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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, April 14, 2017
Art Starry, Environmental Health Division Director, (360) 867-2587 or starrya@co.thurston.wa.us

Septic-System Fee Repealed
Board of Heath unanimously adopts Ordinance H-2-2017, fee repeal

OLYMPIA -On Tuesday, the Thurston County Board of Health voted unanimously to adopt Ordinance H-2-2017, repealing a $10 septic system charge scheduled to go into effect in 2018. The intention of the $10 charge was to pay for activities in an associated Ordinance (H-3-2016).

The Board heard testimony from 27 people, more than 50 attended the meeting. Sixteen people were in favor of the ordinance to repeal the fee. They shared concerns that the fee was not necessary, it represented an over-reach by County government, and feared that the charge would be increased over time. Eleven spoke against the ordinance to repeal the fee, indicating concerns for the impacts of leaking septic systems on public health, water quality, and the environment.

"We want to ensure that we are making the best decision for the citizens of Thurston County," said Board of Health Chair, Bud Blake, "and we just didn't think charging the citizens $10 was the best decision." He said, "We will also be reviewing and re-evaluating the Thurston County On-site Sewage System Management Plan in the coming months to determine whether it should be retained, modified, or repealed."

Art Starry, Director of Environmental Health said, "We heard some testimony criticizing the way we determined septic system failure rates. They felt there were better ways we could calculate that number." He said, "We made background information available on past studies and what we mean when we use the terms 'failure' and 'failure rate'."

Past shoreline surveys have shown failure rates ranging from 14 to 29%. A recent survey in Eld Inlet found 17 of 102, or 17% of the systems to be failing. As a comparison, about 200 septic system repair permits are issued each year in Thurston County. That's less than 1% of the 53,000 systems in the county.

For more information about the Thurston County On-Site Sewage System Management Plan, visit the OSS Management Plan Update website.


County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3