Septic system

During the state’s SepticSmart Week, Skagit County Public Health is calling attention to the thousands of septic systems in the county.

About one in three homes in the state aren’t connected to sewers and rely instead on septic systems, which flush wastewater into the ground where it can filter through the soil for natural sanitation.

In Skagit County, there are about 18,000 septic systems, or what are also called on-site sewage systems.

Gov. Jay Inslee proclaimed the week of Sept. 16-20 SepticSmart Week as part of ongoing efforts to educate communities about the importance of septic system maintenance.

When septic systems fail, they can contaminate groundwater, streams and marine waters.

In Skagit County, bacteria potentially from failing septic systems has impacted areas including commercial shellfish beds in Samish Bay and beaches along Padilla Bay.

To avoid environmental problems and prevent the need for costly repairs, regular inspections and pumping are recommended.

Skagit County is also highlighting steps those with septic systems can take to keep them functioning. The recommendations include:

— Don’t send harsh chemicals or grease down the sink.

— Don’t send trash, including baby wipes and feminine hygiene products, down the toilet.

— Avoid overflows by staggering the use of water for showering, bathing and washing dishes or laundry.

— Keep the drain field clear of roots, as well as heavy livestock and cars.

While septic system repairs or replacements can cost thousands of dollars, there are programs that can offer homeowners financial assistance.

A company that provides loans announced Thursday that it expanded Sept. 1 into Skagit County.

The loan program is offered in partnership between the state Department of Ecology and community lender Craft3.

— Reporter Kimberly Cauvel: 360-416-2199, kcauvel@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Kimberly_SVH, Facebook.com/bykimberlycauvel

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