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Getting a Permit for an On-Site Sewage Facility - Such as a Septic System

Permitting for on-site sewage facilities producing 5,000 gallons per day or less of domestic sewage, including septic systems, pump-out stations, holding tanks, and hauling systems. Guidance on how to select the proper system and an installer.

A permit and an approved plan are required to construct, alter, repair, extend, or operate an on-site sewage disposal facility.

What are some tips I can follow when I have an OSSF installed? (See the OSSF advice web page)
My OSSF is failing. What do I need to do? (See the OSSF advice web page)

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 (replacing tank lids, inlet and outlet devices, and repair of solid lines), but they must be reported to the permitting authority within 72 hours after repairs have begun. Emergency repairs are defined in 30 TAC Subchapter D, 285.35 Exit the TCEQ

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

Maybe. If the OSSF is grand-fathered or exempt from permitting requirements, then you don't need a permit.

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 it:

  • 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.

Applications and planning materials must be submitted to the permitting authority. To find your permitting authority, search by the county the OSSF is to be located. The TCEQ regional office will be the permitting authority in locations where a local jurisdiction has not been authorized.

The permitting authority must either approve or deny the planning materials you submitted with your permit application within 30 days after receipt.

If the application and planning materials are denied, the permitting authority must send you a written explanation. You may appeal this 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).

The OSSF you select will determine the detail of planning materials to submit with your permit application. Arrange for a preconstruction site evaluation by a licensed site evaluator or a licensed professional engineer Exit the TCEQ. The evaluation includes conducting a survey of the entire lot and a soil analysis in the proposed disposal area, and identifying other criteria necessary to determine suitability for a standard OSSF system.

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.

Yes. However, there may be some systems that you, the property owner, can't buy because 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

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 Exit the TCEQ is the state law that governs the OSSF permitting program.

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

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