The Private Water System and Household Sewage Treatment System Program ensures that septic systems and private wells are designed and installed under permit and in accordance with state and local regulations. Public Health also investigates sewage nuisance complaints and consults with homeowners on replacing their septic system.


When should I have my water tested?

Have your water tested whenever you notice a change in odor, taste or appearance, and also annually for routine quality monitoring.

Where can I get my water tested?

There are local private laboratories as well as mail order laboratories certified to perform various tests.

What should I test my water for?

While there are many things water can be tested for, it is impractical to test for everything. For routine monitoring, a bacteria test and nitrate test are recommended. If contamination is suspected, additional tests may be selected depending on the suspected contaminant.

What do the bacteria test results mean?

If the test is negative, it means there are no coliform bacteria present and the water supply should be free from disease-causing germs that might be in surface water. If the result is positive, it means coliform bacteria are present and the water supply may allow surface water germs to enter. Further investigation is necessary to determine if cleaning or some repair is needed.

What do the nitrate test results mean?

The standard for drinking water is no more than 10 mg/l of nitrate nitrogen. If the result is 10mg/l or higher, newborn infants, pregnant women and nursing mothers should stop consuming the water. Water treatment equipment for nitrate removal should be considered.

When do I need a permit?

A permit is required when a new water system is installed or when an existing system is upgraded, altered or abandoned and sealed. Minor repairs to existing systems do not require a permit. However, older systems with substandard construction (pit construction, buried wellheads, etc.) are required to be upgraded when repair work is performed and that upgrade does require a permit.

How do I get a permit?

Usually, the water system contractor will obtain the permit. Homeowners or builders may also apply for permits by coming to the Public Health main office at 117 South Main Street, Dayton.

If I connect to city water, can I keep my old well?

That depends. If it is constructed up to current standards, and connected to a sampling tap, it may be kept for irrigation (although some water departments require a back-flow prevention device to separate it from the public water supply). If the well is substandard, it must be either upgraded or properly abandoned and sealed.

Do I need to clean my septic tank even if the system is working?

Yes. Much like changing the engine oil in a vehicle, cleaning a septic tank is preventive maintenance which should be done periodically.

How often should the tank be cleaned?

It depends on how large the tank is, how large the family is, and how much extra material (garbage, trash) goes down the drain. On average 3-5 years is about right for most households. For more details see OSU Extension Bulletin AEX-0740-01 Septic Tank Maintenance.

Are septic tank additives necessary?

No. Added yeast, enzymes, and bacteria do no harm, but are usually not beneficial to system functioning.

If I have a wet, smelly spot over my sewage system, is that a problem?

Yes! Partially treated sewage bubbling to the surface is a health hazard to the community and corrective action is needed. Evaluation by a professional will be needed to determine whether the correction will involve a simple repair, an alteration or replacement of the system.

Who can I get to pump my tank or work on my system?

All household sewage system contractors must be registered and bonded with PHDMC to perform work in Montgomery County. See the lists of registered installers, septage haulers (tank cleaners) and service providers available above.

Is a permit needed to work on the system?

A permit is needed to install a new system and to replace or alter an existing system. Tank cleaning or a minor repair does not require a permit.

If I’m ready to build a new house, do I need a “perc” test?

No. Use of the old-fashioned percolation test was discontinued in Montgomery County effective January 1, 2007. It was replaced with an evaluation by a trained soil scientist to determine the soil characteristics for sewage disposal on a building site. You will also need to employ a consulting designer to design the system based on the soil evaluation.

Is my old percolation test still valid?

No. Previous perc tests were honored until January 1, 2012. Design plans approved between January 1, 2007 and January 1, 2015 will be honored until January 1, 2017. Otherwise, sites will need to be reevaluated by a soil scientist to determine what sewage system would match the site.

Is every new house now required to have a mound system?

No. The type of system required depends on the soil characteristics on the site. Leach fields may still be used unless the soil is too shallow over a limiting condition (such as bedrock, heavy clay or water table.)

Who can I get to do the soil evaluation and sewage system design work for my new house?

In Montgomery County, soil evaluators must be professionally certified and designers must be capable of interpreting soil evaluations and preparing design plans. PHDMC has a list available of certified soil scientists and designers active in the area who can perform the necessary consulting work. See 'Consultant List – Sewage Treatment' under 'Files' below.



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