Septic systems can be called by several different names, including onsite wastewater treatment systems, individual sewage disposal systems and private sewage systems. These onsite wastewater disposal systems 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.
Proper system maintenance is essential. It is recommended that the average household septic system be inspected and pumped at least every three years by a septic system professional. Septic pumpers are licensed under the BOH. Please call the office for an up-to-date list of licensed pumpers.
Remember- Everything that goes down the drain effects the way the septic system works.
Do not flush anything besides human waste and toilet paper. Never flush:
- Cooking grease or oil
- Flushable wipes
- Photographic solutions
- Feminine hygiene products
- Dental floss
- Cigarette butts
- Coffee grounds
- Cat litter
- Paper towels
- Household chemicals like gasoline, oil, pesticides, antifreeze, and paint or paint thinners
Helpful websites on septic 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
A Title 5 Inspection report is good for 2 years. If accompanied by pumping records showing the system has been pumped at least once a year since the last inspection, a title 5 inspection is valid for 3 years.
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