March 2015 Spotlight – Island County Environmental Health

Island County Environmental Health monitors many essential services on Whidbey and Camano Islands. We inspect schools, pools, restaurants and recycling centers. 

Maribeth Crandell collecting samples of toxic algae.

Maribeth Crandell collecting samples of toxic algae.

We are members of ECO-Net because we also care about water quality, from drinking water, to salmon restoration projects.  We take water samples for testing at popular swimming beaches, test shellfish and work with State and local agencies to monitor them for toxic algae blooms, paralytic shellfish poisoning, fecal coliform or other health hazards.  Our outreach efforts help prevent any public safety or health problems.

schematic diagram of relationship of house, septic system, well, and groundwater

From what goes down the drain inside, to protecting the drain field outside, Home Owner Septic Training will help you live well with your septic system and learn how to avoid costly repairs or replacement.

A number of our staff work with home owners on septic system issues. In Island County, roughly 70% of homes depend upon septic systems for waste water treatment and 70% are dependent on ground water for drinking.  Many people have moved to the Islands from urban areas where they were on a city sewer system.  Septic systems can be very different. In order to protect our water and public health we offer educational programs for home owners with septic systems.   

Septic 101 is offered for free to teach people how to live with their septic system in a way that helps that system work well and last as long as possible.  Septic 201 classes teach people how to inspect their system.  If you have a conventional gravity or pressure system, and pay $28, you could get certified to inspect your own system.  Both of these classes are taught both online and in person.

For those with an alternative system like a mound, sand filter or aerobic treatment unit, you can attend our new free Alternative Septic System Class taught in partnership with the Whidbey Island Conservation District.  (This class is offered for education, not certification.)  Alternative Systems require a licensed Maintenance Service Provider to inspect the system annually.

Inspections, like a tune-up for your car, help catch any problems before they become expensive repairs or failure. Inspections are required by local and state laws every 1-3 years depending on the type of system you have. If, during your inspection you discover the system has problems, we have financial assistance available for repairs or replacement. 

If you live in the Penn Cove Watershed, we have a Rebate Program that will probably cover the cost of your inspection.  It is available while supplies last for 2015 inspections in the Penn Cove Watershed. Those who are up-to-date with their inspections will get a PC sticker for their car.

For a list of Septic System professionals, and a link to registration for our online or in person Septic classes, information on our financial assistance or Rebate Programs visit: or call 360-679-7350.