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Proposed ‘human waste bill’ seeks to regulate urban RVs and campers

RVs parked along the street in Seattle. (AP)

Human discharges from urban campers may soon require a permit.

Democratic State Sen. Tim Sheldon wants to require operators of RVs and campers that people are living in to have to secure discharge permits from the state Department of Ecology.

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“People could say that I’m picking on the homeless — that’s not the issue here … urban campers ought to be regulated just like anyone else,” he said. “You can’t go to a camping spot in a state park and poop on the ground. Let’s get real on this and start enforcing laws that are already on the books and they should apply to everyone.”

The bill he introduced in the Legislature this week would apply only to cities that have shoreline on Puget Sound, meant as a way to protect water quality. The Potlatch lawmaker says requiring permits would allow regulators to determine if the camper discharges comply with state laws, or if they need to move.

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If passed, it would regulate curbside campers as “point-source dischargers,” just like factories and sewage treatment plants.

“All of us in Olympia are concerned with the cleanliness of our waters and the important health benefits of good sanitation,” Sheldon said. “All I can say is that if my shellfish farm on Hood Canal looked anything like the mess I see on the streets of Seattle, the Department of Ecology would be on me in a New York minute.”

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