Presentation Abstract

Septic systems are personal wastewater treatment systems for rural properties. Over 3,000 septic systems exist in the Drayton Harbor watershed. Septic systems that are not maintained properly can create problems for homeowners, negatively impact water quality, and pose a public health threat. Whatcom County Health Department (WCHD) began implementing a septic system operation and maintenance (O&M) program in 2008 in the Drayton Harbor watershed when most of Drayton Harbor was classified as Prohibited for shellfish harvesting due to elevated fecal coliform bacteria levels. The local health officer’s designation of Drayton Harbor as a Marine Recovery Area in 2008 allowed WCHD to enforce mandatory septic system evaluations. Septic evaluations keep systems functioning properly and identify systems that are failing and need replacement. Over 9 years, more than 6,300 OSS evaluations have been performed. A total of 97 failing systems were found and repaired. Septic system improvements combined with other multi-agency efforts to find and fix other bacteria pollution sources led to water quality improvements and reclassification of shellfish beds in Drayton Harbor. WCHD's O&M program is fully fee funded and is adequately staffed. Predictable and sustained funding supports strategic program development so that all septic systems in Whatcom County become routinely evaluated. WCHD staff administer O&M requirements throughout the county, educate homeowners through workshops, provide on-site technical assistance, audit inspection reports, perform complaint investigations and sanitary surveys, and soon will initiate an on-line system status reporting platform.

Session Title

Drayton Harbor Shellfish Recovery: A Case Study of Local Collaboration

Keywords

Drayton Harbor, Water quality, Septic systems, Shellfish

Conference Track

SSE2: Collaboration and Engagement

Conference Name

Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference (Seattle, WA : 2018)

Document Type

Event

SSEC Identifier

SSE2-540

Start Date

6-4-2018 9:15 AM

End Date

6-4-2018 9:30 AM

Type of Presentation

Oral

Contributing Repository

Digital content made available by University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Geographic Coverage

Salish Sea (B.C. and Wash.)

Rights

This resource is displayed for educational purposes only and may be subject to U.S. and international copyright laws. For more information about rights or obtaining copies of this resource, please contact University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9103, USA (360-650-7534; heritage.resources@wwu.edu) and refer to the collection name and identifier. Any materials cited must be attributed to the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference Records, University Archives, Heritage Resources, Western Libraries, Western Washington University.

Type

text

Language

English

Format

application/pdf

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Apr 6th, 9:15 AM Apr 6th, 9:30 AM

Impact of septic systems in Drayton Harbor water quality

Septic systems are personal wastewater treatment systems for rural properties. Over 3,000 septic systems exist in the Drayton Harbor watershed. Septic systems that are not maintained properly can create problems for homeowners, negatively impact water quality, and pose a public health threat. Whatcom County Health Department (WCHD) began implementing a septic system operation and maintenance (O&M) program in 2008 in the Drayton Harbor watershed when most of Drayton Harbor was classified as Prohibited for shellfish harvesting due to elevated fecal coliform bacteria levels. The local health officer’s designation of Drayton Harbor as a Marine Recovery Area in 2008 allowed WCHD to enforce mandatory septic system evaluations. Septic evaluations keep systems functioning properly and identify systems that are failing and need replacement. Over 9 years, more than 6,300 OSS evaluations have been performed. A total of 97 failing systems were found and repaired. Septic system improvements combined with other multi-agency efforts to find and fix other bacteria pollution sources led to water quality improvements and reclassification of shellfish beds in Drayton Harbor. WCHD's O&M program is fully fee funded and is adequately staffed. Predictable and sustained funding supports strategic program development so that all septic systems in Whatcom County become routinely evaluated. WCHD staff administer O&M requirements throughout the county, educate homeowners through workshops, provide on-site technical assistance, audit inspection reports, perform complaint investigations and sanitary surveys, and soon will initiate an on-line system status reporting platform.