photo of two people in a kayak

Washington Waters  Ours to Protect

septic On-Site Septic Systems - Guidance

Is on-site septic system failure part of the water quality problem in your area? Here are some tools and ideas that might help.

Tools to use

Poster/fact sheet Need a poster about the problem with failing septic systems? How about a flier or fact sheet? Download these and customize them to include your contact information. Print them back-to-back or separately.

Ideas for you

Posters and fact sheets can’t get the job done alone. Here are some more tips on how to promote watershed protection. Use messages that fit your audience. Highlight benefits and minimize barriers —offer products and services, promote messages in places people go and develop partnerships.

Some related messages
Maintaining your septic system:

  • Protects public health and water quality.
  • Prevents a costly repair.
  • Keeps your property valuable.
  • Prevents small problems from becoming big ones.
  • Involves your commitment to plan on having a professional inspection and pumping every 3-5 years.
  • Makes you a good neighbor.

Ways to get your message out

On products or services:

  • Web page that lists the benefits and shows potential costs for neglecting your septic system.
  • Pre-printed file folder to keep records on septic systems.
  • Systematic reminders—tie checking system to a regular event, leap year. Some county health departments send out reminder cards when maintenance is due.
  • Refrigerator magnet: “Next septic pumping in 20__.
  • Offer training/maintenance workshops.

In places people go:

  • Local health jurisdictions
  • Professional installer or service provider

Through media or message carriers:

  • Hotlines
  • Web site
  • Direct mail
  • Broadcast media—radio
  • Tip card

With partners:

  • Local health jurisdiction
  • Inspection companies

Motivating change

Use tools and methods that help people participate. These should help answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”

  • Loan program.
  • Pump coupon connected to inspection or inspection discount.
  • Clean bill of health from your local health department for your file.

More resources

Department of Health:
Septic and Sewer Publications
State rules (Chapter 246-272A WAC)
Large On-site Sewage System (LOSS)

Local rules: contact your local health department

Some websites containing good homeowner information:
King County
Clallam County
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Posters and Fact Sheets

Department of Health wastewater forms and publications for homeowners & property managers

National Small Flows Clearinghouse Basic Septic information

Related Web Sites

Department of Health, Large On-site Sewage System (LOSS)

Department of Health, Shellfish Program

Department of Licensing, Onsite Designer and Inspector Licensing Program

Puget Sound Partnership

Washington Sea Grant

 get the Washington Waters logo



Links to all the posters and factsheets for all three regional campaigns