County Health Department On
Site Sewage Program Information
NEWS Financial assistance with the Clean Water Loan
Worried about the cost to repair or replace your failing septic system? Skagit County and nonprofit lender Craft3 work together to offer homeowners affordable septic system financing with the Clean Water Loan. In many cases, the Clean Water Loan can also be used to connect to municipal sewer. The loan:
Covers the full cost of designing, permitting, and installing a septic system.
Has competitive interest rates and no upfront costs.
Works for many property types and incomes.
Offers deferred payment options to homeowners with lower incomes.
Septic systems treat sewage on the property where it is generated. Over 18,000 septic systems in Skagit County clean and recycle sewage contaminated water into clean groundwater every day in Skagit County. On-site sewage treatment can work as well or better than large wastewater treatment plants with proper design, installation, and maintenance.
Your septic system is a valuable investment. Just like your home or car, your septic system needs regular attention and maintenance to function for many years to come. Regular maintenance starts with inspections! Inspections can help identify and repair small problems before they become large issues that can cause illness, pollute water, and compound into larger more expensive repairs or a system failure. Timely inspections and active management of your septic system can keep it operational for much longer than with system abuse or neglect.
How often does my system need to be inspected?
In order to assure that your system is functioning, Washington State Code (WAC 246-272A-0270) requires that your septic system be inspected at least every year by a qualified inspector OR at least every three years for simple gravity systems.
Who can inspect a septic system?
Septic systems must be inspected by certified Operations and Maintenance Specialists, see “System Maintenance Providers” on the right. Under certain conditions, homeowners may become certified to inspect their own gravity septic system through our Septics Education Program.
How will the County know my system has been inspected?
Inspectors complete an inspection form, upload that information to a database, and the information is provided to the Health Department. Basic information from the inspection is available on line through the county's records search webpage: Septic Search
My septic tank was pumped. Is that an inspection?
No. Your septic inspection should always determine if you need to pump. A general recommendation is to pump when your septic tank is 1/3 full of solid materials. Don’t waste money by pumping unnecessarily!
Are there special requirements if my system has a special treatment system?
Yes, these systems require ANNUAL inspections. They require a maintenance contract with a certified Operations & Maintenance Specialist. This information must be recorded on your property title so that future property owners become aware of this contract (Sample Title Notice).
What if my septic system fails the inspection?
Your inspection may show that the system needs maintenance, repair, or that the tank is due to be pumped. Sometimes a simple repair can fix a small problem now that might turn into a large problem (expensive!) later. The inspection may also show that your system is failing. In the case of a failure you need to take action to prevent pollution and comply with code. You will need to contact a septic system designer or installer to repair or replace the failing system which requires a permit.
[Current designer/installer lists]
Is there financial assistance for repairs to failing septic systems?
If you have a septic system failure (drainfield, septic tank, or other components) you may qualify for a low interest loan. To qualify all you need to have are two things: adequate credit and a failing septic system. Learn more and apply at www.Craft3.org/CleanWater
Skagit County Public Health Department offers free classes for homeowners to learn how septic systems work to clean waste water and how to help your system function well without polluting. Septics 101 is a 40 minute online course and Septics 201 is a 2 hour Field Class for homeowners to learn how to inspect their own gravity septic system. You must take the online Septics 101 in order to register for Septics 201. Learn more at our Septics Education Page.
Washington State code and Skagit County Code require that all septic systems go through site evaluation, design review, approval, and permitting prior to installation. After the system is installed, a final inspection is done by County staff.
On-site permit application process
If you plan to install a new septic system or repair an existing system you need a permit. Permits are issued by Skagit County Public Health Department through the Skagit County Planning and Development Services Center located at 1800 Continental Place, Mount Vernon.
Current septic system regulations require greywater to be treated just like it is sewage, even when it comes from a trailer or camper. Greywater can carry bacteria, viruses, pathogenic organisms and chemicals depending on what’s connected to the greywater pipe.
Marine Recovery Area is defined in law as an area where additional requirements for existing on-site sewage disposal systems may be necessary to reduce potential failing systems or minimize negative impacts on water quality. Environmental Public Health is focusing on all Marine Recovery Areas (MRA) to make sure on-site sewage systems are not contributing to pollution in Puget Sound.
On September 16, 2008 the Skagit County Board of Commissioners signed Ordinance #020080011 Sensitive Areas as outlined in the Skagit County On-Site Sewage Management Plan. This was further revised in May 2012, adding the Upper NE Samish and Willard Creek MRAs so all on-site sewage systems in the Samish Watershed are included.
The Clean Samish Initiative is a multi-agency effort focused on the Samish Basin dealing with multiple potential sources of pollution, including septic systems. You can learn more about pollution prevention at poopsmart.org