Environmental Health
Septic Systems
  Operational Certificates  
  Renewing the Certificate  l  What If I Don't Renew My Certificate?  

Thurston County regulations require an Operational Certificate, issued by Thurston County Health Department, for certain types of septic (on-site sewage) systems. The goal of the Operational Certificate is to assure that septic systems are properly operated and maintained. Properly monitored and maintained systems have longer operating lives and less impact on our water resources. The Certificate lists the required conditions for monitoring and maintaining your sewage system (check your Certificate for specific requirements that apply to your system).

What Do I Need to Renew the Certificate?

Prior to your renewal date, you will receive a Septic System Operational Certificate Renewal packet, which includes:

  • Renewal fee invoice
  • Coupon for pumping
  • Consumer tips guide

Septic System Inspection

Your septic system must be inspected by a certified septic system professional. For additional information go to Septic System Professionals or contact our office at (360) 867-2626  The inspection should include the following:

  1. Inspect the septic tank and have it pumped or repaired, as necessary. If the scum and/or sludge levels indicate, the tank should be pumped (see Septic Inspection & Pumping Guide [PDF]). NOTE: If you are unsure of where your septic tank or drainfield is located, see Locate Your Drainfield.
  2. Inspect the drainfield area. Look for signs of failure, note any wet spots, seeps (algae and drainage on banks or slopes), or areas where water is surfacing.
  3. Inspect other system components such as pump, distribution box, and monitoring ports. Look for indications that the pump system is malfunctioning, such as sewage backing up in the house, high liquid levels in the septic tank, or surfacing sewage over/near the pump chamber.

What does a septic system operational certificate look like?

Follow the links below to view sample operational certificates for a gravity system, a mound system, an Glendon system, or a sand filter system. Most important are the maintenance requirements listed on page(s) 2 - 3. Page 1 includes the legal site and owner information, a renewal and an expiration date, as well as pertinent system information. On the last page of the certificates is a list of Best Practices for septic system owners.

Owner-Inspector Certification

Property Owners who wish to inspect their own septic system must apply and demonstrate qualifications to inspect their system.  Only gravity, pressure distribution, mound and Glendon septic systems qualify for owner-inspection certification.  Septic systems that have a sand filter, aerobic treatment unit or require a contract with a Monitoring Specialist do not qualify for owner-inspection certification. Please read the following documents thoroughly before applying.

  1. Policy for Owner Certification to Self-Inspect On-site Sewage Systems;[PDF] and,
  2. Application for Septic System Owner-Inspector Certification.  [PDF]  (This is a fill-in document which can be saved with Adobe Reader 8 or newer version.)

What If I Don't Renew My Certificate?

If you fail to renew your Certificate, your sewage system will be classified as non-conforming. This means other permit approvals can be withheld until the Certificate is renewed.

The certification renewal process for non-conforming systems requires an inspection of the system by an employee of Environmental Health after additional fees are paid (see Guidelines for process and fee). Please complete the Operational Certificate Field Inspection form to initiate the inspection process.

By keeping your Certificate renewed on a timely basis, you can avoid the additional renewal fees and untimely delays during future building projects or property sales.

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This page last updated: 09/28/15