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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Art Starry, Environmental Health Division Director, 360-867-2587
Susan Davis, Environmental Health Supervisor, 360-867-2643

Public Encouraged to Attend Septic System Practices Open House

OLYMPIA - A proposed septic system operations and maintenance plan will be the focus of a special open house to be held the evening of January 25th. The plan, which would affect the Nisqually Reach watershed, is part of an on-going effort to preserve public health and protect water quality in the reach. It is also intended to maintain shellfish harvesting areas that have been periodically closed due to pollution.

Thurston County Environmental Health Division Director Art Starry says the proposal is aimed at eliminating one source of pollution in the reach. "Studies have shown that some of the pollution comes from what we call non-point sources; that is unknown points of origin. But work has also demonstrated that human waste from failing septic systems is a contributing factor. As part of rectifying that known pollution problem, the citizen's advisory committee working on this issue is recommending an operations and maintenance program (O and M) for septic systems in the Nisqually Reach watershed." The purpose of the program is to ensure that on-site systems are being properly maintained to prevent premature failures, and to regularly evaluate those systems at highest risk of contaminating surface water so that problems can be promptly identified and corrected.

The O and M program would be divided into "low" and "high" risk systems, depending on various factors. Both low-risk and high-risk systems would be required to have current operational certificates, but the frequency and type of inspections would differ.

A pilot septic systems operations and maintenance program has been underway in the Henderson Watershed Protection Area since January 2007. Nearly 2,000 watershed residents have been certified to do their own septic system inspections. Water quality in Henderson Inlet has improved significantly; shellfish growing areas whose harvest has been restricted due to bacterial pollution since the early 1970s have been opened.

Environmental Health Specialist Linda Hofstad says it's important for county residents to speak out on this proposal and about the overall Nisqually Reach water quality program. "We are especially interested in hearing from those who live in the watershed area. They would be directly affected by the proposal so it's important that they attend the open house if they can, or otherwise give us their opinion."Those who cannot attend the open house can find out more about the septic plan by visiting the Thurston County web site at http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/health/ehrp/nisqually.htmlwhere they can also leave an e-mail message if they desire. They can also call 360-867-2626 for additional information. Residents of the watershed were mailed an informational brochure on the subject last summer.

The Nisqually Reach Septic Proposal Open House will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 the evening of Tuesday, January 25th. It will take place in the Expo Center at the Thurston County Fairgrounds, 3054 Carpenter Road SE, Lacey.



County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3