Thurston County Public Health and Social Services: Septic Care Begins with YOU


Submitted by Thurston County Public Health and Social Services

There are about 53,000 septic systems in Thurston County that treat 12,000,000 gallons of sewage every day. Regular care and maintenance of those septic systems is essential to make sure that our lakes, rivers, streams and Puget Sound are healthy as well as to make sure that our drinking water stays safe, now and in the future. Septic system care can also protect our families and communities from diseases that can be spread from untreated sewage.

Thurston County Public Health recommends that septic systems get an annual inspection to catch problems while they are small and less expensive to fix. Most septic tanks need to be pumped every 3-5 years depending on: how many people live in the home, how large the septic tank is, the type of soil, the amount of water used in the home, and the type of products that are flushed. The best way to maintain your septic system is to work with a septic professional to get on a regular pumping schedule that works for your household. (

Ways to Protect Your System

In addition to regular inspections and pumping as needed, there are easy things that you can do to protect your system:

  • Make sure that only toilet paper goes into the toilet.
  • Limit the use of bleach and other hazardous cleaning products to make sure that the septic tank can treat your waste for years to come.
  • Choose baking soda and vinegar for most of your cleaning needs. Avoid products that say “danger” or “poison” on the label.
  • Conserve water to prolong the life of your on-site septic system. Every gallon of water that leaves the house through the bathroom, kitchen or laundry settles in the septic tank and pushes a gallon of water out into the drainfield for treatment. Conserving water will keep your tank and drainfield working to the best of their ability for as long as possible.
  • Know where all of the different parts of your septic system are located. Never park or drive machinery over them, graze animals, garden or build on top of them. A record drawing of your system and the maintenance records can be found at: You can also contact Thurston County Environmental Health’s permit assistance center at 360-786-5490 to request the records of your system as it was built.
  • Attend a free workshop to learn more!

Thurston County Public Health is offering four free workshops this September to provide basic information on regular care and maintenance. We will talk about how septic systems work, how to hire a professional, and provide take home resources along with a $10 coupon for your next septic pumping. For more information, or to register, contact Jennifer Johnson at or 360-867-2674. Workshops are from 7:00 – 9:00 pm.

Thursday, September 13
Rochester Community Center
10140 US-12, Rochester

Wednesday, September 19
McLane Fire Station
125 Delphi Road NW, Olympia

Tuesday, September 25
Olympia Waldorf School
8126 Normandy Street SE, Olympia

Thursday, September 27
Griffin Fire Station
3707 Steamboat Loop NW, Olympia

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