Utah regulations require that all wastewater be disposed to an approved sewer or onsite wastewater (septic) system.

Onsite Wastewater

An onsite wastewater system is commonly called a septic system. Wherever there is not a public sewer available, an onsite wastewater system is needed. An onsite wastewater system consists of a septic tank and a drainfield or leachfield. The tank separates the waste into liquid and solid layers and lets the liquid out into the ground through the drainfield. Microbes in the ground clean the dirty water as it moves down through the soil. The septic tank is always full of waste and only needs to be pumped once the layers of solid material reach a certain thickness.

Permitting Process 

Property owners must obtain a permit to install an onsite wastewater system. Utah regulations require that certified wastewater contractors be involved throughout the permitting process.

A series of steps are necessary during the permitting process:

  • Site Assessment: The first step of the process is to determine if a particular site is feasible for an onsite wastewater system. A State Certified Wastewater contractor must first analyze the soil and groundwater conditions of the site. Percolation tests may also be required, dependent upon soil types. An Environmental Health Scientist from the Health Department then visits the site to verify the contractor’s information, and to check for other concerns such as bedrock, slope, surface water, etc.

  • Construction Permit: Once the site is approved, a Construction Permit needs to be obtained. In order to obtain this permit, an onsite wastewater contractor needs to design an onsite system that will support the proposed building. The contractor must design the system to meet current code and site assessment requirements. Beginning construction of an onsite system without this permit is not allowed by Utah State Rule.  Once a construction permit is issued, a building permit then can be obtained from your city or county.

    • The process of Site Assessment through Construction Permit can be completed in as little as one week if conditions are favorable.  An average time frame is about 3 weeks. Groundwater will slow the process down–sometimes up to a year.  

  • Operating Permit: Once the system is installed, it needs to be inspected to make sure it matches the approved design, and meets code requirements. In the past, anyone could install a system, but in the future, only certain contractors will be allowed to do so.

  • Repair Permit: Permits are necessary for any type of construction of an onsite wastewater system. This includes repairs to failing or malfunctioning systems.


It is recommended to have your tank inspected by a licensed Liquid Waste Operator every 3-5 years, and then pumped as needed. Some families need their tank pumped every 2-3 years while other families every 15-20 years. Pumping frequency is dependent upon water usage, food consumption, DNA, etc. The timing is unknown unless it is inspected.

Additives are not recommended as the system cares for itself when properly used.  Do not add large amounts of chemicals like bleach–small amounts for cleaning are fine. Adding excessive amounts of water to the system can greatly shorten the life of the system. Maximum water usage is indicated in the permit.

When the tank is pumped, 100% of the contents should be removed. Leaving any part of the contents defeats the purpose of the pumping. After being pumped, the tank should be filled with clean water because the tank works best when completely full of liquid.

Spending a little money every few years can save you thousands of dollars in repairs later. 








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