Environmental Health
Surface Water (Lakes, Rivers & Streams)
Nisqually Reach Septic System O&M Program
  Nisqually Reach Watershed

Septic System Operation & Maintenance Program
Program Began January 1, 2013


 For answers to basic program questions ...click here.

Program Summary

The purpose of the program is to assure that on-site sewage systems are properly operated and maintained to protect the health of county residents and to preserve the water quality of Nisqually Reach.

This program is modeled after the successful program that was started in Henderson Inlet in 2007. The program includes septic system inspection and monitoring requirements, incentives, funding mechanisms and enforcement elements. The program was developed by a citizen advisory group and was adopted by the Thurston County Board of Health and Board of County Commissioners in 2012. Information on the public process that led to the program is available here.

Additional background information on the Nisqually Reach Shellfish Protection District...click here.

Homeowner Septic Inspection Certification

Septic owners of Gravity, Mound, Pressure Distribution, and Glendon systems can become certified to inspect their own systems. For dates, times, or to sign up, see Septic System Inspection Certification.

Request Correction of Rates and Charges

A property owner can request a review if they believe their property is not in the Nisqually Reach Watershed Protection Area, or that the fees or requirements have been applied to their property in error. The following elements can be considered in the Request for Review.

  • the property is served by a septic system
  • the property drains toward Nisqually Reach
  • the location of any portion of your plumbing and/or septic system is within the Nisqually Reach Watershed Protection Area
  • the septic system is a high-risk or low-risk system

Applications for review must be submitted to Environmental Health on a Request for Correction of Rates & Charges form [PDF]

When will I receive my inspection notice?

There are nearly 4,000 septic systems in the Nisqually Reach Watershed Protection Area, and the new program will be phased in over three years. Homeowners will receive a notice that includes the requirements for their operational certificate approximately 8 weeks before the inspection is due.

Septic System Financial Assistance

Low-interest loans and grants are available to help homeowners maintain existing systems and repair failing ones. ...more

Dye Test Evaluations for "High-Risk" Systems

A dye test is used to help determine if a septic system is failing. Dye tests are especially useful for locating seepage failures on properties located on or near the shoreline. This method involves flushing a non-toxic tracer dye down a toilet and placing charcoal packets downhill of the septic system to collect any dye that may be leaking (with the sewage) from the system.


Washington State Department of Health Reports

Washington State Department of Ecology Reports

Thurston County Reports

E-mail contact

Please feel free to e-mail with questions or requests for additional information.

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This page last updated: 05/10/21