Perhaps the best “diagnostic” tool for identifying problems with any small water system is a Sanitary Survey which is a comprehensive inspection mandated for Group A ground water systems by the Federal Government (CFR 141.401) with responsibility delegated to Washington State via its Administrative Code (WAC 246-290-416).

In Island County, Sanitary Surveys of systems with more complex treatment facilities or special problems are conducted by the NW Regional Engineer for the State Department of Health, Office of Drinking Water. More routine Surveys are delegated to officials in the County Health Department.

While these are not “White Glove” inspections as in the military, the inspectors look for the kinds of discrepancies that may lead to system failure or worse, illness among those who drink the water that you are purveying.

State law requires a routine survey every five years, however, the occurrence of positive tests for coliforms or other reported problems typically calls for more frequent Surveys. Wise owners and operators of our local water systems will operate and maintain their equipment and keep their paper documents up to date as if a Sanitary Survey is scheduled for tomorrow. The burden of correcting discrepancies falls on the systems’ owners and their boards of directors.

While neither Federal nor State laws require Sanitary Surveys for Group B water systems, as always, WIWSA recommends that the owners of Group B systems “pretend” that they are Group A systems and hold themselves to the higher standards!

Our Quarterly Members’ Meeting on June 15th will focus entirely on Sanitary Surveys and experts from the State and the County will be on hand to advise you and to answer your questions.

Warm regards,

Jim Patton