Septic tank systems do not work forever. If you are having problems with your septic tank system, take a look at the questions below. Answer them with “yes” or “no”; even if your answer is “sometimes”, still answer with a “yes”.
  • Is sewage or effluent being discharged from your septic tank system onto the surface of the ground, surface waters, or directly into the groundwater?
  • Is sewage or effluent backing up into your home, facility, drains, or septic tank?
  • Is there sewage or effluent within 3 inches of the finished grade over the septic tank system?
  • Is it necessary to have your septic tank pumped more than once per month to avoid answering "yes" to one or more of the above questions?

Malfunctioning Wastewater System

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you have a malfunctioning wastewater system. The owner must fill out an application for a repair permit and complete a simple questionnaire. The answers to the questionnaire will assist the Environmental Health Specialist in determining causes of the problem.

Site Evaluation

The specialist will evaluate the site and the existing system before issuing a repair permit. In some cases, the system may be fixed by repairing a leaky toilet or fixture, or diverting surface water. A repair permit is not required in these cases.

Poor Soil Conditions & Space Limitations

Repair permits issued for sites with poor soil conditions or limited space are based on best professional judgment to provide the best functioning system possible and protect the environment and public health. In most of these situations, it is necessary that the system owner take additional measures to ensure the future performance of their system.

These measures include practicing good wastewater system practices. This information and more can be found in the Septic System Information for Homeowners booklet.


Whatever the cause, it is important to remember that sewage contains viruses and bacteria that are dangerous and should not be ignored.