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Tri-County Health Department recommends that an STA be left largely untouched by homeowners. Irrigated landscaping is not recommended, since it has the possibility to saturate an STA causing the septic system to fail prematurely. You may consider planting buffalo grass or other natural grasses which do not require irrigation. Mow any grasses planted on the STA area regularly. Horses or other livestock should not be placed on an STA, because compaction of the soils may occur causing premature failure of your absorption area. We also have a guide on septic care and maintenance.
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An OWTS permit is required for new installations, expansions, and repairs (with some exceptions). To obtain a permit, the following will be required for new systems/new soil treatment areas (STA’s): completed permit application, payment of permit fee, system design, soils information, test pit logs, percolation tests (if used), and a site plan. Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) will accept the applications at our Environmental Health Offices. TCHD staff will then review the information and make a site visit. If the application, design (if applicable) and site meet our requirements, TCHD will issue a permit to construct, expand or repair the OWTS.
A Colorado Licensed Professional Engineer must design a system if any of the following occur: (a) the following soil types are identified within 4 feet below the depth of the proposed soil treatment area (STA): 0, 3A, 4, 4A, 5, R-O, R-1, R-2; treatment levels TL2, TL2N, TL3, and TL3N as specified in tables 10 and 11 of Regulation O-17 (b) groundwater, bedrock, or other limiting layer is present within 4 feet below the depth of the proposed STA, (c) the ground slope at the area of the proposed STA is greater than 20%, or (d) the proposed system is a commercial system, (e) the proposed system utilizes pressure distribution.
Review our Use Permit Questions and Answers and visit our On-Site Waste Treatment System page for more information and related forms.
Use permit inspections must be done by a "third party" certified Use Permit Inspector. These inspectors do not work for Tri-County Health Department (TCHD). These inspectors are certified by the National Association of Wastewater Technicians (NAWT).
The seller of the property is required to obtain a use permit prior to the sale of the property (see question #3).
Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) does not have a minimum lot size requirement. Local planning agencies do have minimum lot sizes in their zoning codes. They typically recommend a minimum of one acre for lots supplied by central water and 2.5 acres for lots with wells.
Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) requires that septic tanks be inspected every four years and pumped when scum and sludge accumulate to greater than 25% of the effective volume of the tank. Dosing tanks shall be inspected and pumped if sludge accumulation is observed. If your OWTS receives higher than average use as determined by your TCHD licensed cleaner, you may want to consider a more frequent pumping interval. All pumping and evaluation of septic tanks should be done by a licensed cleaner. We also have a guide on septic care and maintenance.
Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) generally allows connection to the existing septic system, provided the owner notifies TCHD in advance, and TCHD approves the connection. An inspection of the new plumbing and applicable fee(s) is required. Prior to final approval, the existing record drawing of the system must also be amended to show new buildings and plumbing. For more information, contact one of our four Environmental Health offices prior to starting your project.
Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) maintains online records for existing septic systems in Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas Counties which contain record drawings identifying OWTS locations. Please keep in mind that TCHD may not have records of all septic systems due to age or permit status. In this case it may be necessary to contact a licensed installer or a certified Use Permit inspector or surveyor to locate your system.
In this situation it would be best to have the system evaluated by a licensed septic contractor. If the damage is relatively minor such as damage to a single pipe or chamber, it likely will not require a permit, but the repair will need be done by a licensed contractor, and all repairs will need to be inspected by Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) prior to being covered. Inspection fees may apply. If the damage is more extensive such as damage to the tank or extensive damage to the soil treatment area (STA), it may require a repair permit. Consult with your contractor and TCHD.