Non-Standard Septic Systems Operational Permit and Monitoring
Residential and Commercial – A Cooperative Effort
The purpose of the Non-Standard Septic System Operational Permit and Monitoring (OPR) program is to monitor non-standard septic systems to ensure they are operating properly for the protection of public health and groundwater resources. Permit Sonoma administers the county’s OPR program pursuant to the county’s septic standards, Sonoma County Code Sections 24-33 and 24-34, and in accordance with the State Water Resources Control Board requirements.
The property owner’s role in the OPR program is to properly maintain and operate their septic system. Part of that responsibility is to submit biannual monitoring information to Permit Sonoma. Self-Monitoring forms are mailed out to system owners/operators every March and October with pre-printed contact information and septic system information. Please verify or correct the contact information of record and provide a current email address. Any use of email addresses will be for official county business only such as notifications about the county’s OPR program.
All non-standard residential Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (OWTS) and commercial OWTS require an Operational Permit pursuant to Sonoma County Onsite Wastewater Treatment System Regulations and Technical Standards (OWTS manual) and County codes mentioned above. Owners/operators of these systems perform biannual monitoring, and Permit Sonoma conducts monitoring inspections to evaluate the operation and maintenance of these systems. Evaluations by county inspectors include review of the submitted self-monitoring documentation. Maintenance history is important to our assessment of how these systems are functioning.
Systems in the program have recorded easement agreements to allow the associates and employees of Permit Sonoma onto the properties to monitor and test the non-standard OWTS. In an effort to streamline our inspection processes and improve communication with system owners/operators, we have increased and reassigned staff for residential and commercial systems in the Water Resources & Engineering Division.
OPR Program Instructions and Forms
Hard copies are available upon request.
Monitor twice a year during the following months using the pre-filled form mailed to you by Permit Sonoma.
March – Wet Season
October – Dry Season
Assistance with Monitoring and Maintenance
Monitoring and Maintenance Contractors
We strongly support having a contractor you trust and call if problems. It’s very important that you list all maintenance done (and any repairs that don’t require a permit) on your forms. If a contractor is submitting forms on your behalf, you are responsible for having them address any issues that need attention.
Know What You Have
Septic system records are available (by address and parcel number) at our office and (maybe) the consultant. Permit Sonoma has Registered Environmental Health Specialist (REHS) staff at the Well and Septic Cubicle in our Permit Center who can assist you in locating and interpreting records on file at Permit Sonoma. You should ask for the main file as well as OPR file. You may also contact the consultant/designer.
Reduced Annual Fee Incentive Program
As an incentive for property owners to maintain their non-standard septic systems in good working order, Permit Sonoma has implemented a variable frequency inspection program which offers a Reduced Annual Fee Permit (RAFP). The RAFP is offered to property owners whose septic systems have at least a two consecutive year track record of acceptable operation. Learn more about the RAFP program.
Compliance – Get “On–Track Early-On”
To get on-track (and working toward a reduced annual fee permit, see WLS-016) we suggest:
- Perform Biannual Self Monitoring
- Obtain plan of record from County
- Submit complete forms
- Document all maintenance/repairs
- Address items of concern mentioned in our inspection letters (necessary for reduced fee)
- Instruct the County re: changes to phone or contact name and/or access onto the property and importantly to the SYSTEM AREA
- Refer to instructional information
- “Ask Questions"