FAQs - Liquid Waste (Septic Systems)

Q01:  How often should I pump my septic tank?

A01:  Your septic tank should be pumped at least once every 3-5 years. It may need to be pumped more frequently if there are a large number of people living in the house.

Q02:  Will adding yeast or other additives such as caustic soda to my OWTS help increase the life of my septic system?

A02:  Although there are many additives on the market that claim to improve your OWTS performance, there is no data
or evidence that proves that introducing additives to an OWTS will increase the lifespan or operability of the system..

Q03:  Where is my OWTS located?

A03:  If a permit was issued for the installation of the system, check the ​EMD's Public Records webpage. If there is no record, you can contact a septic system contractor to help you look for the system on your property.

Q04:  What if I'm not sure if my parcel is served by public sewer or an OWTS?

A04:  To determine if you are connected to the public sewer or if public sewer is available contact Sacramento Area
Sewer District (SASD) at 916‐875‐6730 or their website at www.sacsewer.com. Note: If sewer is available within 200 feet
or your property line you may be required to connect to the sewer. You can also check the EMD's Public Records​ webpage to see if there is a record of an OWTS on your parcel or call (916) 875‐​1500.

Q05: When am I required to apply for a permit?

A05:  Most work relating to the construction, installation, and repair of an OWTS requires a permit. Visit the OWTS​ Permit​ Process page for permit requirements. Repair work such as pumping out your septic tank or de‐rooting your lines does not require a permit.

Q06:  How do I obtain a permit?​

A06:  Visit the OWTS Permit Process page for information on the permit process. 

Q07: I am interested in purchasing a piece of undeveloped property in the Sacramento area. What type of system do I need?

A07:  Consult the Septic Test Drill map page to locate the area of your parcel. The location of your parcel with Sacramento County will help determine the type of system needed for that area.

Q08:  Where is the parcel located on the Septic Test Drill map?

A08:  If you zoom in on the test drill map, the major roads are noted. The areas are general. If the parcel is close to one of the lines, contact EMD at (916) 875‐1500 to help with the determination.​

Q09:  What are the distance requirements for an OWTS (e.g. pits, leach fields, tanks, etc.​)?

A09:  Distance requirements vary. Refer to the Setback summary list

http://www.emd.saccounty.net/EC/Documents/S​eptic_DistanceRequirements_Summary.pdf for specifics. You can also refer to the Sacramento County Ordinance 6.32

http://qcode.us/codes/sacramentoco​unty/view.php?topic=6‐6_32&frames=off and the OWTS Guidance Manual


Q10:  When do I need an "Engineered" OWTS?

A10:  A "Designed" OWTS is required when the geology of the parcel prohibits the use of a conventional OWTS. Consult the Septic Test Drill map page​ to determine if your parcel is located in the "System Design" area. OWTS proposed for non‐residential uses may also require a "Designed" system.

Q11:  Can I connect more than one building to a single OWTS?

A11:  There are many factors related to this. Call EMD at (916)-875-1500 and leave a message. A specialist will return your call.

Q12:  How long does it take to obtain a permit?

A12: All permit applications can be emailed, faxed or dropped off at our office (see contact information below):

Sacramento County Environmental Management Dept.
Environmental Compliance Division
10590 Armstrong Avenue, Suite A
Mather, CA 95655-4153 

Email: Septicinfo@saccounty.net

Fax Number (916) 875-8513 

The permit application will be reviewed by staff within 5 business days.

Note that payment can be made online at https://emdpayments.saccounty.net/​​

Q13:  Does laundry/wash/bathing wastewater (gray water) need to be plumbed into my OWTS?

A13:  Yes, California Health and Safety Code, Section 5411 states that "no person shall discharge sewage or other waste…
in any manner which will result in contamination, pollution, or nuisance." HOWEVER, there are provisions in the
Plumbing Code that allow for the use of gray water under certain conditions. Contact the Sacramento County Building
Department at (916) 875‐5296 or https://​building.saccounty.net.