Onsite Wastewater Treatment System

Onsite Wastewater Treatment System Construction/Repair and Property Transfer Information

Residential New Construction

As of July 1, 2012, if you are in the process of constructing a new home in Erie County that needs to have an onsite wastewater treatment system (OWTS), then you must hire a licensed design professional (i.e. a licensed professional engineer, a registered architect, or a licensed land surveyor with an exemption certificate (Section 7208n of New York State Education Law)) to design the appropriate system to serve your residence.  The design professional will create an engineer’s report and plans that must be submitted to the Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) along with an Application for a Construction Permit for an Onsite Wastewater Treatment System for Residential or Commercial Lots Prepared by a Design Professional and a $300 fee.  Click here for a list of licensed engineers (a complete list can be found in the phone book). 

Once the application, fee, engineer’s report and plans are received, the project will be reviewed by Erie County Department of Health staff to determine if the plan meets Health Department regulations.  Once it is determined that the plans meet Health Department regulations, the Department will issue a construction permit.  Click here for design guidelines and requirements

If your home is required to have a well installed in order to supply potable water it must be installed by a NYS Department of Environmental Conservation certified well driller.  The well driller must supply you with a well log detailing the installation of the well.  Once the well has been installed and properly disinfected (see Drinking Water information web page for more information) then the Erie County Department of Health must be contacted at 961-6800 to schedule a time for our representative to collect a sample and have it analyzed for bacteria (coliform/E.coli) at the Erie County Public Health Laboratory.  A copy of the well log must be given to your design professional.

If the result of your water sample is positive for total coliform or E.coli then it is recommended that you re-disinfect your well and contact the Erie County Department of Health to resample.  If the second sample is also positive for total coliform or E.coli then you must have an appropriate disinfection system installed on your water system (See well disinfection procedures).  The Erie County Department of Health will inspect the installation of a disinfection system and collect another sample to have analyzed for bacteria.  This must be completed prior to a Completed Works Approval being issued for the Onsite Wastewater Treatment System.

New Onsite Wastewater Treatment System Installation

You are responsible for hiring a contractor to construct your onsite wastewater treatment system per the Erie County Department of Health approved specifications designed by the design professional you hired.  During the construction of your septic system, your design professional will complete one or more inspections to ensure that the system being installed meets the specifications issued.  Based on the inspection(s), the engineer will issue a construction compliance stating that the system was installed per plans.  The construction certification must be submitted to the ECDOH prior to a Completed Works Approval being issued.

A Completed Works Approval will be issued after your design professional submits a construction compliance form to this Department stating the system was installed properly.  If your home is served by a well, then a copy of the well log from a licensed well driller, a bacteria sample result, and documentation of a disinfection system installation (if needed)  must also be submitted.

Residential Repair/Replacement

If your current onsite wastewater treatment system is in need of repair or if your system is in failure and in need of replacement, you must submit an application and $300 fee to the ECDOH.  Once we receive your application and fee, we will make an assessment as to the degree of failure and the required repairs or replacement.  If your system must be replaced the ECDOH will issue specifications for a new septic system.

If your property includes an existing or proposed private well the location must be included with the application.  The sanitarian will complete an inspection of your well during inspection of the construction of the septic system for your property.  The inspection includes determining if your well and onsite wastewater treatment system meet the proper separation distances, construction requirements, and a water sample to ensure that the well meets bacteriological requirements.  The property survey that must be submitted with your application must include the existing or proposed well location.  Prior to this inspection, it is recommended that you disinfect your well (See well disinfection procedures). 

Onsite Wastewater Treatment System Installation

You are responsible for hiring a contractor to construct your onsite wastewater treatment system per the specifications issued by the ECDOH.  During the construction of your onsite wastewater treatment system, a public health sanitarian will complete one or more inspections to ensure that the system being installed meets the specifications issued.  A Certificate of Construction Compliance will be issued when construction is satisfactorily completed.

Operation and Maintenance of your Septic System

Now that your new onsite wastewater treatment system has been installed here are some things you can do to protect your system and have it function properly.

  • Keep a record of the location of your system. If you do not have this information, please contact us at 961-6800 and we will check our records and if available, provide you with a copy of your system location.
  • Have your septic tank pumped out every three to five years. 
  • Keep a record of all maintenance or repairs that are completed on your system.
  • Don’t park or drive heavy equipment over the area of your septic system.
  • Don’t build structures, such as decks, patios, pools, over any of your system components.
  • Your toilet is not a trash bin. Do not dispose of items such as paper towels, personal hygiene products, baby wipes, diapers, cat litter, or tissues in your toilet.
  • Use toilet paper that specifically states that it is safe for use with septic systems.
  • Do not flush or use strong chemicals. Chemicals and cleaners, such as bleach or chemical drain cleaners, kill the bacteria in your septic tank. The bacteria in your septic tank are vital for breaking down solid matter and in the functionality of your system. If the solid matter is not broken down and digested it could flow through your septic tank into the remainder of your system causing a blockage which could lead to system failure. 
  • Conserve water. Check your home for plumbing leaks. A running toilet wastes 1 gallon of water every 30 seconds. A leaking toilet wastes 200 gallons of water per day.

For additional information regarding the operation and maintenance of your onsite wastewater treatment system:

Difficult Sites for Repair or Replacement

If your property contains multiple constraints for construction, (i.e. creeks, ravines, extreme slope, lack of drainage, etc.), you may be required to hire a design professional to design an onsite wastewater treatment system for your lot.  In this case, once your engineer has designed a septic system for your property, you must submit the plans to the ECDOH with an Application for a Construction Permit for an Onsite Wastewater Treatment System for Residential or Commercial Lots Prepared by a Design Professional and a $300 fee for review and approval.  If an application and fee were previously submitted to this Department to issue the design for your property, an additional application and fee will not be required.  Click here for a list of design professionals (a complete list can be found in the phone book).

You are responsible for hiring a contractor to construct your onsite wastewater treatment system per the Erie County Department of Health approved specifications designed by the design professional you hired.  During the construction of your septic system, your design professional will complete one or more inspections to ensure that the system being installed meets the specifications issued.  Based on the inspection(s), the engineer will issue a construction compliance stating that the system was installed per plans.  The construction certification must be submitted to the ECDOH prior to a Completed Works Approval being issued.

A Completed Works Approval will be issued after your design professional submits a construction compliance form to this Department stating the system was installed properly.  If your home is served by a well, then a copy of the well log from a licensed well driller, a bacteria sample result, and documentation of a disinfection system installation (if needed)  must also be submitted.

Commercial

All commercial facilities must have a design professional prepare plans for the onsite wastewater treatment system required for the property.  Click here for design guidelines and requirements 

The design plans must be submitted to the ECDOH with the required Application for a Construction Permit for an Onsite Wastewater Treatment System for Residential or Commercial Lots Prepared by a Design Professional and $300 fee for review and approval.  Your design professional is required to complete one or more inspections of the onsite wastewater treatment system as it is being constructed.  Based on the inspection(s), the design professional will issue a construction compliance stating that the system was installed per plans.  The construction compliance must be submitted to the ECDOH prior to a Completed Works Approval being issued.

Contact

Phone: (716) 858-7690

Fax: (716) 858-8701

Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH)
95 Franklin Street
Buffalo, New York 14202

ECDOH Locations

Western New York 211