New septic systems and repairs to existing septic systems are installed with regulatory oversight by the Health Department. Septic Plans are reviewed and approved within 45 days of submission of a completed septic construction application. Installations are inspected and final approvals are issued, in the form of Compliance Certificates by the Health Department, in accordance with 310 CMR 15.00. When proposing to build, upgrade, or replace an onsite wastewater system, you will first need to hire an Engineer to perform soil testing and design your system. The Department witnesses on-site soil testing, including percolation tests and deep test pits, to determine the suitability of a site to support a septic system. The engineer will submit a percolation test request form and then schedule the soil testing with the Health Agent. Following a successful on-site soil testing, plans are prepared by the engineer and submitted, with the appropriate fees, to the Health Department for review and approval. If a variance from the regulation is requested, a hearing before the Board of Health will be required to approve or deny the variance request. Please note that the approval of your variance request by the Board of Health does not constitute an overall approval for the proposed septic plan. The Health Department will notify the owner and the engineer of the scheduled hearing and preparations. The Health Department will also notify you and your engineer if a referral to another department is required. An example would be the referral to the Conservation Department if the minimum setbacks to a wetland or an open water body can't be met. Once your plan is approved, a permit to construct or repair is issued. At this point, you should obtain bids from licensed Septic System Installers registered with the Health Department. Once you have selected your installer, system installations usually last for about two weeks depending on the complexity of the design and the amount of landscaping needed. The Health Department may conduct several inspections during the installation of the system. Following installation, a final inspection is made to ensure installation was performed in accordance with 310 CMR 15.00 and approved plans. An engineer's letter and an installer's letter stating that the system was installed in compliance with 310 CMR 15.00 and approved plans are needed in order to receive the final Certificate of Compliance from the Health Department. The engineer will be required to submit an As-Built plan to the Health Department for review if the system was not installed according to the approved layout but meets all the requirements of 310 CMR 15.00. All complaints concerning the condition or operation of a septic system should be directed to the Health Agent.
Building Applications & Septic Reviews
Whenever an application to obtain a building permit is received by the building department, a copy of the application is turned in to the health department for a septic review regardless of the complexity or simplicity of the building proposal (deck construction, additions, swimming pool construction, interior renovation, construction of a new single family dwelling). The septic review is needed:
- To ensure that the septic system's capacity is not exceeded as a result of the proposed work.
- To protect your septic system from potential damage during construction. An existing and proposed floor plan of the entire building must be included with the application in order to assist the health agent with the visual comparison needed for an effective review. Please note that a building permit will NOT be issued until a Septic Review is completed. If a septic review is successfully completed and a building permit is issued, a walk-through will be conducted by the health agent post completion of the approved work to ensure that the scope of work approved during the septic review was not exceeded during construction. If during a walk-through an increase in flow to the septic system was determined, as a result of the work done outside the scope of approval, the health agent will NOT sign off on the building permit necessary to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy. A modification of the work done to be within the capacity of the septic system (i.e. eliminate a bedroom) or the modification of the septic system itself (i.e. increase the leaching capacity of the system in unrestricted areas only) to accommodate the increase in flow will be required for sign-off on the building permit.