Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Septic System Management Plan Invests in Clean Water, Safe Food and a Healthier Environment

 Thurston County is working to update the On-site Sewage System Management Plan. The plan, if adopted, puts systems in place to help septic owners better protect their investment and extend the life of their septic system while protecting public health.

You can read the full plan on our website, here we’ll describe a few highlights.

  • Regular inspections help find problems while they are still small. The septic management plan calls for routine mailings to all septic owners, reminding them when it is time for an inspection. 
  • Leaking sewage is a health risk. Sewage from even one failing septic system can close a beach, cause illness, or contaminate a drinking water well. The plan provides resources to prevent, identify, and correct failing septic systems and water pollution problems caused by sewage.
  • The septic plan invests in education such as the septic help line, workshops, and more so that everyone can have reliable information to maintain their septic system. It also provides septic owners help to trouble-shoot their system and programs for financial assistance to help fix failing systems.
  • A well-maintained septic system can contribute to a higher re-sell value on your home. A new septic system can cost more than $15,000. Regular maintenance and documentation let purchasers know the system is functioning properly and a good investment. The plan provides resources to create and maintain a septic inventory with easily accessible online records.
  • Keeping our drinking water clean for the future is important. Drinking water in your well travels under your neighbor’s property. Your neighbor’s actions or inactions can impact your drinking water. The plan provides resources to investigate problems and makes sure failing systems are repaired. Proven methods are used to assure only failing systems are repaired.

The plan replaces current fees
The new plan, known to some as the “crap tax,” has a tiered fee structure based on the location of a septic system. The charge will replace many septic system related fees like the ones for operational certificates, pump reports, and time-of-transfer (when a home is sold). The charges will invest in clean water, safe food and a healthier environment by supporting the Health Department’s responsibility to protect public health from diseases caused by sewage.

The estimated charges are as follows. The recommendation includes reducing the charges by 50% for those enrolled in the Assessor’s senior/disabled/disabled veteran tax exemption program.  
·         $22/year for septic systems in the Chehalis River watershed.
·         $44/year for septic systems in the Puget Sound basin, but not a designated special area.
·         $66/year for septic systems in a Marine Recovery Area or other designated special area.

Want to learn more about the plan?
The plan, as well as slides presented at open houses and more are available on our website. Representatives from Thurston County Public Health are available to attend and present information about the On-Site Septic Management Plan to community groups. To schedule a presentation, contact Jane Mountjoy-Venning at (360) 867-2643.
What is Next?
Currently, the Thurston County Board of Health is deliberating on the plan and will make a decision at an open public meeting (date to be determined).

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