n County put into effect the Henderson Watershed Maintenance Program it
affected approximately 6,400 homes.Many homeowners that live in the Henderson
Watershed Area may not know why the rules are so stringent. So to get
an idea of what the program does and what it tries to help...read on...
What is the problem?
Henderson Inlet and its tributaries are contaminated with fecal coliform
bacteria, which is taking its toll on the quality of water in the Inlet.
As a result, the state Department of Health has prohibited or conditionally
closed* shellfish harvesting on 520+ acres in Henderson Inlet. The state
Department of Ecology has also placed Henderson Inlet and four of its
tributaries, including Woodland and Woodard creeks, on the list of impaired
water bodies of Washington State.
*One-half inch of rain closes commercial shellfish harvesting for five
days in Henderson Inlet.
Who came up with this O&M program?
A Citizen Advisory Committee was convened in December 2003 to help Thurston
County consider the problem of pollution from septic systems and to help
develop a septic system operation and maintenance program to address the
problem. In addition, the Henderson Shellfish Protection District stakeholders
evaluated the watershed’s fecal coliform problem and made septic
systems their highest priority.
After several years of public input, the Advisory Committee’s recommendations
were presented to the Thurston County Board of Health and adopted on November
21, 2005, as the Henderson Watershed Protection Area Septic System Operation
and Maintenance Program. The program went into effect on January 1, 2007.
Is this a new idea?
A county-wide operation and maintenance program for community septic systems
and certain types of systems has been in place for more than 15 years.
As early as the 1980’s, watershed plans for Totten, Eld, Budd/Deschutes,
and Henderson, prepared with input and support of citizens, all included
recommendations for septic system operation and maintenance programs.
The concept of such a program was first recommended as part of a wastewater
facilities plan for the Cooper Point area in 1999, but the plan was not
This new program adopted for the Henderson watershed provides added water
quality protection by ensuring that all septic systems within the Henderson
Watershed Protection Area are routinely maintained and inspected.
How does this program help?
The purpose of this program is to ensure that all septic system owners
are maintaining and inspecting their septic systems to prevent premature
failures. This program will help by regularly evaluating all septic systems
within the program area, so that problems can be identified as soon as
possible and repairs made.
How was the boundary chosen?
The intent of this program is to reduce the fecal contamination that is
responsible for the shellfish harvesting downgrades, so the boundary was
established for the area most likely to be influencing the bacteria pollution
in the Inlet.
After reviewing studies and available information, it was determined that
septic systems in the southern part of the Henderson Shellfish Protection
Area ("the lakes") are not likely to be direct contributors.
The time that it would take for water to move through the series of lakes
and get to Woodland Creek wouldn’t allow bacteria to survive. This
area was subsequently removed from the O&M program.
How many properties are involved?
When does the program take effect?
After several years of public input, the program was adopted on November
21, 2005, and went into effect on January 1, 2007.
How long will this program last?
At the end of five years the program will be evaluated to see how it's
working. The program will end in ten years (December 31, 2016) unless
renewed by the County Board of Health.