Title Five: Septic Management Program
Onsite disposal systems, including septic tanks and cesspools, provide an effective means of treating household sewage. However, older, poorly designed systems, inadequate maintenance and many other conditions can affect the performance of such systems. Ineffective treatment of sewage can threaten the environment by polluting local wetlands and groundwater supplies; moreover, failing systems can harm public health by exposing residents to harmful microorganisms carried in wastewater.
For these reasons the health division implemented a comprehensive septic management program.
This program includes:
- Enforcement of Title Five of the State Environmental Code
- Guidance for residents on Title Five requirements for real estate transactions and other situations where the regulations apply.
- A database of all residences connected to on site disposal systems
- Public outreach on system maintenance and inspections
- Information on alternative systems
When do I need a Title 5 Inspections?
According to Title 5 regulations, all subsurface disposal systems must be inspected by a state-licensed inspector under the following conditions:
- Whenever real estate is sold
- If there is a change in use, i.e., a single family residence is converted to a shelter or to a business
- If there is an increase in design flow, such as adding a bedroom
If you have any questions about the need for an inspection, please contact the Health Department at 508-261-7366.
What happens if my waste disposal system fails inspection?
If the subsurface disposal system fails an inspection, the owner normally has up to two years in which to correct the problem. However, the Board of Health may require that the owner address the problem within a shorter period should the failing system present a threat to the public health and the environment. If the property is sold, the new owner assumes responsibility for the failed septic system. The new owner may make an agreement with the town to connect to the municipal sewer system after taking ownership.
If my system fails, am I required to connect to the sewer system?
Yes. Title Five requires that owners of septic systems meet the standard of “maximum feasible compliance” with the requirements of the State Code. The level of compliance that may be met–that is, whether the system is simply repaired, replaced, or the home connected to the sewer–will depend on the characteristics of the property involved and the availability of the sewer.
If the sewer is not available near the home, the homeowner must apply to the Board of Health for a variance and provide for approval by the Board of Health a design for a new system that meets the requirements of Title Five. Alternative systems to those specified in the state code must also be approved by the Board of Health.
Does the Board of Health do Title Five Inspections for homeowners?
No. Individual homeowners must hire their own licensed inspector. A list of state licensed Title 5 inspectors can be found at http://www.neiwpcc.org/training/title5approved.asp