Department of Ecology News Release - August 18, 2014

More protective standards for onsite septic systems proposed
Amended Spokane County shoreline program available for public review

SPOKANE – New standards being proposed for residential onsite wastewater treatment systems in shoreline areas of Spokane County will better protect surface and groundwater. The standards are part of a limited amendment to the county’s existing shoreline program.

Onsite wastewater treatment systems contribute nutrients like phosphorus to groundwater which in turn feeds rivers and lakes. Too many nutrients can cause harmful algae blooms. The new standards proposed will result in reduced nutrients released to groundwater.

The proposed amendment also calls for the drain-field portion of onsite systems to be located outside shoreline areas whenever possible, while meeting Washington Department of Health requirements. When lot boundaries limit the location of onsite systems to within shoreline areas, the systems must meet strict design, performance and maintenance standards, including monitoring.

Washington Department of Ecology, the county and several environmental organizations collaborated on the proposed new standards as a result of an Eastern Washington Growth Management Hearings Board decision in December 2013. 

After public review and final Ecology approval, the amendment to the county’s shoreline program will become part of the overall state shoreline program.

Comments will be accepted through Sept. 17 by 5 p.m. Comments and questions should be addressed to Sara Hunt, Department of Ecology, Shorelands and Environmental Assistance Program, 4601 N. Monroe, Spokane, Wash. 99205, by email to, or call 509-329-3561.

Spokane County’s proposed shoreline program amendment and related documents can be reviewed at: 



Brook Beeler, Washington Department of Ecology, 509-329-3478, and @ecyspokane