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Welcome » Environmental Health/Water Quality » Septic Systems » Operation & Monitoring (O&M)

Operations & Monitoring

We all recognize the need to protect valuable surface waters, diminishing ground water supplies and share the desire to prevent costly premature failures of onsite sewage systems. Jefferson County has had a monitoring program since 1987.

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Frequently Asked Questions about the Septic Monitoring Program Revisions

Homeowner Authorization for Monitoring Inspections

A short history of septic system monitoring in Jefferson County:

  • 1987 - 2000 only "alternative" systems (other than "conventional" gravity fed) required a monitoring agreement.
  • 1995 Washington State Code was revised to require monitoring of all onsite sewage systems.
  • 2000 Jefferson County adopted revisions to our local code to comply with the 1995 State requirement.
  • 2007 - The State Board of Health adopted revisions to the onsite sewage code. This revision requires that an owner of a "conventional" gravity system without a pump must have it properly inspected at least once every three years. All systems that include a pump must be inspected every year.
  • 2012 - Jefferson County Board of Health relaxed regulations to allow authorized homeowners to complete most required septic system monitoring inspections.  A goal of the program is to provide information about septic system operations, maintenance and inspections as well as making it easier to complete the monitoring inspections at a more reasonable cost.

If a system is not monitored and maintained properly, the chances of pre-mature failure increases. The costs involved with repairing a modern day onsite sewage system can run into the thousands of dollars very quickly. System failure could be to a point beyond repair resulting in the need for a new onsite sewage system to be installed. 

Currently Jefferson County Code requires that periodic inspections be completed by a Certified Operations and Monitoring Specialist or a Licensed Designer.  

 See Jefferson County Code, 8.15.150 Operation, Maintenance and Monitoring.

Septic System Monitoring Workgroup

Jefferson County Public Health hosted a series of public work group meetings to develop recommended revisions to the existing septic system monitoring program. The  recommendations include two major improvements to the existing program:

     1. They provide septic system operation and maintenance education for any interested
         person at no additional cost.
     2. They enable homeowners, who complete training courses and receive authorization to
         conduct some of the required monitoring inspections instead of requiring a Certified
         Operation & Monitoring Specialist  or Licensed Designer for all inspections.  

The Work Group meetings were open to the public and a comment period was available at each meeting.

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Jefferson County Jefferson County Public Health
615 Sheridan Street - Port Townsend, WA 98368
Community Health: 360.385.9400 | Environmental Health: 360.385.9444