Report a Septic Problem

The Snohomish County Health Department investigates complaints and problems with septic systems in Snohomish County. If you smell a strong sewage odor, see surfacing sewage, or see someone dumping wastewater illegally, you can submit a complaint online. Complaints can be submitted anonymously. Expect a reply regarding the situation after an initial investigation is complete.

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Complaints can be also be mailed to:

Environmental Health Division
Land Use Program
3020 Rucker Avenue
Suite 104
Everett, WA 98201-3900

What is & isn't sewage

There are many substances that can be mistaken for sewage. If you're not sure, there are a few telltale signs. Surfacing sewage typically has a strong sewage odor and a murky, foggy, or milky appearance (see images below in the first slideshow).

Examples of surfacing sewage

Surfacing EffluentThere are a few substances that look unpleasant but are not surfacing sewage. These include iron bacteria, a rusty/red-orange bacteria that can develop in water. It typically looks fuzzy and may have an oily sheen, and it tends to develop in slow moving or standing water. It can have an unpleasant odor, but it doesn't smell like sewage. It's naturally occurring and harmless even though it may look strange. There is also blue-green algae in lakes and other slow moving water that can create a bright green surface.  Blue green algae blooms can create toxic conditions and cause public closures at lakes and shores, but it's presence doesn't mean there is sewage in the water.

Substances that are NOT surfacing sewage

Iron Bacteria