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Contractors Explanations

While there may be some varying interpretations of the Georgia Department of Human Resources' Regulations and Manual for On-Site Sewage Management Systems, listed below are detailed explanations of some of the frequent topics and how the Clayton County Board of Health reached their conclusions.

Designated Circuits

Capacity of Dosing Tanks

Location of berms, swales, and other drainage control features - the Georgia Department of Human Resources' Manual for On-Site Sewage Management Systems specifies that: "Absorption fields shall be installed in areas protected from excessive surface water, ponding or runoff, including but not limited to storm water and discharge from building gutters." As storm water can greatly reduce the life span of an absorption field, thus contributing to a health hazard, our office ensures that drainage control features direct water away from the septic tank(s) and absorption field(s).

Flow rate used to size systems - many applicants propose using averages to determine the gallons per day (gpd) that is used to size the system. We have to use the maximum flow to size the system … if we use the average, then the system would be sized in such a manner that it would fail half the time. As septage contains many bacteria, viruses, and parasites, this would not be a sanitary situation. However, if we design the system to process the maximum amount of sewage that could be introduced, the system would not experience premature failure.

Sizing of Non-Conventional Absorption Field Products - many contractors ask: "What reduction do you grant for this product?" Actually, the reduction was granted by the Georgia Department of Human Resources and the approval document that was issued to the manufacturer states how to calculate the reduction. We simply review the proposal to ensure that the site is an acceptable location to install the product as not all sites meet the installation requirements due to topography, depth to restrictive layer, and other variables.

Proposals and site plans - our office does not design septic systems. It is up to the applicant, and whomever they hire to assist them in the permitting process, to submit a site plan showing all pertinent information, which includes a properly sized and depicted absorption field(s) with all site limitations considered when determining what system would be best suited for that particular site. It is the applicant's responsibility to show that the site meets the minimum requirements to be issued a permit, and if sufficient forethought is not put into the proposal, our office cannot issue a permit. Many times, the applicant's failure to submit a thorough proposal is the main factor which extends the permitting process beyond what would be considered a "reasonable" timeframe.

Concrete pads under Distribution Boxes - the Georgia Department of Human Resources' Manual for On-Site Sewage Management Systems states: "A firm earthen foundation secured by concrete or concrete foundation for distribution boxes extending at least 12 inches beyond the walls of the box shall be provided to insure against tilting of the distribution box." Therefore, when there is more than outlet pipe, the D-Box shall be set on a concrete foundation which extends at least 12 inches beyond the walls of the box, on all sides, to prevent settling of the box resulting in disproportional distribution. If there is only one outlet pipe, the D-Box may be set on a firm undisturbed earthen foundation. This should prevent severe settling of the D-Box. Minor settling should not affect the system as there is only one pipe for the effluent to exit through.

Renewal of Septage Removal Permits - each permit issued by the Clayton County Board of Health will stipulate a date of expiration. The renewal process for Septage Removal Permits are as follows:

Upon receiving a satisfactory inspection and submittal of all of the aforementioned paperwork and fees, a new Septage Removal Permit will be issued.

Re-Inspection Fee - in February, 2008, the Clayton County Board of Health passed a Re-Inspection fee which contractors must pay for each necessary inspection beyond the first complimentary inspection. This additional fee can be avoided with proper planning. Having the proper materials delivered, studying the permit prior to installation, testing any electrical components to ensure proper function, contacting our office at least 2 hours before the scheduled inspection to cancel if you will not be ready, and allowing yourself sufficient time to complete the job can help you "do the job right the first time" and avoid paying the re-inspection fee.

Denial of Proposals - Many contractors, site plan designers, or engineers have asked: "DHR approved this product/type of system to be used throughout the state of Georgia … why are you denying our proposal?" While it is the responsibility of DHR to review technical data and approve specific products or various types of absorption fields (such as mound, bed, drip, etc.), it is the responsibility of the local Board of Health to review the site specific data to ensure that the system can be installed properly and according to the criteria set forth by DHR. A sub-surface (drip) emitter system has been approved for use, but if the specific site has a water table too close to the ground surface, that site may not be suitable for that particular absorption field. A non-conventional absorption field product may have been granted an approval by DHR for a specific reduction, but if the site has topographical conditions which prevent installation, then the site may not be suitable for that particular product.

Additional Set-Backs - Other Clayton County offices may have additional set-backs which may be greater than or in addition to the set-backs established by DHR or the Clayton County Board of Health. These may include drainage easements, impervious surfaces, buffer areas, or similar scenarios. While our office may not be directly responsible for enforcing compliance to another office's requirements, we strive to provide a thorough review of any submitted plan. As part of this review, we want to ensure that the proposed OSSMS can be installed as per the plan. And though our office may not have any input regarding the additional requirement, we must take them into account when reviewing the proposal and not grant approval for installation in these areas.


Clayton County Board of Health
Office of Environmental Health Services

1 Crown Center 1895 Phoenix Blvd, Suite 350 College Park, GA 30349
Phone: (678) 610-7469   Fax: (770) 603-4874