials at the sewage treatment plant;

J. Any noxious or malodorous gas or substance capable of creating a public nuisance. [Ord. 84-213, § 16, 9-24-84.]

15.14.170 Connection fees and rates.

Both connection fees and rates for water and sewer service shall be set by the Board by resolution. Both the rates and the connection fees must be uniform for the same class of customers or service. In classifying customers served, service furnished or made available by the water and/or sewer system, or the connection fees, the Board may consider any or all of the following factors:

A. The difference in cost of service to the various customers within or without the area;

B. The difference in cost of maintenance, operation, repair and replacement of the various parts of the system;

C. The different character of the service furnished various customers;

D. The quantity and quality of the sewage and/or water delivered and the time of its delivery;

E. Capital contribution made to the system or systems, including, but not limited to, assessments; and

F. Any other matters which present a reasonable difference of the grounds for distinction. [Ord. 84-213, § 17, 9-24-84.]

15.14.180 Permits – Fees and charges.

The Director shall from time to time establish fees, charges, and deposits for permits, inspections, and other services provided by the Department such as, but not limited to, plan review, permit processing, engineering, and inspection and installation of water meters. Such fees, charges, and deposits shall be comparable to those prevailing in similar water and sewer systems in the State of Washington, and any changes therein shall be generally reflective of changes in the costs to the county of operating the utility system. [Ord. 84-213, § 18, 9-24-84.]

15.14.190 Billing and collections responsibilities of property owner.

A. The Department shall adopt regulations for billing and collecting water consumption charges, sewer service charges, deposits, and other service charges, fees, and penalties established pursuant to this chapter.

B. All such charges, fees and penalties shall be paid by the property owner, or by a tenant or an agent whom the owner has, in writing, authorized the Department to bill; provided, that each property owner shall remain fully responsible for all charges with respect to his property, whether such charges were incurred by or on account of himself or by or on account of some other person.

C. To protect and perfect the county’s lien rights under RCW 36.94.150, the Department shall periodically certify delinquencies, including charges, interest, and penalties, to the Cowlitz County Treasurer at which time the lien shall attach.

D. The Department shall establish procedures, and take whatever actions are necessary to collect unpaid charges, fees and penalties, plus interest thereon, and may discontinue water and/or sewer service to any premises until all such unpaid charges, fees, penalties and interest have been paid. [Ord. 84-213, § 19, 9-24-84.]

15.14.200 Maintenance of utility systems.

The responsibility of the Utility and the Department shall be limited to operation and management of water and sewer systems owned by Cowlitz County, and it shall not have nor shall it assume any responsibility with respect to private systems except on a contractual basis through a written agreement signed by the Board. [Ord. 84-213, § 20, 9-24-84.]

15.14.210 Water quality and cross connection control.

A. Cross connections are prohibited, and the Department shall adopt regulations to maintain water quality, and shall conduct inspections and take appropriate steps to detect and eliminate any existing or potential cross connections. Private water systems and private well systems shall be physically separated from the water system or be equipped with an approved backflow prevention device at the premises to be served by the water system.

B. The backflow prevention device shall be inspected annually by a certified and licensed inspector. If the property owner fails to have the device inspected, the Department may contract for the inspection service and bill all costs of the inspection and any necessary maintenance of the backflow prevention device to the property owner. [Ord. 84-213, § 21, 9-24-84.]

15.14.220 Water conservation.

The Department may develop and administer any programs necessary to further water conservation or to comply with water conservation requirements of any local, state or federal agency having jurisdiction within the utility service area. [Ord. 84-213, § 22, 9-24-84.]

15.14.230 Interlocal agreements.

The Department, with approval from the Board, may enter into such agreements with local, state or federal agencies or jurisdictions as may be appropriate in administering the provisions of this chapter. [Ord. 84-213, § 23, 9-24-84.]

15.14.240 Liability.

The Director and any other employee charged with enforcement of the chapter, acting in good faith and without malice in the discharge of his/her duties shall not be liable personally for any damages that may result to person or property from any act required under this chapter or from any act or omission in the discharge of such duties. Cowlitz County shall not be liable or responsible for any direct or consequential damage to any person or property caused by any cessation of water supply or reduced or insufficient water supply. [Ord. 84-213, § 24, 9-24-84.]

15.14.250 Violation – Penalty.

A. Any person violating any provision of this chapter or any regulations adopted hereunder shall be guilty of a misdemeanor; provided, that no person convicted thereof shall be subject to imprisonment.

B. Each day a violation continues shall be deemed a separate offense. A conviction under this chapter and subsequent application of penalty shall not relieve the violator from compliance with this chapter or the regulations hereunder. [Ord. 84-213, § 25, 9-24-84.]

15.14.260 Severability.

If any section, subsection, or other portion of this chapter is for any reason held invalid or unconstitutional by any court of competent jurisdiction, such section, subsection, or other portion thereof shall be deemed a separate provision of this chapter and such holding shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this chapter. [Ord. 84-213, § 27, 9-24-84.]