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Septic Systems Q & A
How do I get a septic permit?
 Please come by the Sanitarian's office at the Community Services Building and visit with one of the Sanitarian's about getting a permit for your septic system. Please review the Property Owner's Guide to Obtaining a Septic Permit for more information.

Please note that every situation and piece of property is different. Staff members may need to gather additional information, conduct a site evaluation, or obtain legal records for the property.

I just bought a piece of property in a new subdivision. Now what?
Many subdivisions and certificate of surveys have gone through the subdivision review process and have been issued an approval document by DEQ. We have copies of the DEQ approval documents at our office. They are also available at the Clerk and Recorder’s office. Unfortunately, they are not currently available on the internet. 

If a DEQ approval document exists for your parcel, you must develop it as outlined in the approval. Approvals typically designate where your well and septic system must be located and limit the number of dwellings or amount of commercial development that can occur on the site. If you want to change where you want the well and septic system, you will likely have to go through a site modification process. 

I need to replace/repair my septic system. Do I still need a permit?
Yes. Septic Permits are required prior to any modification or load increase to an existing system. 

I just purchased a tract of land and am ready to install a septic system. What now?
Installation of a septic system requires a consult with the Sanitarian and a permit prior to construction.  There are many variables that need to be addressed and our office can help get you pointed in the right direction.

I am interested in purchasing a piece of property. How can I find out if it has a septic permit?
Septic permit information is available at the Sanitarian's Office. Per office policy, anyone requesting to review records such as septic permit information must complete and submit the Document Request Form. This form may be faxed, e-mailed or delivered hard copy to the Sanitarian. Be aware that the Department may take up to 20 days to fulfill your request, and may not be able to locate all requested documents. 

I moved to a home with a septic system. What do I need to know to care for my system?
Proper care and maintenance can prolong the life of your septic system. There are a few simple ways to preserve the function of your system.

Protect your septic tank and drain field from potential damage and ensure proper care of the tank. Be sure that there is no driving of any sort over the tank or drain field area and that the
drain field area doesn’t flood.

Be sure to have the tank pump by a licensed septic pumper at least every three to five years. Over time, the sludgy solids build up in the tank and will need to be pumped out.

Moderate your wastewater production. Although the septic system should be used each day to ensure proper function, overloading the system may cause problems. Avoid flushing
anything except waste water down the toilet or sink, including kitchen garbage, anything that isn’t biodegradable or any chemical products that may disrupt the natural waste processing that occurs within the tank. Avoid a “laundry day”, and instead spread out laundry loads throughout the week.

Always choose “septic safe” products, including toilet paper and chemicals meant to unclog the

Watch for signs of system failure. These include slowly draining fixtures, gurgling sounds in the
plumbing, backed-up sewage in the plumbing, and sewage odors in the house.

Montana Department of Environmental Quality has additional resources for caring for your system.

What rules govern the installation and operation of a septic system?
There are state and local rules that govern septic systems. State rules come from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Local rules come from the Richland County Board of Health. Click here to review the local waste water regulations. The Board has adopted some DEQ rules by reference.

I want to install septic systems in Richland County. How do I get started?
The Richland County Board of Health adopted regulations that established a licensed septic installer program. Each person installing septic systems in Richland County must obtain and maintain a license by passing a written exam, based on state and local regulations, and submitting an annual fee. Licensed installers may be required to attend relevant continuing education courses. To inquire about obtaining a septic installer license, please contact the Environmental Health office.

Can I landscape over my septic system?
The area where your drainfield is located is very sensitive, and the drainfield can be easily damaged. Take care in planting over the area. For expert advice, visit this article from Pumper Magazine.

Richland County
201 W. Main
Sidney, MT 59270