We regulate the installation, repair, and maintenance of septic systems for homes and businesses not served by community sewer systems.
Starting Oct. 4, Septic will be online on Development Direct.
To prepare for the move to online, we will not be able to accept any septic permits Sept. 29 – Oct. 3. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Septic and onsite wastewater treatment systems must be designed, installed, and maintained to protect:
- public health by properly treating and disposing of disease-causing human waste
- the groundwater aquifer and surface waters from pathogen and nitrogen contamination
Use Development Direct for...
- All Development Engineering permits, including:
- Development Permits
- Entrance Permits (Driveway)
- Right of Way Permits
- Utility Permits
- All Building, Electrical, Plumbing and Mechanical permits that require a plan review
- (begining Oct. 4) Septic projects (except operation and maintenance reports)
Visit How To Apply for a Permit for...
- Trade contractor Electrical, Plumbing and Mechanical permits that do not require a plan review
- Basic homeowner Electrical, Plumbing and Mechanical permits that do not require a plan review
- Land Use permits
- (until Sept. 28) Septic projects (except operation and maintenance reports)
Looking for forms? These forms are the most commonly used ones for septic and onsite wastewater projects.
Frequently Asked Questions
To schedule an inspection, call 503-742-4720, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Have your permits ready with the permit numbers associated with the inspections you are requesting, and a code for the type of inspection you need. The code for a septic inspection is 700. Visit the schedule an inspection page for more details.128276
Unless you have made prior arrangements with the department, please call for an inspection only when the installation is complete and all that is left to do is backfill. For standard systems:
- the tank in the ground and water tested,
- the pump (if applicable) and alarm ready for operation,
- float settings set properly (pre-checked),
- pressure line or effluent sewer installed,
- trenches dug,
- drain media installed,
- boxes and header piping installed, and
- (if applicable) the groundwater interceptor trench dug with rock, pipe, and filter fabric in place.
Systems found to be incomplete may be subject to a re-inspection fee.128276
No, unfortunately that is not possible. Our staff plans their routes as efficiently as possible, but cannot predict what situations they may encounter on each inspection; some may go smoothly while others may require more time.128276
Permits are subject to re-inspection fees for incomplete installations (i.e., not ready for inspection) and when the corrections from a previous inspection have not been made and a subsequent inspection is required.128276
The tank inlet and outlet should be plugged, and the tank should be filled with clean water two inches into the riser. There needs to be a clearly visible mark at the water level, along with the time, date, and your initials.
- If the water level drops less than one inch in 24 hours and the rest of the system is complete, you are ready to call for an inspection.
- If the water level drops more than one inch in 24 hours, seal all leaks and perform the test again.
- When the water level drops less than one inch in 24 hours and the rest of the system is complete, you are ready to call for an inspection.
Please be aware that failure to properly water test the septic tank will require a re-inspection.128276
One of the items we verify is the setback from property lines to the septic system. The property corners need to be clearly marked and the property line easily identifiable in order for us to confirm that the system meets the required setbacks.128276
If during the installation you find that a change is needed to the design, materials, or location of your system, contact the department at email@example.com or 503-742-4740 before making the change to ensure it is allowed under the applicable rules. Please note that not all changes can be approved, and some may result in additional fees.128276
For additional questions, please call the Septic Department at 503-742-4740.128276
We have some subdivision records from before the mid-1970s, which is when we started to run the septic system program. Our records are complete for septic systems built after that. Please note that many building permits were issued based on pre-existing systems, so there may be newer homes for which there are no septic records.128276
Please complete and submit a Public Records Request. We do not accept telephone requests for records. Records Research Requests are completed by WES staff each week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. A self-help area which allows you to access your records is available anytime our building is open. Please note there are processing fees for records requests (if records are found).128276
You should plan on an area of approximately 100 ft. by 100 ft. (10,000 square feet) for an average 450-foot standard drainfield and drainfield repair area for a one-to-four-bedroom house. This can be reduced with some alternative systems to about 3,500 square feet. This entire area must meet all setbacks (see setback form).128276
Though minimum lot sizes are in part determined by the type of soil on a property, we consider a one-acre lot with public water, or a two-acre lot with a well, as the minimum lot size required for a septic system that can meet applicable setbacks. Smaller lots will probably require the system to be staked in the field to ensure it can fit with all other existing or proposed development before we issue a septic permit or a building permit.128276
You may access and download a septic site evaluation application and instructions online or request they be be faxed or mailed to you. Please follow all instructions carefully to ensure the application is completed in full. We cannot accept incomplete applications. A complete application includes the following items provided by you:
- An application signed by the property owner or contract purchaser
- A plot plan (see below for tips on drawing one)
- A minimum of 2 and a maximum of 6 test holes in the area you propose to replace your septic drainfield.
- The application fee
It varies with the season. During the busy summer building season, please allow for several weeks. During the slower winter months, we can process a request more quickly. There is no advantage to testing your site during summer. During the summer we look for permanent markings in the soil that accurately indicate the depth to the winter water table.
- Note: System Repair Evaluations for actively failing systems are our highest priority, but results may be delayed if we are not given evidence of an active failure.
- If you simply want to upgrade your system, you must still apply for a site evaluation if one has not been done previously.
Our applications, instruction sheets, fee schedules, plot plan instructions, and handouts on test hole construction tips are available online.128276
Only the property owner/contract buyer can sign the application for a septic permit, unless another agent has been authorized in writing. Use the Notice Authorizing Representative form to authorize an agent.128276
Show the following:
- All wells within 200 feet of the property
- A north arrow
- The scale (the preferred scale is approximately 1 inch equals 30 ft)
- For site evaluations, the location from two perpendicular lot lines to at least two test holes. Note: the test holes must be in the area you propose to build a new or replacement drainfield.
- The location of the existing drainfield , if othere is one
- Any geographic feature that requires a setback (creeks, ditches, escarpments, etc.)
All the items listed above need to be shown, but we ask that you focus only on the area to be developed rather than the entire site.128276
Septic approvals are good indefinitely or until site conditions change in a way that would prevent theinstallation of a code-compliant system such as:
- A well installed in the approval area.
- The approval area is graded or logged to such an extent that drainfield function could be expected to be impaired.
- A change in river course could reduce lot size such that insufficient acreage would remain.
A septic approval is seldom an approval of the entire lot, but rather an approval of a specific location for the septic drainfield. We look at the soil profile (color, texture, continuity of layers) as well as a surrounding area of sufficient size and slope to properly site a drainfield. In addition, we consider site stability and setbacks. However, we do not do percolation tests since they are not a valid way to predict drainfield sizing under Oregon DEQ rules.128276
Relocating a septic approval to a new location on the property will require a new site evaluation unless the new area has been evaluated and approved separately.128276
The easiest solution is to place the septic tank near the home and pump the sewage effluent to the drainfield location. Alternatively, you may apply for a new site evaluation in an area more favorable to your preferred property layout plans.128276
No. Home site approval does not include the site evaluation process needed for septic system approval. To obtain a septic system approval, you must complete and submit an application for a site evaluation and prepare test holes in the area planned for septic system installation.128276
- Authorization Notice
- Clackamas Maps
- Deck Setback Guidance
- Financial Assistance
- Single Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants (US Department of Agriculture)
- Septic System Assistance (Clackamas River Water)
- Craft3 Loan Program
- Residential Septic System Repair and Replacement Program (Clackamas Soil & Water Conservation District)
- Groundwater Interceptor
- Guide for Septic Tank Replacement (Minor Repair)
- Homeowner's Guide to Evaluating Service Contracts
- Installer and Maintenance Provider Certification
- Minimum Separation Distances
- On-Site System Installers and Pumpers Database
- Septic & Onsite Wastewater Systems Fee Schedule Program Fee
- Septic Installation Plot Plan Requirements
- Septic System Recommended Standards and Guidelines
- Septic Systems (Decentralized/Onsite Systems)
- Soil Evaluation Plot Plan Requirements
- Soil Site Evaluation
- Septic System Installed Materials List
- Stakeout Procedure
- Water Well Information and Abandonment