|NAVIGATOR ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES
Septic Design & Installation Specialists
|State of Vermont Environmental Protection Rules, Chapter 1, Wastewater
System and Potable Water Supply Rules, Effective Septemebr 29, 2007.
Septic Tank Pumping Guide and related information
|Changing the Definition of a Failed Water Supply and Failed Wastewater System – The previous
definitions were somewhat vague. The new definitions have been revised to make it easier to determine
if a system is failed or not, which is important because anyone with a failed system needs a permit and
also has a defect in their property title.
Clean Slate - The legislation includes a “clean slate” exemption that basically grandfathers all buildings,
campgrounds, lots, wastewater systems and potable water supplies that were in existence before
January 1, 2007. A permit is required when any action is taken on or after January 1, 2007 that needs a
permit. If the wastewater system or potable water supply fails, a variance from the rules is available if no
fully complying replacement can be found. This provides relief for a number of properties that currently are
unmarketable due to non-compliance with the rules.
Replacement Wells for Single Family Residences – When a residence loses its water supply, time is of
the essence in finding and replacing the water supply. The rules have a new exemption that allows failed
single family residence wells to be replaced without obtaining a permit provided the siting of the new
water source is done in accordance with the requirements of the Vermont Water Supply Rules. The
revision does require a form developed by the Secretary to be filed in the land records in these situations
so that future title searchers will know that the well has been replaced.
Reduction of the Required Minimum Design Flow for Single Family Residence – The previous rules
required that the wastewater system design for a single family residence be able to accommodate the
wastewater flows from a minimum of 3 bedrooms (i.e. six occupants). The new rules change this
requirement to a minimum design requirement of 2 bedrooms. This will allow smaller wastewater
systems to be built.
Revision to Replacement Area Requirements – The previous rules required those people who are
installing septic systems to design and build their primary septic system and to also identify an area
where an identical replacement septic system could be built in the event the primary system failed. The
new rules allow the replacement area requirement to be waived if the primary system is designed and
constructed to handle 150% of the design flow and uses pressure distribution. This change will enable
some lots that were not developable (because they lacked the space and soils needed to site the
required identical replacement system) to be developed.
Removal of Mound System Replacement Area Requirement – The previous rules treated mound
systems the same as conventional systems regarding replacement areas; that is, an additional area of
land and soils sufficient to support an identical replacement mound system was required. Under the new
rules, this requirement goes away when a mound system sized for 100% of the design flow has been or
is proposed for construction. Designers and engineers have advised that, in nearly every case, failed
mounds can be replaced or restored to full function on the original footprint.
Composting Toilets – The previous rules did not explicitly mention composting toilets even though they
have been allowed for years. The new rules specifically allow the use of composting toilets. In addition,
the new rules allow a size reduction of the septic system to a size that is necessary to just handle the
waste flows from things other than the toilet (for example: dishwashing, laundry, etc). Finally, the revision
eliminates the requirement that a project have enough area to build a septic system for a flush toilet even
though a composting toilet is being proposed.
Seasonal Conversions – The previous rules required a permit in order to change the use of a single
family residence from seasonal to year-round. That permit required full compliance with the technical
standards. The new rules still require a permit and will require an upgrade if the existing systems do not
comply with the technical requirements, but a variance may be able to be granted if full compliance with
the Rules is not possible.
Subdividing a Developed Lot – Although the previous rules already reduced the permitting requirements
for the subdivision of land that has been developed, there are some situations where people wish to sell
off some land in order to get needed money. The previous rules stated that existing systems could be
kept as is, unless they were failed, but a replacement area was required to be identified. This created a
problem for those people with no money until land is sold. The rules have been changed to allow for no
search for a replacement area beyond 500 feet or more from the footprint of a single family residence,
duplex, or building with a design flow of 500 gallons per day or less. This section now also clearly allows
a best fix replacement area with 500 feet of the foundation of the building. This will provide relief to some
individuals who are in this situation.
Elimination of the Current Bedroom Exemptions -Sections, 1-403(a) (6) and (7) in the previous rules
have been eliminated, based on the statutory change in H.296. Therefore, the addition of one or more
bedrooms (which affects the design flow for the water and wastewater systems) does require a permit.
Exterior Alterations to a Lot – Under the previous rules, some people were required to hire a designer if
they were building a deck, adding a garden shed, etc. to determine if they were inadvertently eliminating
the location for a replacement area. The rules have been revised so that these kind of exterior alterations
do not need a permit unless something else is being done that needs a permit (for example: adding a
bedroom or re-building a failed leach field). If someone does exterior alterations that affect future septic or
water capacity, they may have to undo the alteration if the wastewater system or potable water supply fails.
|Q: I have just had a septic system installed on my property, how do I take care of it?
There are many ways to prolong the life of your septic system. Household water use directly controls how quickly waste travels through a conventional
system. Wastewater that enters the tank requires time to allow the solids to settle to the bottom. The higher the volume of water that is introduced to the
system, the less opportunity the wastewater has to settle in the holding tank and the less opportunity the bacteria have to break down the solids. Therefore,
limiting the use of water in the home will go far in prolonging the life of the system.
Never park vehicles or place other large objects on the drain field, as this will compact the soil and reduce its ability to treat wastewater. It also may damage
the network of drain pipes within the field.
Avoid planting water-loving shrubs with deep root systems or trees near the drain field, as roots could damage the pipes. All trees and shrubs should be at
least 10 feet away from any wastewater component.
Q: How do I limit the amount of water that goes into my system so i don't overload the system?
1. Use water-saving shower heads and faucet aerators.
2. Install low-flow toilets.
3. Repair leaking toilets (place a few drops of food coloring into the toilet tank to detect water leakage into the bowl). Fix that faucet that drips.
4. Make sure sump pumps and roof drains are not connected to the sewage system.
5. Use front load washers and do laundry daily instead of weekly.
Never dispose of toxic or hazardous chemicals by dumping them down the drain as they have the potential to contaminate groundwater.
Refrain from putting any plastic, cloth, or unnecessary paper products into the sewage system.
Avoid using garbage disposals as they accelerate the accumulation of solids in the holding tank. Especially avoid putting any grease or oil in the disposal
or drain. These can clog pipes and drain field soil and damage your system.
Q: What is the first step I need to take before I can subdivide my property?
The first thing you should do is to contact your town and find out the minimum requirements for you property. Gather as much information from the town as
you can, this will be helpful for you to refer to when you need to start making decisions.
A site consultation and soil testing with a licensed designer is also recommended to be one of the first steps, this will determine a number of different
things on your project.