Board of Health considers septic fee

PORT ANGELES — The Clallam County Board of Health is considering a proposal that would charge septic tank owners a $13-per-year fee to support the county’s on-site septic system management program, a program that has been historically grant funded.

Clallam County Environmental Health is tasked with requiring regular septic inspection, ensuring known septic failures are fixed and maintaining accurate records for all septic systems, but the department has not had sustainable funding to make that happen, officials said Tuesday.

The fee would bring in about $260,000 in revenue each year.

On Tuesday the Board of Health unanimously agreed to move the ordinance forward, setting a public hearing on the proposed ordinance for 1:30 p.m. July 16.

The board is expected to take action following the public hearing.

The county adopted its on-site septic system management plan in 2007 to address those requirements, but it has never fully funded implementation.

The board is considering eliminating the $159 septic contract plan review fee and system status report review fees. Those cuts would be a combined $34,000.

Over the last 13 years the program has operated on an average of $176,000 in grant funding per year.

The fee would cover costs of outreach, training, testing and 2.5 staff positions.

“When this draft fee schedule was put together, it was reviewed comprehensively, and not only does it contemplate adding the fee, but also removing fees that would no longer be necessary or appropriate,” said County Commissioner Mark Ozias. “In my mind that underscores this is a responsible proposal.”

The Board of Health, which includes the three county commissioners, is the body that has the final say on the ordinance.

The Board of County Commissioners is not expected to take action.

If approved, the fee schedule changes would take effect in 2021 and Environmental Health would use current grant funding — about $300,000 — to refine the on-site septic management program and prepare for a transition to stable, local funding, officials said.

There are about 20,000 septic systems in Clallam County and since 2007 about 700 of those systems have failed.

Of those, 600 septic systems have been repaired.

Only about 25 percent of septic system owners are in compliance with inspection requirements, according to the county.

“Often, significant county staff time and effort are necessary to take repairs happen,” according to a county report. “Failing septic systems threaten public heath and pollute the environment — this is underscored by bacterial pollution reaching Dungeness Bay that has forced shellfish growing area closures over the past decades.”

Chief Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney David Alvarez told the Board of Health that the county is required to enforce septic regulations and that if the board didn’t, grant funding would dry up and the county could be open to lawsuits.

“There would be some political embarrassment for the [Board of County Commissioners] and the local health officer once word got out about non enforcement,” Alvarez said.

“The county would be the wild, wild west and nobody would have any incentive to get their periodic evaluation or inspection done.”


Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected]

More in News

Bret Allen Kenney was in court on Friday.
$5 million bail set in officer assault

Man also a person of interest in homicide of his mother

Candidate filing week ends with list of hopefuls

Three contests to be on primary ballot

Housing, fish passage topics at county meetings

Government entities gather on North Olympic Peninsula

Clallam Farm Family of the Year nominations sought

The Clallam County Fair invites the public to submit… Continue reading

Brian King, left, and Marc Titterness.
Candidates for sheriff debate during forum

Wraparound services, staffing among issues discussed

Dick Richardson, volunteer coordinator of the U.S. Light House Society, shows off the 1880’s French made fresnel lens at the top of the Point Wilson Light at Fort Worden State Park. The society is the caretaker of the lighthouse, under a license from the U.S. Coast Guard. Public tours are conducted from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Because of liability issues and Coast Guard regulations, the top floor, where the lens is located, will be off limits. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Lighthouse tours

Dick Richardson, volunteer coordinator of the U.S. Light House Society, shows off… Continue reading

Port sunsets discount program

Storage had been half price if prepaid

The Worthington Mansion restoration includes 9,000 cedar shingles that were hand dipped bay volunteers two years ago. They are installed on the mansard roof. The top floor of the mansion which is the interior of the roof area is envisioned to become a library area and meeting space. (Peninsula Daily News file)
Worthington Mansion volunteers to cut the ribbon

Overnight stays expected to begin in June

Construction tentatively finishes this week at the new Woodcock Road roundabout. (Bob Lampert)
Woodcock Road roundabout to tentatively finish May 20

Work on the Woodcock Road/Sequim-Dungeness Way roundabout is expected to… Continue reading

Most Read