EPA National Estuary Program Pathogens Grant: Onsite Sewage System Management

The Department of Health is working with Puget Sound local health jurisdictions to help advance the onsite sewage system (OSS) target in the Puget Sound Action Agenda. Counties are using more than $5.3 million in National Estuary Program (NEP) funds to inventory, inspect and fix failing onsite sewage systems in Marine Recovery Areas (MRAs) and other areas sensitive to pathogen pollution.

Clallam ($678,808)

Clallam County located and inspected OSS in mobile home and RV parks in the county's MRA, mapped and installed risers to facilitate future inspections. They are improving their OSS data management system and conducting outreach to landowners through newsletters, radio ads, workshops and incentives. They developed a video to help OSS owners understand and maintain their systems which is being used by other Puget Sound jurisdictions.

Island ($201,437)

Island County is upgrading their outdated OSS database to increase their ability to track and manage OSS. The County sent notification letters to landowners explaining inspection requirements, and offering rebates and other financial and technical assistance and issued notification letters to landowners with failing systems to inform them of what they need to do to repair their systems and offering assistance to help them comply. They provide outreach through open houses, newsletters, and rebates for inspections, pumping and installation of risers.

Jefferson ($444,103)

Jefferson County sent inspection notifications to OSS owners and developed a mechanism to track inspection and repair status of OSS and inform landowners about actions needed to maintain their OSS. They developed a website which provides information for OSS owners about their systems and how to maintain them.

Kitsap ($599,983)

Kitsap County Health District updated their OSS data management system with system type, age and permit status. Kitsap's goal is to document more than 85% (48,000 of 56,000) of OSS in the County. They used funds to reduce pathogen pollution around Long Lake which drains into Yukon Harbor, offered inspection rebates and workshops to help property owners maintain their OSS.

Mason ($607,271)

Mason Health is communicating with OSS owners through targeted educational mailings, workshops, incentives and has inventoried most of the OSS in the County. They provided information and training to owners of large community systems to inform them of their maintenance and inspection responsibilities.

San Juan ($258,935)

San Juan Health Department enhanced OSS management in the county's seven declared sensitive areas. This includes sending Operation and Maintenance inspection reminders, initial warning letters and notices of violations when necessary to ensure that inspection are completed. The Health Department has also conducted OSS mapping and provided educational workshops and incentives for inspections, pumping, and risers.

Seattle-King County ($701,747)

Seattle-King County Health Department is identifying and documenting unknown OSS in the County and developing a data base inventory of OSS to enable better management. They developed a loan program to help landowners pay for OSS repairs and replacement on Vashon Island. They are exploring options for sustainable funding for OSS management.

Skagit ($517,125)

Skagit holds Septics 101 classes to educate residents about proper OSS operation and maintenance. Graduates receive a rebate voucher for risers which provide a visual reminder to encourage better OSS management. Skagit is pursuing sustainable funding, code revisions and an update of their OSS Management Plan.

Snohomish ($97,920)

Snohomish identified and evaluated OSS in the South Skagit Bay Shellfish Growing area, portions of the Possession Sound Shellfish Growing area and Port Susan. They developed and implemented program rules, regulations, policies and procedures to ensure review of operation and maintenance reports.

Tacoma-Pierce County ($707,218)

The Tacoma Pierce County Health Department enhanced the investigation, data management and operation of OSS within the Key Peninsula Marine Recovery Area. They conduct outreach, sanitary survey work and have provided incentives to encourage landowners to bring OSS into a three year inspection cycle. They developed a low interest loan program to help landowners pay for OSS repairs.

Thurston ($379,702)

Thurston Health is (1) Educating and training OSS owners so they can monitor and maintain their OSS and identify OSS problems and failures; (2) Updating the Thurston County On-site Sewage System Management Plan to account for findings from recent scientific studies and policy recommendations; and, (3) Identifying areas in Thurston County where enhanced monitoring and maintenance programs are needed to help assure that all OSS are properly monitored and maintained and failing OSS are identified and repaired. They have been active participants in developing options for sustainable funding for OSS programs in Puget Sound.

Whatcom ($120,580)

Whatcom County has evaluated 841 OSS in Drayton Harbor, and designated Marine Recovery Area and identified and worked with landowners to repair failing systems.