Whatcom County Septic Inspection Rules Change…. Again

Bellingham & Whatcom County Septic Inspections

Barbara Brenner a Whatcom County Council Member sent this out the end
of last week in regards to Whatcom County septic inspections and rules,
I thought it might be useful information for those of you who own homes
which are not on city sewer such as myself.

Last Tuesday night the council approved some amendments
to the OSS plan that make it more flexible. I would have preferred
more flexibility but the amendments are a great improvement over
what we had.

With the amendments after initial professional inspections
are performed, homeowners of all passing systems can do their own
inspections until the ninth year (that would be two homeowner
inspections at three year intervals) for gravity systems and until
the seventh year (that would be six homeowner
inspections at yearly intervals) for more complicated systems.
The frequency ofinspections is dictated by the State of Washington.
The frequency of professional inspections is dictated by Whatcom County.

Additionally homeowners will be able to do their own inspections in
sensitive areas following the same schedule as above. Sensitive
areas will be inspected before other areas.

Additionally a licensed operations and maintenance inspection
professional will be required to pass a test but will not have
to be in the business for two years prior to being qualified
as was previously required.

To be able to do self inspections homeowners must first
take a homeowners’ class. I hope the class will be free. I
believe some other council members are interested in free
classes also. The homeowners classes have not been set up

Our treasurer Steve Oliver has spent much time researching
a low interest loan program/grant program for OSS
repairs/replacement and believes we can create one that
will be effective.

I believe there should be more flexibility and that may
happen if the health department continues to have only a
5% failure rate which is the approximate failure rate on
property sales so far.

Should you have any further questions or concerns you can reach Barbara Brenner at (360) 384-2762.


  1. Lylene says:

    Hi Ray,

    I finally talked with the county regarding the class for homeowner’s to inspection their own system. It is being planned, but there is no time schedule as yet. However, there are some limitations on when a homeowner can do the inspection. The initial one must be professionally done. An inspection done as part of a sale of the property must be professionally done. Every third inspection must be professionally done. Sounds like you are stuck with paying a professional this time around.

  2. Lylene says:

    Hi Ray,

    I just checked with the Whatcom County Health Dept, and no class is currently being offered but supposedly one is being planned. I was referred to Molly and left her a message – will post her response here when she gets back to me. In the meantime, feel free to call her.

    Good luck!


  3. Ray Manthano says:

    I bought a house in Blaine 3 yrs ago. I just received the notice (have been away) re the OSS inspection. I am very upset,frustrated at the govt control (Big Brother) telling me that I am in the Drayton Harbor watershed (over 5 miles away and not near any creeks) .I have been pricing inspectors (cant believe they can make us do this and not supply co inspectors?) and it looks to be expensive.
    However, THANK YOU THANK YOU, for helping us with a possible class. I say possible because I have heard nothing and I see this article by you was dated over a yr ago.
    Are there any classes available? thanks again ray