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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Jane Mountjoy-Venning, Thurston County Environmental Health Division, (360) 867-2643 or venninj@co.thurston.wa.us
Art Starry, Thurston County Environmental Health Division at (360) 867-2587 or StarryA@co.thurston.wa.us

Septic Management Plan Updates affect Septic Owners Countywide
Public invited to learn about proposed changes and provide input

OLYMPIA - Thurston County is seeking comments on proposed changes to the county's On-Site Sewage System Management Plan. Septic system owners and other residents are invited to learn about the plan and provide feedback at one of two Septic Plan Open Houses which will be held:

Saturday, December 5 from 9:30 to 11 a.m.
Thurston County Public Health and Social Services
412 Lilly Road NE, Olympia

Wednesday, December 9 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Rainier Sportsman's Club
404 Alaska St., Rainier

For those unable to attend, the plan is available online at: www.co.thurston.wa.us/health/ehomp. Comments can be provided through December 15 at www.surveymonkey.com/r/SepticPlanFeedback, by e-mail to venninj@co.thurston.wa.us, or by calling (360) 867-2643.

The changes were recommended unanimously by an advisory committee who met over eight months to learn about local septic management issues. Their recommendations are designed to protect Thurston County's water resources and public health, now and for the future. The committee believes that the proposed changes satisfy requirements of state law, are reasonable, and meet public health goals and the needs of Thurston County citizens.

Proposed changes include developing a stable, equitable, and self-sustaining funding mechanism that adequately supports the septic operation and maintenance program. Current funding for the program relies on charges to properties within shellfish protection districts and fees for operational permits, time of transfer reports, and pumping and inspection reports. To accomplish this goal, the committee recommends a single charge to all septic system owners that would replace existing fees and charges. The proposed charge would be collected via county property tax statement, and be reduced by 50 percent for those in the senior/disabled tax exemption program. Two proposals for how to structure the charges have been developed:

A flat fee of $45 charged to all septic system owners; or
A tiered fee ranging from $22 to $66, depending on the location of the septic system, and documented water quality problems in the area.

Key points made in the plan include:
  • Septic system maintenance and operation is the responsibility of the owner.
  • Problems with septic maintenance and operation, especially failing systems, affect people and resources beyond the owner and their property.
  • Information needs to be available to all septic system owners so they can know what they need to monitor and maintain their system.
  • The county health department has responsibility to be sure there is a system to find and repair failing septic systems and ensure that all septic systems are routinely inspected, function properly and are repaired as needed.
  • The updated plan addresses concerns the committee had about the current system:

    Current system tends to punish the responsible and lets the irresponsible or uninformed slide.

    Current system has unequal and unreliable access to education and other services.

For more information about updates to the On-site Sewage Management Plan, please contact Jane Mountjoy-Venning, via e-mail at venninj@co.thurston.wa.us or call (360) 867-2643. If you have general septic questions, please call the Septic Help Line at (360) 867-2669.



County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3