If you are thinking of buying or selling a home with a septic system in Saint Louis County the rules have recently changed.  Subsurface Sewage Treatment System Ordinance 61, which came into effect February 2014, requires prior to any sale, transfer, contract for deed, or any other conveyance of land where a dwelling is located or a section of land where a structure requires a septic system must meet new guidelines.

If you are thinking of selling your home have your septic system inspected by a licensed inspector as soon as possible.  The Inspector will then submit the finding of the inspection to the Saint Louis County environmental service department for review.   Depending what they find, they will send the property owner either a certificate of compliance, or a notice that the system is non-conforming, non-compliant, or an imminent threat to public health.  These terms can be difficult to understand, so I will briefly define them for you.

Certificate of Compliance certifies the existing or new system meets the standards of the state and county’s subsurface sewage treatment system laws and criteria.

Non-conforming means the existing system has less than the equivalent of 30.6 inches but at least 12 inches of vertical separation between the bottom of the distribution area and saturated soil level or bedrock, or any system that discharges sewage into a seepage pit, dry well or leeching pit with at least 12 inches of vertical separation, or an individual sewage treatment system in use that are undersized relative to occupancy, or any system that does not meet required setbacks.

Non-compliant means that the system is not meeting the required treatment, operational, and safety goals the state and county have established for septic systems.

Imminent Threat to Public Health means that the septic system is discharging into the ground surface, backing up into the structure or presents any other situation that prohibits the system from being safe to use.

If you receive a certificate of compliance, it is valid for 3 years upon inspection.  A certificate of non-conformity is valid for three years and will not require an upgrade unless bedrooms are added to the house or other changes in water use are added.  A non-compliant certificate indicates that the system must be upgraded within one year if you are on a shore land property and two years for all other properties.  A notice of imminent threat to public health requires that the system be upgraded within 10 months.

If your system is found to be either non-compliant or an imminent threat to public health and you are planning to sell or transfer your property, an escrow account of 100% of the estimated cost to repair or upgrade your system is required.

There are some exceptions to the rules.  Any system that was built in the past 10 years does not require and inspection, systems that are 10 years or older that have been inspected and given a certificate of compliance or non-conformity do not require an inspection, and non-shore land property transactions between family members will exempt until 2019.