On-Site Sewage System
Management Plan Update Process
From November 2013 to July 2014, Thurston County Environmental Health worked with
the On-site Sewage System
Management Plan Advisory Committee to update the
2008 Thurston County On-site Sewage System Management Plan.
The proposed plan was reviewed by the Thurston County
Board of Health and was the subject of community
meetings on December 5 in Olympia, December 9 in
Rainier, and February 11 at the Griffin School.
The plan under consideration at the Public Hearing
has a few revisions from the version discussed at the
community meetings. As directed by the Board of Health,
the final plan calls for a tiered charge structure that
helps assure charges are commensurate with the services
provided. Since the plan update was drafted in 2014,
additional work has been done to inventory septic
systems and we now know there are approximately 53,000
septic systems in the county rather than the earlier
estimate of 70,000. And finally, the OSS Management Areas
was updated to reflect completion of the On-Site Sewage
Management in the Scatter Creek Aquifer
Project in 2014.
The Thurston County Board of Health adopted Resolution
H-3-2014 accepting the recommendations of the citizen
advisory committee. The resolution and recommendations
are included as Appendix C.
The Thurston County Board of
Health held a
public hearing to receive testimony on the
proposed Updated OSS Management Plan. The date, time and place of the
Tuesday, June 14th at
Thurston County Courthouse
2000 Lakeridge Drive SW
Building 1, Room 152
The final draft of the
plan is now complete and is available for review. A
fact sheet and FAQs are also available.
The Thurston County On-site Sewage System Management Plan was developed in response to
RCW 70.118A and WAC 246-272A-0015. These state laws required Thurston County to develop a written plan that specified how we would:
- Progressively develop and maintain an inventory of all known OSS in operation within Thurston County.
- Identify areas where OSS could pose an increased public health risk, or contribute to degraded water quality.
- Identify operation, maintenance and monitoring requirements commensurate with the risks posed by OSS within sensitive areas.
- Enforce OSS owner permit application, operation, monitoring, maintenance, and failure repair requirements.
- Develop a methodology for establishing Marine Recovery Areas (MRAs).
- Develop a database for keeping records associated with MRAs.
- Inventory all OSS in MRAs by 2012 and ensure all failing systems are serviced.
- Educate homeowners regarding their responsibilities for the operation and maintenance of their OSS.
- Remind and encourage homeowners to complete their operation and maintenance inspections.
In November 2006, an advisory committee was convened to develop recommendations for the Countyís on-site sewage system
management plan and the revision of Article IV of the Thurston County Sanitary Code (on-site sewage system regulations).
The committee met 10 times from November 2006 to September 2007. Their recommendations are the backbone of this plan.
The plan recommends:
- Henderson Inlet and Nisqually Reach be recognized as
Marine Recovery Areas (MRAs).
- Eld Inlet should be considered as MRA.
- Thurston County should evaluate other areas to
determine if they should be MRAs or sensitive areas.
- Thurston County on-site sewage system (OSS)
regulations should be amended to require
- OSS be evaluated before the property they serve is
transferred or sold, and that the inspection results be
submitted to the Health Department, preferably using the
electronic system described above
- Septic tank pumpers submit records for each OSS tank
that is pumped or serviced in Thurston County.
- A web-based system be developed to allow operations
and maintenance (O&M) records to be submitted
electronically, transferred to, and managed by AMANDA
(our records management database). This allows Health
Department staff to more efficiently meet the O&M
monitoring and management goals, and is a step toward
setting up a sytem to remind all OSS owners of their
systemís O&M needs.
- Advanced OSS monitoring and maintenance training (like
that offered to Henderson Inlet OSS owners) be available
for all Thurston County residents.
- A mechanism to fund current programs and those
envisioned by this plan be established.
- Performance management criteria and indicators be
developed and implemented to evaluate the effectiveness
of the programs in the plan.
Find more information
about the plan and its development.
Reasons for the Plan Update
Since 2008 many plan elements have been completed, and
new information is available that identify on-site
sewage system management issues that need to be
addressed. Updating the plan will help guide our program
and community actions for the coming years.
The plan amendments will help us:
- Educate and train OSS owners to monitor and maintain
their OSS to identify problems and failures;
- Identify areas in Thurston County where enhanced
monitoring and maintenance programs are warranted;
- Evaluate our current operation and maintenance (O&M)
plan and program, including reporting systems, homeowner
O&M practices, professional O&M services, compliance and
incentives to determine if they meet state and local
- Identify areas where enhanced OSS monitoring programs
are needed, incorporate changes that address the results
of our evaluation as well as the recommendations of
stakeholders and policy makers, and establish a strategy
to sustain our program in the future;
- Evaluate funding needs and options for the programs
envisioned by the plan.
An OSS management advisory committee whose members
represent a wide variety of interests related to on-site
sewage management was selected. The committee will
review the current OSS management plan and develop
recommendations that reflect recent scientific studies,
policy recommendations and program deficiencies. The
recommendations will be brought to the Thurston County
Board of Health for consideration. Advisory committee
meetings will begin in November and run through May
2014. A draft plan will be brought to the Board of
Health in late Spring or early Summer.
Meeting agendas and materials
are available on this website.
The meetings are open to the public and all interested
people are invited to attend.
If you have questions, comments or recommendations
about the plan or this process, please contact our
project coordinator or
send an email.