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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, December 3, 2007
Art Starry, Environmental Health Director, 360-786-5456

Citizens Invited to Review Draft On-site Sewage System Management Plan

OLYMPIA – A public meeting will be held December 13th to allow Thurston County residents a chance to review revisions to regulations for the county's management plan for governing on-site sewage systems.  Environmental Health Director Art Starry says the state has required local governments to make the changes.  "In 2005, the State Board of Health adopted new regulations for on-site sewage systems (OSS).  The regulations require each local health department to set up a Management Plan for sewage systems within their jurisdictions.  The plan is to identify sensitive areas where on-site sewage systems could have an impact on public health and define any special permit or management strategies needed to address them."  The rule establishes two levels of planning, one for the 12 counties bordering Puget Sound including Thurston, and one for all other counties.

Legislation passed in 2006 (RCW 70.118A) requires that the Health Officer designate Marine Recovery Areas (MRAs) in areas when it is determined that on-site sewage systems adversely affect marine water quality because of low-dissolved oxygen levels,  fecal coliform pollution, or where nitrogen has been identified as a contaminant of concern. The MRA strategy must specify how, by July of 2012, the local health department will:

  • Find existing failing systems and ensure that system owners make necessary repairs
  • Find unknown systems and ensure that they are inspected and functioning properly, and repaired if necessary.

The Thurston County Management Plan identifies areas that will be evaluated further to determine if they should be designated as sensitive areas or MRAs.

In November 2006 Thurston County Public Health convened an advisory committee to develop recommendations for the county's on-site sewage system management plan and the revision of appropriate regulations. The committee met 10 times from November 2006 to September 2007 and provided recommendations that are the backbone of this plan.

Starry says a variety of recommendations have come out of the planning including-

  • Changes to the county's on-site sewage system regulations
  • Enhancement of related information databases
  • Identification of Sensitive Areas and Marine Recovery Areas
  • Education and Training
  • Plans for funding of the necessary work
  • Measurement of progress toward goals

Once approved by the Thurston County Board of Health, the plan will guide activities in the On-site sewage system program for the coming years.

Starry says while the plan needs to satisfy the requirements of state law, it should also meet the needs of the citizens of Thurston County . "The programs and proposals need to make sense and be reasonable to the public and meet the public health goals at the same time.  That's why it's important for us to meet with the public on the 13th."

The meeting regarding On-site Sewage System regulations will be held on Thursday, December 13th in Room 280 of the Thurston County Courthouse, 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW in Olympia.  The doors will open at 6:30, and a staff presentation will be conducted at 7:00.  Those wishing more information can call Art Starry at 360-786-5456.  Or visit the county web site at www.co.thurston.wa.us and look at the Thurston County On-site Management pages.

County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3