What is an OWTS?
An OWTS (On-Site Wastewater Treatment System) is commonly referred to as a “septic system.” It consists of two main parts, the tank, and the Soil Treatment Area (STA). The tank collects and holds all wastewater from the house where any solid material is allowed to settle before going to the STA. The STA, also known as a leach field or leach lines, can use one of multiple methods to distribute the liquid from the tank (the effluent) through the soil to remove pathogens and purify the water.
What rules and regulations are used for septic systems?
The Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment uses On-Site Wastewater Treatment Systems Regulation No. VIII. This document lists all state and local regulations related to an On-Site Wastewater Treatment System. They can be found by going to On-Site Wastewater Treatment Systems Regulation No. VIII.
How do I fill out a permit application?
Residential and commercial permit applications are located under “Related Files” on the website/on the permit. Individuals need to fill out all the fields for property and contact information on the permit application. This also includes property size, address, parcel number, water source, owner name, email, and phone number.
Can I Install my own septic system?
Yes, if all components of the system comply with On-Site Wastewater Treatment Systems Regulation No. VIII. If homeowners plan to hire someone to install the system, the person or company must be licensed through the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment (PDPHE) to perform the work.
Where can I find my septic permit?
Click on Find Current Systems and input the property’s information, individuals should find permits tied to that address/parcel number.
What if a septic system is not permitted, or the permit cannot be found?
Contact the local health department to help locate the permit. If a permit cannot be located, the system will have to be documented. Once documented, it will be uploaded to public records for easy access.
What if a septic system is failing?
If a homeowner suspects the septic system is failing, call the local health department or a licensed On-Site Wastewater Treatment System professional to evaluate the functionality of the system and attempt to diagnose the malfunction. If a neighbor’s septic system is failing, call us at 719-583-4307. to report.
What are signs of a failing septic system?
A septic system can fail in several ways. Some of the most common signs include wastewater backing up into the home, pooling or ponding above the tank or the Soil Treatment Area (STA), strong sewage odor, or high fluid levels in the holding tank. If homeowners notice any of these symptoms, call the local health department 719-583-4307 or a licensed OWTS professional for the next steps.
Property Sale/Purchase FAQs
How to sell a property with a septic system.
For a successful title transfer of the property, it needs to undergo a Transfer of Title Inspection. This will involve the system tank being pumped by a licensed On-Site Wastewater Treatment System Cleaner. Then, the system needs to be inspected by a NAWT (National Association of Wastewater Technicians) Certified Inspector. This inspection helps identify potential problems with the On-Site Wastewater Treatment System and correct them before the closing date. This process protects both the buyer and seller in the title transfer process.
How to install a septic system on vacant land.
Once a plot of land is purchased and an individual wishes to build on it, they will need to fill out and submit a Residential or Commercial Permit Application for a septic system. This will involve a site and soil evaluation to determine the best On-Site Wastewater Treatment System for the property. If the site and soil evaluation shows good conditions for a “traditional” gravity flow On-Site Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS) and a permit for installation can be issued. If there is not a good area for a traditional system, an engineer design will be required for the septic system. Once the installation permit is approved and paid, the installation of the OWTS may begin. Once the installation is complete, a use permit will be issued, and the permit including a map of the system on the property will be uploaded to the Pueblo County Assessor’s website.
Who are the registered On-Site Wastewater Treatment System cleaners/professionals for Pueblo County?
How often should a septic tank be cleaned out? What is the recommended frequency for other system maintenance?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends a household septic tank be cleaned out every 3-5 years, or more frequently if needed.
In addition to cleaning out the tank, homeowners should know what kind of system they have, to determine what routine maintenance is needed. Routine maintenance is key to maximizing the lifespan of the system and should be performed at least as frequent as it is pumped. Any time someone is unsure about their On-Site Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS), call the local health department and they can provide more information. When it comes to OWTS, a small amount of money now, can save thousands in the long-term.
Why is the septic control box alarming (buzzing and flashing)?
If the box connected to the septic is alarming (flashing red light or repeating buzzer), that means there is a problem with the system. It is recommended to contact a licensed On-Site Wastewater Treatment System professional immediately to determine the cause of the alarm and fix it. This helps prevent a system failure such as the septic backing up into the home.
Why are risers and inspection ports needed and what are they for?
Risers are rings that bring the lids of the tank to ground level. This allows for easy access to the tank for routine maintenance and pumping. The plastic caps that may be seen in the Soil Treatment Area are called inspection ports. These allow On-Site Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS) professionals to inspect the system to ensure the Soil Treatment Area is operating as intended. Both components allow for easy access to otherwise buried and hard to reach parts of the OWTS.
What are the small pipes next to the inspection ports at the far end of the Soil Treatment Area?
Those are called flush valves and if one has them, it means that they have a pump installed in the On-Site Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS). It is recommended to periodically open the ball valves on those and activate the pump to help clear any debris or settlement that may be present in the Soil Treatment Area. This is called “flushing” the system and is just another way to help extend the life of the OWTS.
I don’t know anything about my septic system. What should I do?
Call the Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment at 719-583-4307 and they can provide individuals with information about their system, including any permits, repair history, and educational information. Read about septic on our website.