A group of Orinda residents won't have to trade in their septic tanks for a sewer line -- at least not yet.
Trustees of the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District voted Thursday to reverse a decision that would have enabled some residents of the rural El Toyonal area to install a sewer line whose cost would have been financed by the district but ultimately covered by residents.
But the district upheld a decision that would extend the repayment period from 10 to 20 years for residents to pay back any financing the district may provide to cover the cost of a future sewer line installation, should that occur.
Opponents argued that they did not want to replace their septic tanks or pay for a sewer system they neither want or need, and said the people requesting the change owned land they hoped to develop and sell.
The conflict began earlier this year when a group of residents approached Central San about installing a sewer line in their neighborhood. On May 17, boardmembers voted to provide financing that would have covered the cost of the sewer for non-participants after proponents said they would not be able to afford the installation -- estimated to cost more than $475,000 under one scenario.
Under Central San policy, if a majority of people in an area want a sewer but the cost is extremely high, the district may provide financing even though some residents with septic tanks don't choose to hook up to the new line.
Board President James Nejedly, who initially opposed the decision to finance the sewer, warned residents that a sewer line will eventually come into their area. That would happen if and when a majority of residents vote to install a line. Until then, a 1970 Contra Costa County ban on any new septic tanks in the El Toyonal area allows users to repair or replace their tanks unless certain conditions are breached -- or a sewer line becomes available.