Jefferson County to offer cost-sharing on sewage system fixes

Program funds up to 80 percent of repairs

PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County Public Health has launched a cost-sharing program to help homeowners repair or replace their on-site sewage systems.

The agency will focus on areas in Discovery Bay and along the Hood Canal near commercial shellfish operations to help improve water quality.

“We’d really like to help anybody who could potentially be impacting the waters that have commercial shellfish,” said Denese Schauer, an environmental health specialist at the county health department.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program is funding about $300,000 through the state Department of Health, Schauer said.

The program will run until the funds are spent or through June 2021.

“As far as I know, we are the first in the Puget Sound basin,” Schauer said.

Homeowners can qualify for up to an 80 percent cost share based on several factors, including geographic location, public health and financial criteria.

“We know this is expensive, and if you’re in a risk area — certainly being on the waterfront is a risk area — we’d like to see a proper system that treats the wastewater on those properties,” Schauer said.

A list of application materials can be found on the public health cost-share page, More information also is available on the Jefferson County Public Health Facebook page or by calling 360-985-9444.

Schauer said applicants must be the property owners.

“We have some homeowners who have applied for and received permits for their system, but they never installed it because they didn’t have the money,” she said.

Cost-sharing funds can’t exceed $20,000 for any one property, according to an agency press release.

There are nearly 14,000 permitted septic systems and “a good number of unauthorized or pre-permit systems” in the county, the release said.

Some include what Schauer described as a traditional trench.

“Some of those, after years of use, are starting to show their wear and tear,” she said.

On-site systems weren’t required as they are today until the 1970s, Schauer said.

The county will require a homeowner to provide a quote from a certified inspector that estimates the repairs needed.

Schauer said some signs of needed repair might include the system frequently backing up, or if homeowners are pumping more often than they think they should.

“Maybe it’s fixable, or maybe it should be replaced,” she said.

Those who live upland also should consider applying due to potential effects on surface water, she said.

“If you are sitting in a watershed that drains right into the Hood Canal, we would be interested,” Schauer said.

Household income can’t exceed U.S. Health and Human Services poverty guidelines for 2019.

“Maybe if this takes off and people take advantage of it, and I hope they do, we can get more money for more counties in the Puget Sound region and get some repair for folks,” Schauer said.


Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at

More in News

Andrea Raymor, left, and Christine Cray, former owners of the Spruce Goose Cafe on Airport Road in Port Townsend, share a moment with the new owners of the cafe in the background, Ashley Owen, left, Vanessa McKenney, middle, and sister Kathryn McKenney during a break between cooking and waitressing. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Spruce Goose keeps new ownership in Port Townsend

Waitresses, cook purchase business, keep local institution

Clallam Economic Development Council seeking consulting funding

High-wage industrial jobs sought as long-term goal

Jefferson County Historical Society board president Ann Welch, lef,) and director of development and communications Alexandra Toombs at the Museum of Art + History. (Elijah Sussman/Peninsula Daily News)
Jefferson County history museum renovating space

Society plans to rotate exhibits annually

Motorcycle rider airlifted after collision with deer

A motorcycle rider was airlifted to a Seattle hospital after… Continue reading

Sequim Bay closed to shellfish harvest

Beaches in Sequim Bay have been closed for recreational shellfish… Continue reading

Project 10 to help women’s wardrobes

United Way event set for Aug. 8 in Sequim

Bernadette Shein helps answer quilt questions for visitors of the Sunbonnet Sue Quilt Club’s annual quilt show in 2023. This year, the event will move to Trinity United Methodist Church and expand to two days, Friday and Saturday. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Quilt show gets new venue, expands to two-day event

Raffle quilts benefit club, scholarship fund

Olympic Medical Center to host community forum

Olympic Medical Center will host a virtual-only community forum… Continue reading

Weekly flight operations scheduled

There will be field carrier landing practice operations for aircraft… Continue reading

Clallam 2 Fire-Rescue
Firefighters respond to a fire near the ridge south of Port Angeles in the area known as the “Six Pack.”
UPDATE: Wildfire south of Port Angeles contained

Bulldozer, helicopter help firefighting efforts

State Senate hopefuls differ on pathways

Chapman, Kelbon make case for 24th District