Septic Systems

Did you know...

A failing septic system can impact more than just your wallet, it can:

  • Allow potentially harmful bacteria and other disease-causing microorganisms to enter our drinking water

  • Result in greater algae and plant growth in the lake as a result of added nutrients

  • Result in decreased dissolved oxygen in the lake

  • Result in people coming into direct contact with raw sewage

You can help!

Over 700 homes in the Lake Whatcom watershed rely on a septic system to treat their sewage. As a septic system owner, you are responsible for evaluating and maintaining your system to make sure it is working properly. Properly working and maintained systems protect public health by keeping sewage out of the lake and reduce the chance that your system will require costly repairs in the future. Help is available! Learn more at or call the Whatcom County Health Department at (360) 778-6000.

Avoid septic system failure:

  • Evaluate gravity systems every three years

  • Evaluate all other types of systems annually

  • Get your septic system pumped when solids reach 1/3 of tank volume

  • Avoid overloading your septic system:

    • Check your sinks, toilets, and showers regularly for leaks

    • Run your dishwasher, washing machine, and showers at different times

    • Have a break between running loads of washing

    • Redirect surface water runoff away from the drain field

  • Be aware of what is going down the drain and entering your system:

    • Avoid using your garbage disposal; sending food into your tank fills it up faster!

    • Avoid flushing products designed to kill bacteria down your drain/toilet as these may also kill the essential bacteria needed to make your septic system work properly (antibiotics, products containing bleach, polishes, caustic drain openers)

    • Use cleaning products that are safe for septic systems (OSS)

  • Keep grease and oils out of your drains

  • Avoid using any products containing phosphates or nitrates as these may enter the water supply

  • Flush only human waste and toilet paper down the toilet

Septic System Failure

If you are having a problem with your septic system, you should have it inspected immediately.