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Onsite (Septic) Permitting

This section is about the permits and other documents relating to septic systems that are processed through the Clallam County Environmental Health Division.

Septic Permits (see below) are required when new septic systems are installed, or when systems are repaired or expanded.

A Site Registration is filed when the soils on a site are evaluated and the type of septic system that would work best on the site is determined.

System Status Reports are evaluations of existing septic systems to see if they are working properly or are in need of any maintanance or repairs.

Operation and Maintenance (O&M) Agreements are required as part of the permit process for some of the more complicated types of septic systems.

Why are Septic Permits Required?

As more people move into rural areas, the need for proper sewage disposal becomes increasingly important in order to protect the health of the public, of the environment and of our drinking water supplies.  The permit process assures that septic systems are designed, installed and operated according to current codes.  This helps meet community health needs, and provides the owner with a septic system that meets their needs.

The installation, repair, or replacement of any portion of a septic system (septic tank, drainfield and related components) requires a permit issued by the Environmental Health Division of the Clallam County Department of Community Development.

How to Obtain a Septic Permit

  • Contact a licensed Septic System Designer to begin the process.
  • Your designer will contact the Environmental Health Division to schedule soils/site evaluation with the Environmental Health Specialist.  (Note: This is a built-in step in the septic construction permit process.  It can also be done separately if you do not plan to build within the next three years.  Please see section on Site Registrations.)
  • The designer will submit plans, construction permit application and fees to the Environmental Health Division.  With some types of systems, an O&M Agreement will also be required.  The Environmental Health Specialist will review the application and may visit the site again.  If corrections are needed, the application will be returned to the designer.
  • An approved permit is given to the designer, who will send it to you along with the approved plans.  A construction permit expires three years from the date it is issued.

Installing the Septic System
After the septic permit is approved, the system should be installed by a certified Septic System Installer.

Exception:  Homeowners may install their own conventional gravity system if they are the owner and resident of the property, and install only one system per calendar year. This still requires a design by a licensed designer and county approval and inspection. Homeowners must follow design specifications. If the system is installed incorrectly, it will not be approved and may need to be re-installed - which can cost thousands of dollars.

Both the Designer and the Environmental Health Division must be notified when installation begins.  The designer needs to inspect the system at various stages of construction and before final cover in order for the system to receive final approval.

Using the Septic System
When the system has been installed, inspected, and approved, it is ready for use.  Remember that it needs continued maintenance and regular pumping in order to work properly.  State regulations require that homeowners inspect and maintain their septic system to ensure it is functioning properly. Septic system Maintenance Providers are licensed by Clallam County Environmental Health and provide the service of routine inspections and maintenance of septic systems. Septic tank pumpers are also permitted by Clallam County Environmental Health. For some systems, an Operation and Maintenance (O&M) Agreement is needed. Environmental Health has developed a homeowner “do it yourself” inspection certification program called Septics 201 for homeowners who wish to inspect their own septic system.  To see if your septic system qualifies for you to be able to receive training to do your own septic system inspection in Clallam County, read the Summary of Septic System Inspection Requirements.  To learn more about this program please visit our Septics 201: Homeowner Do-It-Yourself (DIY) infomational web page.

Repairing a Septic System
A repair may replace all or part of a failing septic system.  No reserve area is required for a repair permit, though it is still highly recommended. The fee is less than a new or expansion permit, and a repair permit expires six months after it is issued.

Community Septic Systems
A community septic system serves more than one home, on one or more lots.  A community system may serve a duplex, or an entire subdivision (hundreds of homes).  For larger systems, the developer usually has the system designed, permitted, and the drainfield installed (but not the septic tanks).  A homeowner may need to get a septic tank placement permit, and have their tank installed and connected to the system when they build their home.

Commercial Septic Systems
Commercial systems often have to accommodate either a very low flow, such as a small office, or a very high output, such as a shopping center.  Generally, commercial systems have stronger waste than residential septic systems.  This often requires special treatment of the sewage.  The design may be different, but the permit process is essentially the same as for residential systems.

What if I only want to know if my site/soils can support a Septic System?
Property owners and prospective purchasers should understand a site's capabilities or limitations.  The Soil Conservation Service has soils maps of the county which describe the soil types and how well suited each one is for sewage disposal system.  These maps are not exact enough to rule out the need for a site specific evaluation.  This is accomplished through a Site Registration.  This is a built-in step in the septic construction permit process, but it can also be done separately, even prior to purchasing, with the landowner's permission.

How large an area will I need for the drainfield?
The size of the drainfield depends on the soil type and the number of bedrooms in your home.  The shape depends on soil depth and topography.  The drainfield area maybe as small as 10 x 40 feet or as large as 50 x 100 feet.  New systems also require a reserve area that is the same size as the initial drainfield.  This reserve area is in case the system fails and the drainfield needs to be replaced.

What if I live inside the City limits?
The Environmental Health Division is responsible for permitting all septic systems in Clallam County.  There are some areas within the city limits of Port Angeles, Sequim and Forks that do not have sewer hook-ups and are served by on-site sewage systems.  If you have a septic system and the City sewer is extended to serve your area, you typically do not need to hook-up to the sewer unless your septic system fails.  Please contact Environmental Health or your City utility department for more information about your individual situation.

Return to the Onsite Septic Systems main page.

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