On-Site Sewage Disposal Systems

Households and businesses that are not served by public sewers usually depend on an onsite wastewater disposal system, or septic system, to treat and dispose of their wastewater. Proper design, installation, and maintenance are critical for the prevention of pollution and disease caused by human waste.

St. Clair County has approximately 30,000 homes with septic systems. If left unattended a failing system can become a major source of fecal coliforms in the soil, and ground and surface water. Management is the key to a lasting septic system.

Permit Instructions
Prior to installing or repairing a septic system, you must obtain a sewage permit from the St. Clair County Health Department. Instruction and applications are provided for both residential and commercial buildings that generate less than 10,000 gallons of sewage per day. If you have questions regarding your existing or proposed septic system, contact the Environmental Health Division at (810) 987-5306 and the Sanitarian assigned to your area will be able to assist you.

Care and Maintenance
Your system is not the same as a municipal sewer; it has a limited life expectancy, and its life expectancy can be drastically reduced if the system is improperly used or cared for. Your septic system should give you many years of trouble-free service if properly used and maintained. Maintenance is much less costly than replacement!

How to Avoid a Problem

  • Have your tank pumped once every 3 – 5 years
  • Use water efficiently
  • Manage what goes down drains. Garbage disposals are not recommended.
  • Protect your drainfield. Do not drive on, park, or plant trees on your drainfield.

Do you have a problem?
If a sewage system fails, obvious signs appear. Be aware of them!

  • Toilets back up
  • Drains won't drain
  • Excessive moisture or waste water surfaces over the drainfield
  • Foul odors emanate from the drainfield or septic tank

Additional Resources
Homeowner's Guide to Septic Systems, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.