Tips and Information for your septic system

Tip # 1 - Use a reputable company, like N-Tex Construction, to design and install your system.

Do's and Don'ts

Educate your family and guests about what NOT to flush.
Re-route water run off away from your sewer drain field.
Limit softeners and additives.

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
Common Sense Tips

Limit Water Use:

Use water saving devices.
Immediately repair leaking faucets and toilets.
Stagger clothes washing days.

Use harsh additive chemicals.
Park or drive on your drain field.
Flush non-biodegradeable items, i.e., Sanitary Napkins, applicators, cigarette butts, etc.

Information on On-Site Sewage Facilities

State Regulations
Obtaining Permits
Step 1. The site and soil are evaluated
Step 2. A sewage treatment system is chosen
Step 3. A plan is developed for the system
Step 4. An application and planning materials are submitted to
the permitting authority
Step 5. The permitting authority reviews the application and planning
Step 6. The permitting authority grants an authorization to construct
Step 7. The system is built
Step 8. The permitting authority inspects the system
Step 9. The permitting authority issues a notice of approval or license
to operate

About 45,000 on-site wastewater treatment systems are installed annually in Texas to treat wastewater from rural and suburban homes as well as from small businesses. An on-site wastewater treatment system collects, treats and applies wastewater to the soil.

By definition, wastewater managed by an on-site system cannot leave the property where it is generated. The water can evaporate into the air, transpire though plants or move though the soil to groundwater. An effective on-site system removes wastewater form the home, treats and distributes the wastewater, and protects our water resources.

Selecting the appropriate system for the site conditions is critical to the system's success. If you select the wrong system or design, or install, operate or maintain the system improperly, it can fail, which could result in pollution of your property and that of others. You could also be fined.

Because homeowners are responsible for conduction or contracting for maintenance of a system, they should be involved in selecting the technology, or type of system used.

State Regulations top

The Texas legislature passed a law (HB 1875) in 1987 to regulate on-site sewage facility (OSSF) systems statewide. The law called for regional and local governments - such as counties, cities, river authorities and special districts - to implement and enforce on-site sewage regulations with approval and oversight by the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC).

Although the state law has since been modified and expanded, its basic intent remains: The state sets minimum standards, and local authorities can adopt more stringent rules if the TNRCC approves them.

Obtaining a Permit top

Before building, altering, extending or operating an on-site sewage facility, a person must have a permit and approved plans from the TNRCC or its authorized agent.

The permit process comprises nine steps. Follow all nine steps when installing an on-site system. The various players - site evaluator, designer, installer and designated representative - should work as checks and balances to ensure that an appropriate technology is built at the site. These steps are a safeguard to ensure that the homeowner receives a quality product.

Step 1. The site and soil are evaluated top

A qualified site evaluator must conduct a site and soil evaluation. This person prepares a report on the soil conditions and site survey, and locates structures on the property that have specified separation distances from on-site systems. Table IV lists important separation distances for on-site systems.

Step 2. A sewage treatment system is chosen top

The choice of OSSF system is based on the site and soil conditions found during the evaluation. Choosing the appropriate technology is critical to the system's success.

Each on-site sewage system consists of a treatment component, which initially treats the wastewater, and a land application component, which distributes the wastewater to the soil. To determine possible land application options, compare the key conditions of the site and soil to the requirements for the various system.

The type of land application system you choose determines what kind of treatment system can be used. To obtain approval for the system you have chosen, you must contact a designated representative or TNRCC regional office. Examples of treatment options include septic tanks, aerobic treatment units, sand filters, trickling filters and constructed wetlands. The treatment system chosen depends on the water quality requirements of the land application system, which is chosen to accommodate the site and soil conditions. Final selection of the system components should be completed in cooperation with the professional designer.

Step 3. A plan is developed for the system top

The system must be planned by a person authorized by the permitting authority under current regulation. Installers can normally plan standard or conventional systems, including gravel-filled standard drain fields, unlined evaprotranspiration beds, gravelless pipe and leaching chambers.

In some instances, homeowners can design their systems with help from the local designated representatives. Systems that are more complex - including surface application, low-pressure dosing, mounds and non-standard systems - require professionally developed planning materials.

This table specifies which systems must have planning materials submitted by a professional designer and what level of installer may install it.

A professional designer is either a registered professional engineer (PE) or a registered sanitarian (RS) licensed to practice in Texas with experience in designing on-site wastewater systems. Several local jurisdictions in Texas require that the planning materials of all systems be submitted by a PE or RS.

A PE or RS is also required when submitting planning materials for:

Lots smaller than 1 acre when served by an individual water system (well), those less than 1/2 acre when served by a public water supply (no individual wells) and those platted after January 1, 1988.

Non-standard and other more complex systems specified as required in table 3.

All systems in the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone.

Any on-site sewage system serving manufactured housing communities, recreational vehicle parks or multi-unit residential developments owned or controlled by a person who rents or leases such space.

Any OSSF for a structure not exempted by the Texas Engineering Practice Act. Such systems must have planning materials submitted only by a registered professional engineer.

Systems needing variances from the rules.

Step 4. An application and planning materials are submitted to the permitting authority top

A permit application and planning materials must be prepared and submitted in the property owner's name and on a form provided by the permitting authority.

Step 5. The permitting authority reviews the application and planning materials. top

The permitting authority reviews the application, site and soil evaluation, the type and size of the system selected, and other supporting documents required for a permit to be issued. The review ensures that rules in the jurisdiction are followed and that good engineering practices are used. An agency representative may visit the site to verify the application accuracy and completeness.

Step 6. The permitting authority grants an authroization to construct. top

An authorization to construct must be granted by the permitting authority before building can begin. This authorization should include specific instructions on the number and schedule of inspections and at what stages of construction the inspections are required.

Step 7. The system is built. top

Licensed installers or their apprentices can begin building the system only after receiving the authorization to construct. The system must be built according to the approved plans and permit application . Any changes to the system must be approved by the permitting authority before the changes are made.

In some cases, a new review will be needed, such as when site conditions are different from those submitted in the planning materials. The level of certification (Installer I or II) required for construction depends on the type of system.

Step 8. The permitting authority inspects the system. top

The system must be inspected by the permitting authority at the appropriate stages of construction according to the type of system being installe3d. Inspections must be scheduled in advance and according to local policies. They should be comprehensive, covering all parts of the system.

The inspection should be based on the approved application and plans, current regulations, and accepted engineering practices. There should be no surprises during the inspection if the approved application was detailed and complete, and the system was built according to the approved application.

Step 9. The permitting authority issues a notice of approval or license to operate. top

A notice of approval or license to operate is issued by the permitting authority after the competed system has passed all inspections.

Inspect System Frequently:

Measure or have an inspector measure the sludge build up annually. Have your tanks pumped out on inspector's suggestion.

Know you system:

Be sure to get complete records, reports, and drawings of your system when you buy your home.

Avoid Conflicts:

Don't build over your system. Patios, Driveways, and out buildings should be built well clear of an existing system to avoid interferring with the systems operation.

Know your chemicals:

Is your clothes and dish soap septic system safe? High phosphorous soaps cause the most problems in contaminated water systems.

Know your plants:

Don't plant shrubs and trees near your system or drain field. Roots will eventually find their way into your system and cause infinite problems.

Grasses are GREAT! The natural transpiration of the plant is a natural mechanism of taking water from the ground,