Septic System Permits
On-site septic system permits are processed through Clallam County Environmental Health Services (CCEH). Through the permitting process, the On-site Program works to ensure that septic systems are located, designed and installed correctly following Clallam County Code. These efforts reduce the risk of contaminating groundwater and surface water, reduce the risk to people from exposure to untreated sewage, and help extend the working life of septic systems.
A Site Registration is the first step of the septic permit process and is filed when the soils on a site are evaluated to determine the type of septic system that would work best on the site.
Septic Permits (see below) are required when new septic systems are installed, or when systems are repaired or expanded.
System Status Reports are evaluations of existing septic systems to see if they are functioning properly or are in need of any maintenance 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.
Septic Permits are required when new septic systems are installed, or when systems are repaired or expanded. 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 Clallam County Environmental Health Services (CCEH)
How to Obtain a Septic Permit
- Contact a licensed Septic System Designer (PDF) to begin the process.
- Your designer will contact the CCEH to schedule a 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.)
- The designer will submit plans, construction permit application, and fees (see current Fee Schedule (PDF)) to the CCEH. 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 for revision.
- An approved permit is given to the designer, who will send it to you along with the approved plans. A new septic system construction permit expires three years from the date it is issued.
Installing the Septic System
After the septic permit is approved, the system must be installed by a licensed Septic System Installer (PDF).
Exception: With an additional fee a homeowner may install their own conventional gravity system if they are the owner and resident of the property, and install one such system per calendar year. This still requires a design by a licensed designer and an installation inspection by both the county and the designer. Homeowners must follow the 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.
For all installations both the Designer and the CCEH must be notified before 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.
Determining the Size of 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 may be as small as 10 by 40 feet or as large as 50 by 100 feet but requires a minimum of two drain lines. New systems also require a reserve area that is the same size as the initial drainfield. This reserve area is designated in case the system fails and the drainfield needs to be replaced.
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 (except for commercial systems), and a repair permit expires six months after it is issued. Soils are tested by a designer as part of the repair process.
Using the Septic System
Once 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 (PDF) are licensed by Clallam County Environmental Health and provide the service of routine inspections and maintenance of septic systems. Septic Tank Pumpers (PDF) 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 DIY homeowner 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) informational web page. To become a certified homeowner inspector visit the Septics 201 Homeowner Inspection Program page to register as a new user.
Decommissioning a Septic System
State Department of Health rules (WAC 246-272A-0300) require that persons permanently abandoning a septic tank, seepage pit, cesspool, or other sewage containers shall:
- Have the septage removed by an approved pumper
- Remove or destroy the lid
- Fill the void with soil
Once a septic system is no longer in use it is very important to properly decommission all of the septic components, especially the septic tank which requires "pump, crush and fill" for safety reasons. A septic system decommissioning permit can be applied for at the Environmental Health office and documentation (receipts and/or photos) of all work done by a professional must be provided for finalization of the permit. It is important Environmental Health is made aware when septic systems are decommissioned in order to update our Department of Health mandated septic system inventory and database records.
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. Community Systems designed to treat more than 3,500 gallons per day are managed by the State Department of Health's Larger On-site Sewage System (LOSS) Program.
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 strength 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. Note the difference in permit fees as commercial systems are designed by gallons per day of water usage.
Determining Whether 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.
Inside the City Limits
The CCEH 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 connections available 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 CCEH or your City utility department for more information about your individual situation.