Septic System Regulations Expanded to Protect Surface and Groundwater



(Aspen, CO) Malfunctioning septic systems, officially known as onsite wastewater treatment systems (OWTSs), can contaminate ground and surface water. That’s why the Pitkin County Environmental Health Department is stepping up efforts to have some systems inspected.  Effective July 1, 2010 OWTS Use Permits will be required prior to the sale of a property or issuance of a building permit on a property served by an existing OWTS in Pitkin County.


“Malfunctioning septic systems release pathogens and contribute to heavy nutrient loading which can contaminate both ground and surface water,” said Carla Ostberg, Pitkin County Environmental Health Program Supervisor. “Boulder, Jefferson and Summit counties already have programs like this in place. They’re finding that through the permitting and inspection process they are able to identify and repair OWTSs that may have otherwise gone undetected,” Ostberg said.


The process of obtaining an OWTS Use Permit will entail completion of an application that must be submitted and reviewed by the Pitkin County Environmental Health Department.  Issuance of the permit will be contingent upon submittal of a written inspection report with the application indicating the system or systems on the property have “passed” or are functioning properly at the time the inspection. Inspections will be conducted by Licensed System Inspectors in Pitkin County.  In order to become licensed in Pitkin County, System Inspectors must have a valid credential from either the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), the National Association of Wastewater Transporters (NAWT), or be a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of Colorado.


“This new permitting program should be of particular interest to local realtors who need to understand the process as they represent buyers and sellers of existing homes served by OWTSs,” Ostberg said. “For buyers, knowing the condition of the septic system they’ll be purchasing is a valuable piece of information.  I’d want to know if the septic system serving the house I was purchasing was polluting the environment, may need major repairs, or could limit expansion opportunities on the property.”


A series of stakeholder meetings are being held offering information and opportunities to ask questions regarding the regulation.  The next round of meetings will be held on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 from 1:30-2:30pm at the Schultz Health and Human Services Building, Conference Room #3, 405 Castle Creek Road in Aspen and another from 4:30-5:30pm at the El Jebel Community Center (Eagle County Building), Mt. Sopris Room, 0020 Eagle County Drive in El Jebel.  Future meetings will be scheduled and advertised.


For more information on this program, please contact Carla Ostberg at 970-920-5438 or  For information on Jefferson County’s program, contact Craig Sanders at 303-271-5759 or


Posted on Wednesday, November 18, 2009