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Apply For a Septic Permit
A permit from the county is required for the following situations:
  • All new installations of sewage tanks, soil dispersal, and treatment areas
  • All repair, extension, replacement, or modification of existing systems and components
  • Any changes in use of a facility served by a subsurface sewage treatment system

The permit must be obtained prior to a building permit being issued. Either the homeowner or the contractor can apply for the permit. The steps to obtaining a permit are as follows:
  • Contact a licensed designer. Find licensed SSTS businesses.
  • The designer must conduct soil observations (soil borings and percolation tests) on your lot and design a system based on those soil observations.
  • Once you receive a design, complete a Septic Permit Application via the Washington County Septic Data Management System.  Complete the permit application, attach design and pay the applicable fee.  For paper submission, complete a Septic Application via Septic Permit Application. Submit the permit application, the design and the applicable fee to the department.
  • The department must conduct a site review of the lot to verify soil conditions and make sure the location of the proposed system meets all setbacks.
  • If county staff verify the soil observations are correct, all setbacks are met, and the design meets the requirements in the ordinance, the permit will be issued.

Operating Permits
An annual Operating Permit is required for some of the more complex septic systems to ensure that the system does not adversely impact the environment and the public’s health; plus to ensure the longevity of the system. The following systems require an annual Operating Permit: 
  1. Type III Systems – Systems that vary from standard Type I or Type II systems, formerly “other systems”
  2. Type IV Systems – Advanced treatment systems that use pre-treatment devices that are registered for use with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
  3. Type V Systems – Advanced treatment systems that use pre-treatment devices that are not registered for use with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
  4. All Midsized Sewage Treatment Systems (MSTS)
  5. Holding tanks
  6. Food, beverage and lodging establishments
  7. Hazardous waste generators

Complete an Operating Permit Application via the Washington County Septic Data Management System. Complete the permit application, attach the design and pay the applicable fee. For paper submission, call the department and a program representative will contact you with the process.

Operation and maintenance is essential to the long-term performance of onsite wastewater treatment technologies. Site visits by a licensed service provider can provide early detection of problems that could result in malfunction of onsite wastewater treatment systems if left uncorrected. Early detection makes it possible to take action before a system becomes a public health hazard, a liability to the owner, or a problem to the environment.

The frequency required for both monitoring and maintenance may vary based on the complexity of the treatment process, the system reliability, and the amount and type of wastewater being treated by the system. Monitoring frequency is also determined on the basis of public and environmental risk.

Permits and Licenses Required For Land Application of Septage
In accordance with Washington County Ordinance #196; Subsurface Sewage Treatment and System (SSTS) Regulation:

  • A Permit is required for each parcel of land to which septage is applied. 
  • Land spreading must be conducted by a licensed maintainer business.

Check out the MPCA’s 2015 Septage and Restaurant Grease Trap Waste Management Guidelines for additional information. Please note this is a guidance document based on State and Federal regulations. If you have questions about compliance requirements in Washington County please refer to SSTS Ordinance #196 or call 651-430-6655.

Public Health and Environment
Ph: 651-430-6655

Application Drop-Off Locations
Cottage Grove
Forest Lake
Stillwater - Room 4600