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You are here: Home / Licensing / OSSF / Permitting an On-Site Sewage Facility

Permitting an On-Site Sewage Facility

Overview of permitting on-site sewage facilities producing 5,000 gallons per day or less of domestic sewage. Provides guidance on how to select the proper system and tips to use in selecting an installer.

A person must hold a permit and an approved plan to construct, alter, repair, extend, or operate an on-site sewage disposal facility.

Is a permit always required?

With few exceptions as detailed below, a permit is required to construct, install, alter, extend, or repair an On-site Sewage Facility (OSSF). Always check with your local permitting authority. Local permitting programs can be more stringent than the state law.

Texas law does allow for an OSSF to be exempt from permitting if the OSSF:

  • serves a single family residence on a tract of land that is 10 acres or larger,
  • is not causing a nuisance or polluting groundwater,
  • all parts of the OSSF are at least 100 feet from the property line,
  • the effluent is disposed of on the property, and
  • the single family residence is the only dwelling located on the tract of land.

A permit is also not required for emergency repairs, as defined in Exit the TCEQ30 TAC Subchapter D, 285.35 (replacing tank lids, inlet and outlet devices, and repair of solid lines). However, emergency repairs must be reported to the permitting authority within 72 hours after repairs have begun.

Even if a permit is not required, the OSSF must meet Exit the TCEQminimum state standards.

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I do not have a permit for my OSSF. Do I need one?

Maybe. If the OSSF is grand fathered or exempt from permitting requirements, then a permit is not required.

An OSSF is grand fathered if it:

  • was installed:
    • before a local program had an authorized program, or
    • before September 1, 1989, whichever is earlier.
  • has a treatment and disposal facility, and
  • has had no significant increase in its use.

An OSSF is exempt from permitting if the OSSF:

  • serves a single family residence on a tract of land that is 10 acres or larger and is not required to have a permit from the local permitting authority,
  • the OSSF is not causing a nuisance or polluting groundwater,
  • all parts of the OSSF are at least 100 feet from the property line,
  • the effluent is disposed of on the property, and
  • the single family residence is the only dwelling located on the tract of land.

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How do I obtain a permit?

You will need to contact the local permitting authority where the OSSF is located. In order for the permitting authority to approve the permit, Exit the TCEQplanning materials must be submitted with the appropriate application used by the authorized authority. If there is no authorized authority for your area, submit the TCEQ application found at the Related Link above right.

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How long does the permitting authority have to review my permit application?

The permitting authority must either approve or deny the planning materials submitted with a permit application within 30 days after they receive it.

If the application is denied, the permitting authority must tell you in writing why the planning materials were denied. You may appeal the permitting authority's decision to the local governmental entity authorized by the TCEQ (e.g., Commissioner's Court, City Council, River Authority Board, Public Health District Board, etc).

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Which system should I select?

Before you can select an OSSF which will determine the detail of planning materials that will be submitted with a permit application, a preconstruction site evaluation must be conducted. Beginning September 1, 2002, the site evaluation must be conducted by either a licensed site evaluator or a Exit the TCEQlicensed professional engineer. The evaluation includes conducting a soil analysis in the proposed disposal area, conducting a survey of the entire lot, and identifying other criteria necessary to determine the site's suitability for a standard OSSF system.

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Where can I obtain a roster of professional engineers, professional sanitarians, or professional geo-scientists?

The links provided below will take you off the TCEQ Web server. These links are provided solely as a courtesy. Because the TCEQ has no control over the posting of material to these sites, the agency cannot take responsibility for their continued validity and maintenance.

Can I install my own OSSF?

Yes. However, there may be some systems that will not be sold to a property owner since they must be installed by a factory representative.

If you compensate any person during any phase of the OSSF installation (e.g., hire someone to do backhoe work or trenching), the individual performing the work must be a licensed installer of the correct level, except:

  • A licensed electrician, or
  • A person who delivers a treatment or pump tank to a site

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What laws and rules govern permitting?

The links provided below will take you off the TCEQ Web server. These links are provided solely as a courtesy. Because the TCEQ has no control over the posting of material to these sites, the agency cannot take responsibility for their continued validity and maintenance.

Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 366, Subchapter D is the state law that governs the OSSF permitting program.

Title 30 Texas Administrative Code (TAC), Chapter 285, Subchapter A contains the rules for the OSSF permitting.

Title 30 Texas Administrative Code (TAC), Chapter 285, Subchapter D contains the rules for planning, construction, and installation of an OSSF.

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