What is Operation and Maintenance(O&M)?

The Onsite Operation & Maintenance (O&M) program is a State mandated program to ensure that septic systems are being used and maintained in a way that is safe for public health. A septic system needs regular checking and maintenance to avoid costly repairs, just like your car or your house. The Washington State 2005 onsite septic system regulations (WAC 246-272A) state that septic system owners shall “assure a complete evaluation of the system components to determine functionality, maintenance needs, and compliance with regulations and any permits.” State regulations require that homeowners inspect and maintain their septic system to ensure it is functioning properly.

What is Monitoring and Maintenance(M&M)?

Monitoring and Maintenance(M&M) refers to the program for inspections and maintenance for your septic system in Kitsap County. Monitoring and Maintenance(M&M) is basically the same as Operation and Maintenance(O&M) but under a different name. In Kitsap County you must have an annual maintenance contract with a certified monitoring and maintenance(M&M) specialist.

What does Operation and Maintenance consist of?

Septic systems have become more complex, and so have their operation and maintenance needs. A traditional onsite sewage system or “gravity system” is a basic system and requires a more limited amount of maintenance. The O&M of a standard gravity system may be limited to monitoring the tank scum/sludge and liquid levels and inspection of the drainfield or leach field. Alternative systems differ in design in that they achieve a greater degree of effluent treatment than conventional systems. Alternative systems generally fall into four different types: pressurized drainfields, mounds, sand filters and patented devices. The O&M required depends on the type and complexity of the system used but not be limited to:

  • Inspection of the septic tank to determine scum, sludge, and liquid levels in each of the compartments and pumping if necessary of the septic tank.
  • Inspection of the pump tank (if present) which may include checking the effluent pump, control floats, cleaning pump vaults and pumping if necessary.
  • Inspection of an Aerobic Treatment Unit(ATU) which may include the cleaning the filter or media within the aerobic treatment unit; cleaning and inspecting the aeration device, and determine scum, sludge, and liquid levels and pumping if necessary of the ATU.
  • Inspection of the lateral drain field lines for levels of effluent (ponding); flushing lateral pressure distribution lines (if present), and measuring residual head pressure.
  • Inspection of the sand filter pretreatment unit for levels of ponding; flushing lateral pressure lines within the sand filter, and measuring residual head pressure.
  • Inspection mound units such as Glendon Units, or a mound distribution system, noting mound integrity, cover, effluent seepage, and presence of ponding.
  • Inspection of drip irrigation systems (if present), flushing laterals, cleaning filtration components, measuring pressure, flow, and drip field absorption.
  • Inspection and replacement of disinfection devices such as a UV light or Chlorinators.
  • Inspecting unit components and replacing parts as necessary.

Does everyone need operation & maintenance?

The Kitsap County Board of Health adopted Ordinance No. 1995-12 in 1996. In summary, this regulation requires property owners be responsible for ensuring that their onsite sewage system have the appropriate Operation & Maintenance. For owners of alternative on-site sewage systems, the regulation requires that property owners obtain a contract with a certified maintenance specialist to do the Operation & Maintenance (see Section 6.B. of Ordinance No. 1995-12).

The Pierce County Board of Health adopted Resolution No. 2010-4222 in 2010. This regulation requires an operational evaluation of the system components be reported to the Health Department at intervals established in their OSS Management Plan by a certified O&M Firm(see Section 42.B through 42.E of Resolution No. 2010-4222).

What about my older system? Does it have to meet these requirements, too?

State and local regulations currently require that all sewage systems have ongoing monitoring and maintenance.

Who can perform Operation & Maintenance?

In Kitsap County, monitoring and maintenance must be performed by a certified Maintenance Specialist. Maintenance Specialists certified by the Health District must have:

  • A Washington State contractor’s license;
  • Current insurance and bonding;
  • Complete 40 hours of Health District approved class participation;
  • 1 year work experience, supervised by a currently certified Maintenance Specialist;
  • Passed the certification exam;
  • Pay all applicable fees and be in good standing with the Health District;
  • Provide proof of sufficient continuing education class participation.