Written by Whatcom County, Washington 3:42 pm Industry News

Case Study: Exceptional Efforts to Increase Awareness of Septic Systems in Whatcom County, Washington

Located in the northwest of Washington State with the Canadian border to the north and the Salish Sea to the west, Whatcom County is known for their rich water-intensive resources such as their aquaculture of shellfish and agriculture of raspberries. Therefore, protecting waterbodies and watersheds have been a top priority.

With more than 28,000 total septic systems, including 20,000 septic systems on sensitive areas along the coast and on the Lake Whatcom watershed, the county worked with seven coordinating partners who represent local municipalities to undertake a multi-year innovative campaign. The goal was to dramatically increase awareness of septic systems and to encourage best management practices for homeowners, utilizing SepticSmart Week and Clean Water Week to amplify their message.

  1. Assessment: The County utilized surveys and interviews to establish a baseline of the residents’ understanding of septic systems.
  2. Initiatives: This step helped inform the creation of communications outreach such as a press release, postcards, social media posts, and radio ads. The County also hosted events such as homeowners workshops and a public viewing of the feature film Mr. Toilet, a documentary on global sanitation.
  3. Evaluation: These efforts proved to have effectively increased awareness based on workshop attendance, responses from a follow-up survey, and increased website traffic.

In addition to the coordinated messaging approach, the County focused on leveraging federal, state, and local funding sources, and increasing water quality monitoring capacity. For more information about Whatcom County’s campaign, visit the County’s website.

Whatcom County, Washington

Last modified: September 15, 2023