Sewage Disposal Program
How to obtain a standard sewage system permit: It is strongly encouraged to have your property evaluated to determine the size and location of the septic system prior to siting a house, structure or well. It will be easier to move buildings on paper if you need to, due to setbacks or the size of the system. To do so, you must hire a certified evaluator to look at the property. They will excavate at least 3 test pits (two in the primary sewage disposal area and a third in the reserve disposal field area) to a depth of 12 feet and determine the capacity of the soil to absorb water. The evaluator will then develop a site plan matching your development desires to the available space.
You must have the soil and site evaluation completed prior to submitting an application for a sewage disposal permit. Applications are accepted and processed through the County Planning & Zoning offices. If an alternative system is necessary (due to lack of soil, groundwater, impermeability, etc.), the evaluator may recommend that you to see an engineer to design a system to compensate for whatever the limitation is. The application for an alternative system would be reviewed by the Arizona Dept. of Environmental Quality (rather than the Health Dept.)
Site and Soil Evaluator: A qualified Investigator/ Evaluator can be either 1) Arizona-registered Professional engineer, 2) Arizona- registered Professional geologist, 3)Arizona-registered Sanitarian or 4) an individual with a certificate of training from a course recognized by ADEQ.
Care and Maintenance of Your Septic System: Improperly maintained and failing septic systems are common sources of water pollution and potential public health hazards. The following are to assist you in maintaining your septic system for optimal sewage treatment and maximum life span.
The septic system is an underground two-part sewage treatment and waste water disposal system. It is composed of a septic tank and a leach field. Sewage flows by gravity into the septic tank where the solids are removed and some treatment occurs. The remaining liquid flows to leach fields where it is further treatment occurs and allowed to soak into the soil.
It is recommended that the septic tank be pumped every 3 to 5 years of normal household use. Contractors are listed in the telephone book (in the yellow pages under “Septic Tanks & Systems- Cleaning”). If solids from the tank are allowed to enter the leachfield the life of your system could be drastically diminished causing expensive repairs much sooner than would normally be expected.
To locate where your septic tank system is, consult your Cochise County Environmental Health Division office nearest you. If your house is not too old, the office may have a record of where your septic tank is located in reference to your house. Another way would be to probe the yard to see if you can physically locate it. Your yard may contain certain clues, such as a cleanout pipe. This line leads directly to the tank, which is usually 10 feet or more from the foundation of the house. A plumber or septic tank pumping company can also locate the tank for you.
Newer septic tanks an effluent filter inside of the second chamber of the tank before the outlet or discharge pipe. The purpose of the effluent filter is to prevent solids from infiltrating into the leach fields. Effluent filters must be periodically cleaned. It can be cleaned by removing is from the tank and rinsing it with running water. You or your septic pumper can clean these filters. Cleaning is usually recommended at least once each year.
The efficiency of the septic system is related to the quantity and quality of the wastewater. All leaking fixtures should be repaired as soon as possible. In normal quantities, household cleaning products would not have any harmful effects. Pesticides, herbicides, paint, solvents or oils should not be disposed of in the septic system. Addition of chemicals or bacterial enzymes is not recommended.
Septic system failure is usually indicated by either the backing up of sewage into the home or by surfacing effluent the leach field area. When this occurs, the septic tank is in need pumping and the leach field’s ability to handle the inflow of effluent is decreasing. Surfacing effluent is considered a public health hazard and requires immediate correction, such as pumping the tank and possibly obtaining a repair permit from EHD if repairs to the septic system need to be done.