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Responsibilities of a Household Sewage Treatment System Authorized Under the

General National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit

The Ohio EPA has issued the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit (NPDES) No. OHK000001 and OHL000001 to provide a process for replacement household sewage systems that discharge treated sewage effluent (does not use a soil- based system) to come into compliance with the provisions of the Federal Clean Water Pollution Control Act.  The complete terms and limitations of these permits can be found at http://www.epa.state.oh.us/dsw/permits/GP_HouseholdSewageTreatmentPlants.html.    

The General Permits define the limitations of coverage for systems that are eligible for receiving coverage under the permit, and identifies conditions where discharging systems cannot be installed.  General NPDES Permit OHK00001 allows the local board of health that has jurisdiction where the replacement household sewage treatment system is located to determine eligibility of coverage under the permit.  Under the conditions and criteria of General NPDES Permit OHL000001, Ohio EPA is responsible for making this determination in local health districts that have not signed an agreement with Ohio EPA.  Both General Permits require that any new or replacement discharging system must be permitted and installed under a local health district permit.  These systems must meet certain effluent water quality standards defined in the General Permits.  Owners of these systems must obtain on-going service and maintenance of the system, and conduct annual water quality sampling to demonstrate compliance with the permit standards. The Ohio Department of Health, with the recommendation of the Sewage Treatment Systems Technical Advisory Committee, reviews and approves sewage treatment systems and components that can treat household wastewater to meet the requirements of the General Permit.    

Steps to Install a Replacement Discharging Sewage Treatment System  

    1. Complete a Site Evaluation - A property owner with a discharging system that needs to be replaced should begin by contacting the local health district.  The local health district staff will  then work with the property owner, and possibly a soil scientist, to conduct a site evaluation to determine if a soil based system can be installed on the lot.  

    2. Determine if you are eligible for coverage under the General Permit - If the site evaluation shows that an on-lot or soil based system cannot be installed, then most local health districts can make the determination that a replacement discharging system can be installed.  If you local health district has not signed an agreement with Ohio EPA, than the Ohio EPA will make this determination.

    3. Submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) to Ohio EPA - If your local health district has an agreement with Ohio EPA, they will provide you with a letter and a completed NOI.  You must sign the NOI, and indicate the check number used to pay the Ohio EPA fee.  The NOI, letter from the district and fees must be mailed to the Ohio EPA.  If you local health district has not signed an MOU, you must complete and submit the NOI, plus fees, and the site evaluation information to Ohio EPA.  This information will be reviewed by Ohio EPA to determine if the property meets the requirements for a replacement discharging system under the second General Permit.  Please  refer to fact sheet http://www.epa.state.oh.us/dsw/permits/HSTS Draft FS dec07.pdf for more  information. 

    4. Obtain a Notice of Coverage – If your local health district has signed a MOU, the Ohio EPA will send a notice of coverage within five days.  For all other health districts, the Ohio EPA will review your submittal and send a notice of coverage upon determination that the site is eligible.  The notice of coverage is for five years, and is an important document that should be filed with all  other system information.

    5. Apply for an Installation Permit - A copy of the notice of coverage must be provided to the local health district to obtain an installation permit.  System owners must select an approved discharging system for installation and work with a locally registered sewage treatment systems contractor.  Approved systems are listed on the ODH website at http://www.odh.ohio.gov/ASSETS/B4067FD87C684E71A5A3050E144A09F7/Rule12Lg.pdf.   On the approved system table, find the column labeled NPDES. If the system has an X (1) after it, the system is only allowed to discharge to waters other than Lake Erie; and if the system has an X (2) after it, the system can directly discharge into the waters of Lake Erie.  For questions regarding an installation permit, please contact your local health district.  

Responsibilities and Requirements for System Owners and Local Health Districts  

The General Permits define the responsibilities of ownership and maintenance of a NPDES system.    

    1. Effluent Quality Sampling - One requirement of both General Permits is annual testing of the effluent quality.  System owners are responsible for ensuring that a sample is collected and reported to the local health district.  Samples must be taken in compliance with and meet the effluent monitoring requirements as listed in the General Permits.  

Samples must be tested annually for:

¨  Total Suspended Solids
¨  Ammonia (summer or winter limits--depends on what time of year sample is taken)
¨  Five Day Carbonaceous Biochemical Oxygen Demand
¨  Dissolved Oxygen
¨  Fecal coliform or E. coli (the General Permit sets E. coli standards for discharges to Lake Erie)

    Annual effluent sample test results must be reported to the local health district who must review these results to ensure the system is meeting discharge limits.  Some local health districts will collect these samples as part of the operation permit issued to the system owner.  The service provider for a system may also offer the sample collection as a separate service or as part of the service contract and report the data to the local health district.  System owners should contact their local health district to determine the local sampling and reporting process.  Failure to report annual testing is in violation of the General Permit and Ohio Revised Code 6111 and could result in loss of coverage under the permit and penalties.   

    2. Service Contract for the Discharging System -   The owner of a discharging household sewage treatment system that receives coverage under either General Permit is required to maintain a service contract.  ODH approval for these systems and the General Permit conditions both require that a service contract be maintained to ensure that the system operates properly and does not discharge untreated sewage effluent.  Local health districts are responsible to ensure that system owners maintain a service contract for their system.  Local health districts may fulfill this obligation through issuance of an operation permit and may require a fee.  Some local health districts will accept the service provider report in lieu of an inspection from the local health district.  Operation and maintenance data for each approved discharging system can be accessed through links on the approved systems table on the ODH website.  

For more information on sewage treatment systems contact the Bureau of Environmental Health,

Residential Water and Sewage Program at 614-466-1390, BEH@odh.ohio.gov, or visit the program website at http://www.odh.ohio.gov/odhPrograms/eh/sewage/sewage1.aspx