The subsurface sewage disposal system program regulates the installation and operation of septic systems within the district. The Connecticut Public Health Code mandates that all sewage be disposed of by subsurface sewage disposal systems, also known as septic systems, or by connection to public sewers. As part of that mandate, the North Central District Health Department permits and oversees all installations of septic systems within the district. In order to ensure compliance, the district will issue a permit to discharge only after all inspections have been performed and the installation deemed to be in compliance with public health code regulations. If a septic system ceases to function properly and creates a public health nuisance, the permit to discharge is revoked and the district enforces the public health code requiring the repair or replacement of the malfunctioning system issuing a new permit to discharge after the repair or replacement is complete.
- Water Softener System Backwash
- Private Drinking Water Wells
- Geothermal and Irrigation Wells
When a property is first selected for development and the determination is made that public sewers are not available to service the development, septic systems become the alternative. To begin the process of evaluating a site for septic systems, an application, along with the proper fees, must be filed with the district and soil tests must be conducted on the site. Upon receiving the application and fees an appointment will be made to conduct all soil tests on the site.
The applications can also be found in the Subsurface Sewage Disposal System (Septic Systems) section of the "Forms" page on our website.
Please note that as part of the soil testing process for all new subdivisions, the applicant will be required to provide the services of a State of Connecticut licensed engineer who will be responsible for conducting the soil and percolation tests. However, before the evaluation of the site can begin, an overall site plan proposal prepared by an engineer (recommended scale: one inch to 100 feet or one inch to 40 feet must be submitted to this office along with the application packet and appropriate fees. The plan must indicate the following:
- The location of proposed property lines, houses, proposed primary/reserve septic system areas, and proposed well sites (if applicable).
- The location of existing wells and septic systems immediately adjacent to or on the site.
- Preliminary soil deep test pits and percolation tests conducted by the engineer.
- Topography, significant landmarks, wetland boundaries, streams, ponds, etc.
- Any information pertaining to the basis for the proposed septic system locations; i.e., preliminary soil deep test pit data, percolation test results, S.C.S. soil types, ground water data, etc.
After reviewing the above information, if the information submitted is satisfactory, the application for site testing will be accepted and soil test date will be scheduled with the applicant or the applicant's engineer. The applicant shall have a representative of the engineering firm who is familiar with the proposed plan present on site at the time of testing. If the engineering firm's representative is not present on the site, no test will be witnessed by the North Central District Health Department. The role of the North Central District Health Department is not to conduct the soil test but to witness the soil test. The applicant's engineer shall be responsible for locating and excavating soil deep test pits and recording data. At least two deep test pits are required on each lot; one each in the primary and reserve areas. The engineer shall conduct at least one percolation test on each lot. Site conditions may require additional deep test pits and percolation tests at the discretion of the engineer. The applicant/engineer is responsible for the back-filling the test pits and percolation holes. Also, in order to conduct a proper soil test and evaluation, the following must be done on site:
- Lot boundary lines must be clearly marked.
- Proposed house locations must be staked.
- A backhoe must be on site for the excavation of observation pits (ten feet deep). These holes are necessary for the soil profile study as required by Section 19-13-B103f(d)(2) of the Connecticut Public Health Code.
- The lot must be prepared and made accessible for the backhoe to get to the test area.
- A sufficient water supply (not less than ten gallons) in suitable, clean containers must be provided at the site of each percolation hole (at least two) for the engineer to conduct the test.
- It is the responsibility of the applicant to have the percolation test holes dug (usually 36 inches deep) at the time of inspection. This is usually done with a post hole digger or long handled shovel.
If for any reason you have not been able to prepare the lot as indicated above, you must contact our office before the sanitarian leaves to conduct the test.
A word on Groundwater Monitoring
During site testing, if there is evidence of ground water, actual water, or mottling less than three feet below the ground surface, the public health code requires the applicant/engineer to install ground water monitoring pipes in the proposed septic system areas; primary and reserve and monitor the groundwater during the groundwater monitoring season as set forth by the public health code. Generally, the season runs from February 1 through May 31. However, Ground water monitoring may be concluded when the State Department of Public Health or the District has determined that ground water levels are at or above mean maximum levels, as represented by the U. S. Geological Survey, for that area.
If monitoring is required, the ground water monitoring pipes shall be placed four feet into existing grade with as little disturbance of the surrounding soil as possible. The monitoring pipes shall be field marked and located on the site plan. Reading of the monitoring pipes must be recorded on at least a weekly basis. The applicant's engineer shall be responsible for recording the ground water data and upon completion, this information shall be submitted to our office for review.
Upon completion of the site investigation, a soil test report will be mailed to the applicant and the engineer indicating the results of the test.
Once the testing phase is completed, the engineer begins the planning phase of the subdivision. At this juncture, a subdivision plan is prepared and submitted to the district for review along with the application for review and appropriate fees. The purpose for preparation of the engineering report and detail plan is to identify site limitations and clearly demonstrate how the engineer proposes to overcome the limiting conditions. Therefore, it is essential that the design engineer personally inspect the property, observe and review soil test data with the sanitarian prior to designing a sewage disposal system. The engineer should consider comments and recommendations made by this office and listed on soil test report. Basic design concepts agreed upon by the engineer and sanitarian avoid unnecessary delays in the review and approval process and limit the number of revisions required.
The applicant or engineer is to provide at least two copies of subdivision plan to the District. The following is a list of items that must be included on the subdivision plan in order to properly evaluate the plan:
- Original signature and seal of design engineer on each copy of plans (Blue print of seal and
signature is unacceptable)
- Plan drawn to scale; 1" = 40' or 50'. "Key" or location maps are recommended.
- Mailing address of engineer
- Lot sizes with dimensions of property lines
- Lot numbers or assessors map block and lot identification
- Legend to identify various indicators of stone walls, test pits, wells, hay bales etc.
- Existing contours
- Proposed contours showing fill extensions, cuts, walls
- Septic tank location
- Pump chamber location, chamber cross section showing manhole, float controls, discharge volume
- Leaching system layout (trenches, pits, or galleries) with dimensions on center
- North arrow (may be true, magnetic or assumed, note on plan)
- Number of bedrooms
- Required leaching area by Code. Example: 4 bedroom home, 15 min/inch perc = 900 sq. ft. Required Minimum Leaching System Spread, including criteria.
- Written description of leaching system proposed indicating effective area provided. Example: 3 rows of leaching trench, 75' long, 3.0’ wide = 675 sq. ft.
- Soil test data shown on plan including deep test hole soil descriptions and all time and measurement readings of the percolation test
- Test hole locations, including perc test holes. Show all tests
- Well location with protective radius. Recommend increasing minimum 75' distance for private residential well where possible to provide increased protection. Locate well to avoid condemnation of suitable leaching areas on adjacent properties.
- Locate wells, septic systems and other potential sources of pollution on adjacent properties. If none exist, note on plan.
- Show building footing drain discharges (90% of homes have foundation/footing drains), storm drains in roads, streams, brooks, drainage swales, swamps, ponds or other watercourses
- Identify ledge rock outcrops, wet surface areas, old bury holes, filled-in foundations, etc.
- Show existing structures on same lot
- Locate public water lines in road and show water service line to building
- Locate human habitations on adjacent lots
- Indicate driveway location
- Identify reserve leaching area by layout of a leaching system of acceptable size
- Revision dates
The Approval Process
Once the plans have been reviewed, if revisions are needed, the plans will be rejected and a rejection letter sent to the engineer along with notes on the revision needed. If the plan is found to meet the requirements of the public health code, the plan is approved and an approval packet is sent to the applicant with copies being forwarded to the engineer and the town. In order to avoid delays, it is critical that we have the most accurate contact information from the applicant.
Backwashing softener regenerate to a septic system is specifically prohibited by the CT Public Health Code Technical Standards for Subsurface Sewage Disposal systems. Developers and homeowner are usually unaware of this prohibition and it often happens that such backwash discharges are plumbed to the septic system, potentially leading to the following problems:
§ hydraulic overloading of marginally sized septic systems,
§ spalling of cement in concrete septic tanks, baffles, drywells and D-boxes, due to the introduction of salt or potassium chloride contained in the backwash discharge, and
§ sludge buildup in the leaching system when significant levels of iron and manganese are present in the raw water, possibly leading to leaching field failure.
§ groundwater contamination
Backwashing of a softener to a septic system is specifically prohibited in the CT Public Health Code section 19-13-B103 and in the Technical Standards for Subsurface Sewage Disposal Systems. Discharging the backwash to a separate dedicated system is a viable option and is allowed under the authority of the CT DEP, pursuant to Section 22a-430 of the CT General Statutes.
Therefore, in order to protect the septic system and meet both DPH and DEP requirements, the North Central District Health Department requires that the discharge of these dedicated systems be directed to a separate leaching area capable of receiving the amount of wastewater discharged by the softening system. The leaching area usually consists of a 12-16 feet of plastic infiltrators installed in stone. The system must be greater than seventy five (75) feet away from the well and twenty five (25) feet away from any portion of the septic system. This separating distance will avoid contamination of the drinking water supply and the overloading of the septic leaching system.
While the construction of these dedicated systems are not issued permits and are not regulated by this office the well and septic system are. So in an effort to meet DPH & DEP requirements but at the same time protect your septic system and well, we highly recommend that you contract with a licensed contractor to install the system for you or contact our office for instructions on doing so. In any event, our office must be notified to ensure proper setback requirements to the well and septic are met.