Politics & Government

This plan could help keep poop out of Puget Sound

Olympian file: Carrying two seashells, Gregg Reynolds and Tolly do a quick beach comb below the Reynolds home on Henderson Inlet in 2008. The Thurston County Commission approved an ordinance to re-enact rates and charges to continue funding the Henderson Inlet Shellfish Protection District’s on-site sewage system work plan on Tuesday.
Olympian file: Carrying two seashells, Gregg Reynolds and Tolly do a quick beach comb below the Reynolds home on Henderson Inlet in 2008. The Thurston County Commission approved an ordinance to re-enact rates and charges to continue funding the Henderson Inlet Shellfish Protection District’s on-site sewage system work plan on Tuesday. sbloom@theolympian.com

The Thurston County Commissioners has unanimously approved an ordinance to re-enact rates and charges to continue funding the Henderson Inlet Shellfish Protection District’s on-site sewage system work plan.

The program was set to expire Dec. 31. The new ordinance will add a $10 annual charge for each additional residential septic system on a property, and adjusts rates for larger non-residential systems. After the increase, most property owners will pay $40, although some will have increases of $100 or more, officials say.

About 6,700 septic systems are affected by the ordinance.

“We are very happy with the success of this program since its creation in 2007,” commission chair Bud Blake said. “We want the water quality to continue to improve in Henderson Inlet to better the environment and also allow for the Department of Health to open more acres of shoreline for shellfish harvesting. It’s a great return on investment for our residents.”

The program will include additional water-quality testing in an attempt to identify sources contributing to fecal coliform contamination in the Henderson Inlet Shellfish Protection District, county officials say.

From 1984 to 2005, the state Department of Health restricted shellfish harvesting on 657 acres in Henderson Inlet because of water contamination from fecal coliform bacteria.

Under state law, each one of the 12 Puget Sound counties need to have a plan in place to monitor septic systems and repair those that fail. Thurston County passed one in 2008, and has been updating it for the past two years.

The 2016 county commission passed an updated countywide plan with a $10 flat fee for all property owners with septic systems. However, the 2017 commission, with two new members, repealed that fee.

“They are continuing to study the countywide on-site sewage plan,” said county spokeswoman Meghan Porter. “This is only for the Henderson Shellfish District.”

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433, @Lisa_Pemberton

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