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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, October 24, 2005
Art Starry, Environmental Health Division Director, 360-786-5456
Linda Hofstad, Environmental Health Specialist, 360-754-4111

Public Invited to Comment on a Proposed Septic System Program for Henderson Watershed Protection Area

OLYMPIA – Thurston County Commissioners, also acting as the county Board of Health, will receive testimony at a public hearing the evening of October 27th regarding rule changes for a proposed septic system operations and maintenance program. Amendments to the County Sanitary Code and the Henderson Shellfish Protection District ordinance would enable adoption of the septic program, which would affect a portion of the Henderson Inlet watershed. The program is part of a larger effort to recover water quality in the inlet for protection of the public health and welfare, as well as reopen shellfish harvesting areas that have been closed due to pollution. 

Thurston County Environmental Health Division Director Art Starry says that adopting the rule changes focuses on one source of pollution to the inlet.  "Studies have shown that a significant source of pollution to the inlet is human waste from failing septic systems.  A citizens' advisory committee working on this issue has proposed an operations and maintenance program (O and M) for septic systems in this part of the Henderson watershed. These rule changes would allow for adoption of the program."  The purpose of the program is to ensure that 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 amendments to the Sanitary Code would create a Henderson Watershed Protection Area where enhanced operation and maintenance requirements would be in effect.  Amendments to the Henderson Shellfish Protection District would allow for rates and charges to be assessed on the annual property tax statement in order to fund the program.

The rates for 2007 would be $32 for low-risk systems, $87 for high-risk, and $160 for community systems.

The enhanced requirements would be that all septic systems within the program area have renewable operational certificates. These certificates would need to be kept current and renewal of certificates would include routine system evaluations.  The program would divide septic systems into "low" and "high" risk categories, depending on various factors such as soil type and proximity to surface water. Both low-risk and high-risk systems within the watershed would be required to have current operational certificates, but the frequency and type of inspections would differ.                        

Those who cannot attend the hearing can send written comment to the Thurston County Commissioners/ Board of Health . To find out more about the program, visit the Thurston County Web Site at http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/shellfish/ where an e-mail message can be sent if desired. For additional information call 360-754-4111.               

 The Thurston County Commissioners/ Board of Health Public Hearing will be held Thursday, October 27th, beginning at 6:00 p.m. to receive public testimony regarding amendments to the Thurston County Sanitary Code and the Henderson Shellfish Protection District ordinance.  The hearing 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