Septic Repair & Replacement Guidelines

Replacements & Repair Program Guidelines

Replacements & Repair Program Guidelines

This guide is intended to provide general information for applying for financial assistance and the process required in replacing and/or repairing your septic system. This is not an all-inclusive guide. There are items and situations that may not be covered. The Spokane Conservation District (SCD) assumes no responsibility for the property owner’s septic system replacement or repair. Please read the following carefully.

On-Site Septic System Financial Assistance Program
The SCD’s On-Site Septic System (OSS) Program is designed to provide financial assistance to property owners in the form of loans and grants. Property owners could be eligible for either or a combination of both. The funding is only available for property owners with existing septic systems that are either failing or in need of repair. These septic system projects need to be located outside of any planned sewer connection areas and provide a benefit to ground and/or surface water quality.
Low-Interest Loans

  • SCD will provide the following loan rates to qualified homeowners determined by their income level and total cost of repair or replacement of the septic system
  • Five-year loan terms:
    I. 3.6% for < 50% of Spokane County Median Household Income
    ($23,423 a year or lower).
    II. 4.6% for 50 to 80% of Spokane County Median Household Income
    ($23,423 to $37,476 a year).
    III. 5.6% for > 80% of Spokane County Median Household Income and for small commercial properties (over $37,476 a year).
    *MHI - Median Household Income for Spokane County is $46,846 (2011 OFM preliminary data).

Small Grants

  •  Available to lower income property owners
  •  Financial loan officer will determine eligibility and award
  •  Project must provide a ground or surface water quality benefit

How do you know if you need to repair or replace your septic system?
If you notice any of the following signs of a potential failure or if you suspect your septic system may be having problems, contact a qualified septic professional or the Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) for further diagnostics (509) 324-1560.

  • Odors, surfacing sewage, or wet spots in the drainfield area.
  • Plumbing or septic tank backups (often a black liquid with a disagreeable odor).
  • Slow draining fixtures. 
  • Gurgling sounds in the plumbing system. 
  • If you have a well and tests show the presence of coliform (bacteria) or nitrates, your drainfield may be failing.
  • Standing liquid over the drainfield, even during dry weather. This may indicate an excessive amount of effluent is moving up through the soil, instead of downward.

Procedure for OSS Replacement and Repairs:
1. Verification of the failing septic system: Property owners must first have verification that their septic system is either failing or in need of repair. They must contact a local septic professional or SRHD Staff at (509) 324-1464. A septic professional must confirm the problem and provide documentation to either the property owner, SRHD staff or to the SCD.
2. Verification that no planned sewer is available: SCD staff will verify that there are no nearby sewer mains for connection of residence and that there is no planned sewer for area.
3. Contact the SCD: Once there is confirmation of a septic system issue, property owners can contact the SCD (509)-535-7274 to receive information regarding the OSS Financial Assistance Program and to receive an application packet. Complete the application packet and submit it with all required documentation to Barry Tee, the SCD OSS Loan Officer. You will be notified within three (3) business days of your eligibility status. Eligibility is based upon income level and water quality benefit. You can submit (hand deliver or mail) your application and all required documents to:
                        Spokane Conservation District
                        OSS Program
                        210 N. Havana
                        Spokane, WA 99202

Required Financial Documentation
Applicants need to submit:

  •  The completed and signed loan application
  •  Most recent two months pay stubs. Please explain if your income is variable
  •  Verification of any other income sources you would like considered in our credit decision

For those on Social Security or Disability:

  • The completed and signed loan application
  • In lieu of pay stubs, you need to provide a benefit verification letter. This letter will serve as verification of your Social Security income. It can be obtained online at or through the Spokane Social Security office at SUITE 100, 714 N IRONBRIDGE WAY, SPOKANE, WA 99202, phone 1-800-772-1213
  •  Verification of any other income sources you would like considered in our credit decision

4. Contact a Licensed and Bonded Septic Designer/Installer: The property owner should immediately research and contact three qualified septic installer/engineer to provide a design and installation bid. The SRHD has online lists of qualified septic installers (Current Installers List) and septic designers (Current Designers List). Both of these lists have been provided in your packet. To be eligible for the OSS Program, the designer/installer is required to be licensed and bonded. Choosing the right designer/installer is not an easy task. Property owners are encouraged to be diligent in their selection. The suggestions below may help you select the best professional for the job, but are not all inclusive.
     • A professional installer should be polite and courteous but not a “yes” person. They should tell you what they will do, and what they won’t do.
     • They should be willing to provide you with a reasonably itemized contract that spells out their responsibilities as well as yours.
     • They should provide you with a list of references that would be willing to let you view the system that was installed for them. But you should still ask around the community to find out what their reputation is like.
     • They should belong to professional organizations and attend routine training.
     • Their equipment should be in good repair. Not necessarily brand new but it shouldn’t be on its last legs either. If you have a chance, go to a job where they are currently working.
     • They should stand behind their work and be willing to provide operation and maintenance for the system or be working with a service provider that can perform this duty for you.

Find three designers/installers that fit this profile and have them all give you a bid on the system to be replaced at your home. Compare the bids closely, being sure that you understand what they will be providing as part of the installation and pick the best value. That would be the one that will do the most comprehensive job for the best price. The cheapest installation is not always the best value; the most expensive may not be the best either. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Armed with this information, your chances of choosing a professional installer increase dramatically. The SCD requires that you obtain three bids for review and approval. You should submit these bids along with your application and other required financial documents to the SCD to speed up the application process.

5. SCD Loan/Grant Agreement: A loan/grant agreement will be developed based upon eligibility of the property owner. Once signed, the property owner can move forward and hire a contractor to design and install the project.

6. Letter of Credit: A letter of credit from the SCD will be issued to the selected contractor for workmanlike services. The letter is a guarantee of payment from the SCD once the work is completed.

7. Site Visit: The septic designer/installer will need to come to your home, review the site, soils, and potentially need to dig some test holes. They will then need to prepare a system design and layout the total project expenses to you.

8. Final Design and SRHD Permit Application: Once a design is complete, the designer/installer should submit a final design to SRHD and apply for a permit to install a replacement septic system.
     • Permit Fees (varies – dependent upon project components. e.g. below)
               Tank replacement - $150 application fee; $300 permit
               Full septic replacement - $640 application fee; $930 permit fee
       • SRHD Waiver - $150 (May be required for non-compliant designs) 

9. SRHD Staff Visit: Once the application has been submitted, the SRHD staff will visit the site and approve the design plans. This will be based upon evaluation of site (soils, etc.). If there is disagreement with design, corrections will be submitted to designer/engineer to complete and re-submit. Once the design is finalized and accepted, any outstanding fees will be collected and the permit will be issued for installation.

10. Project Installation and SRHD Inspection: Once the permit has been issued, the property owner has up to one year to install the project under the SCD OSS program requirements. Installation must be coordinated, inspected, and approved by SRHD staff. Once the project has been completed, as-builts must be submitted to the SCD for recording purposes. These can be obtained through the designer or SRHD.

11. Final Project Payment: Once the project is satisfactorily complete for all workmanlike services and the property has been restored to original condition, the contractor should submit an invoice and copies of all receipts for the project to the SCD. Once verified and approved, the SCD will issue a check to the designer/installer/or property owner as contractually agreed.
                 Eligible Project Expenses:
                       • SRHD application, permit and waiver
                       • Back hoe – test holes
                       • Engineering – preliminary engineering report
                       • Engineering – final engineering report and designs
                       • Excavation/installation of project/connection of plumbing
                       • Pump installation
                       • Pumping of old septic tank
                       • Landscape restoration to original condition (maximum of $1000)

12. SCD Loan Agreement: The property owner will provide any required loan payments according to the agreed upon schedule.

Expected Septic System Replacement Costs:
A property owner may expect a wide range of costs to replace a septic system. There are many variables involved that can affect the expenses at a particular site (e.g. the type of system, soils, etc.). In Spokane County, the range can be anywhere from $5,000 to approximately $20,000.

*Any expenses incurred prior to completing and signing an SCD contract for a grant or loan cannot be reimbursed.

All SCD Programs and Services are offered without discrimination