Please see the attached fact sheet for information about our inspections during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hamilton County Public Health approves plans, issues permits and conducts inspections for all household sewage treatment systems and small flow onsite sewage treatment systems located within our jurisdiction (all of Hamilton County excluding cities of Cincinnati, Norwood, and Springdale). Whether you have an existing system, need to replace a failing system, plan to add on to your home, or build a new home or business that will not be connected to sanitary sewer, Health District Environmental Health Specialists are here to help.
For information about operating, maintaining or repairing your septic system, click here. If you are buying a home and want to make sure the septic system is working properly, click here for info on a Real Estate Transfer. Contractors looking to be registered a a hauler, installer or service provider in Hamilton County, Ohio should click this link.
Select the option that best describes your situation:
I am building a home that requires a household sewage treatment system (STS)
If you are constructing a home or business that will not be connected to a sanitary/public sewer system, you will need to install a sewage treatment system (septic system). All new subdivision plans and individual plots unable to access sanitary sewer lines are reviewed by Health District Environmental Health Specialists. Environmental Health Specialists review the soil and topography of the plot and make recommendations on the type of system to be installed. Additionally, staff conduct inspections for room additions and work with property owners throughout the process of replacing failing household sewage treatment systems.
Sewage Treatment System technology has made great advances in the last several decades and Hamilton County Public Health has a nationally recognized inspection program. There are many steps that go into the design and installation of a septic system, and a system that works for one property may not work for another.
The following information should help you through the process of designing and installing a new septic system. Should you have questions, Water Quality staff are available to help.
My current septic system must be replaced..
A malfunctioning household sewage treatment system creates both a public health and environmental nuisance. See below for the Household Sewage Treatment System Installer’s manual.
Should you require additional information, please contact our office at 513-946-7830
I am required to connect to a sanitary sewer
There are two options for the treatment of household wastewater in Hamilton County – sewers or household sewage treatment systems (septic systems).
Septic systems treat wastewater from your home (dishwasher, showers, toilets, washing machine, sinks, etc.) using soil absorption, aeration and septic tanks. Hamilton County Public Health inspects septic systems in Hamilton County to ensure that they are working properly and are not creating a public health nuisance.
The Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) maintains the county’s sanitary sewer system, which treats all wastewater in Hamilton County.
Property Owner Requirements
Ohio law and Hamilton County Policies and Standards requires homes within a certain distance of a sanitary sewer system to connect to it, regardless of whether or not that home has a properly functioning septic system. If you are required to connect to a sanitary sewer, you will receive a letter from the Health District explaining the steps you should take and the time frame within which you have to complete them. In most cases, those steps include:
- Obtain a sewer tap permit from MSD. Contact MSD at (513) 244-1330.
- Obtain an abandonment permit for your current household sewage treatment system. Contact the Health District’s Plumbing Division at (513) 946-7854.
- Have your home/building’s sewer directly connected to the sanitary sewer available to your property.
Property Owner Costs
The Hamilton County Commissioners fund construction of local sewers by charging an “assessment” to the benefited properties. The amount of a construction assessment depends on the sewer’s actual construction costs.
A property owner will incur the following construction costs:
- Local sewer construction assessment
- Plumber’s charges for connecting to the sewer system
- Filling/closing onsite septic system
- Tap-in fee and various permit fees
Financial assistance may be available to Hamilton County homeowners who are required to connect to sanitary sewer. Please view Financial Aid Fact Sheet to determine if you qualify.
- Assessment Assistance – It is the policy of the Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners to encourage public sewers and to help financing sewer improvements. Special assessments made be levied on properties receiving benefit from public sewer improvement. Total actual costs of the local public sewer improvement in excess of $12,000 per benefited property is funded from Metropolitan Sewer District. Also, property owners may, if they choose, pay the assessment (plus finance charges) over a 20-year period. Visit www.msdgc.org for more information.
- Connection Fee Assistance – The Hamilton County Planning and Development Water and Sewer Grant Program provides one-time grants up to $6,500 to income eligible property owners. Only residents living in Hamilton County, outside the limits of Cincinnati, are eligible. When connecting to public sewers, the loan or grant does not apply toward assessment costs, only to sewer tapping costs. Homeowner must be approved for the grant prior to construction. Please call 513-946-8230 for more information.
I have a septic system and want to add a room, swimming pool, garage, driveway or other structure to my current home or property
If you have a septic system and plan to add a room to your home/building or make other modifications to your property (adding a garage, pole barn, driveway, swimming pool, surface water impoundment, geothermal well, etc.), certain requirements must be met. Learn more on our Additions page or download an Application for Sewage Treatment System Review.
Please contact the Water Quality Division at (513) 946-7863 if you have questions.
I am repairing or altering my current sewage treatment system
If your system requires repairs or alterations to make it work properly again, you may need a permit before you can start work. If you are uncertain, contact Water Quality staff at (513) 946-7863 for more information.
The following are examples of when you will need an alteration permit for your septic system. Other situations may exist.
- Replacing 20 or more feet of pipe in your system
- Replacing any tank in your system
- Relocating a portion of your system
- Moving a discharge line
I need the Household Sewage Treatment System Installer's Manual
The following is a compilation of documents that provide specifications, guidelines, and installation standards for various types of Household Sewage Treatment Systems (HSTS). This document contains a combination of information that relates to conventional technology and advanced technology. Therefore, traditional gravity leaching trenches and “advanced” mound installation guidelines appear in the same document, as well as others.
The intent was to provide a document with a broad scope that is able to meet the challenges this developing industry faces. It is hoped that this document will remove some of the “growing pains” associated with taking part in the evolving industry of onsite wastewater treatment.
This manual is the product of a collaboration between the Hamilton County Public Health, the Clermont County General Health District, and the Brown County General Health District.
This manual will be updated on an annual basis. If you have any questions about these materials, please contact the Health District’s Water Quality Division at (513) 946-7863.
- A Homeowner’s Guide to Septic Systems
- Application to Construct or Replace a Household Sewage Treatment System
- Application for Sewage Treatment System or Gray Water Recycling System – Permit to Install or Alteration Permit
- Application for STS or GWRS Review for Property Improvement/Modification
- Approved Aerators and Timers
- Fact Sheet: How Owners Can Document Sewage Treatment System Operation, Monitoring & Maintenance in Lieu of a Health District Inspection
- Find a STS Service Provider or Hauler
- Financial Aid for Sewer Connections and Septic System Replacement
- Hamilton County Policies and Standards about OAC 3701-29
- Ohio EPA Semi-Public Sewage Treatment System Inspection Program
- Operation and Maintenance Program Standards for STS and GWRS
- Request an Inspection
- Septic Smart Homeowners’ Resources from the EPA
- Sewer Treatment System (STS) Management Plan
- Variance Request from OAC 3701-29
- Water Quality PWS Fee Schedule
- Water Quality STS Fee Schedule