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SepticSmart Week: Protect your home and the environment

September 16, 2016

Septic maintenance contributes to healthy homes, waterways

Avoid costly repairs and contamination of local waterways with properly working septic systems. Financial help is available to homeowners for inspections and repairs.

TACOMA, Wash. –
Protect your family, your community and the environment with regular inspection and maintenance of your septic system. That’s the message Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department wants to emphasize during SepticSmart Week, Sept. 19-23, and all year long.

“Once a septic system fails, the financial and environmental damage is done,” said Gary Porter, on-site sewage and well permitting program manager at Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. “We want to help people avoid those pitfalls,” Porter said.

Properly working septic systems can protect ground, surface, and drinking water from contamination. They help prevent bacterial pollution from entering Puget Sound directly or through storm water run-off into creeks and streams. When untreated sewage gets into our waterways, it can lead to unsafe swimming conditions, shellfish contamination, and other environmental hazards that can harm people’s health.

Septic System Safety

Follow these guidelines to protect your family, your community and the environment:
  • Know the location of your septic system and drain field — If you’re unsure, contact the Health Department at (253) 798-6577 or search property records at
  • Walk your property routinely to observe potential safety or health risks and take steps to address them Check the drain field and down slope areas for broken equipment, holes, odors, wet spots or surfacing sewage.
  • Make sure your septic tank lid(s) properly cover the opening and are secure and durable — Check for damage, weakness and cracks to prevent injuries and falls into the tank.
  • Other safety measures — Prevent children and pets from playing around the septic tank. Avoid building structures over the drain field, or parking cars or heavy equipment on the drain field.
Financial Help for Inspections and Repairs

Financial assistance for septic system inspections and repairs is available through the Health Department. We are the lead agency for the regional Clean Water Loan Program, which offers low-interest loans to residence in Pierce County and across Western Washington to repair, upgrade, or replace failing septic systems. The loans are through Craft3, a non-profit lender that serves Washington and Oregon. Learn more about the loans and how to apply for them at

Pierce County residents may qualify for other financial assistance for septic system repairs. Find these resources at

Key Peninsula residents can get up to $450 in incentives to cover the cost of septic system inspections, the installation of access risers, and septic tank pumping. The funds are available for a limited time and the program will end once the money is gone. To apply go to

Look for tips and other useful information every day during SepticSmart Week on the Health Department’s Facebook page, Go to to learn more about septic systems. Find a list of certified septic service professionals at

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