Contact Information

  • Environmental Health
  • (828) 465-8270
  • Contact via email
  • Main Location:PO Box 389 Newton, NC 28658
  • (view all county locations)

Engineered Systems

A newly enacted law now provides for a private option where an applicant can hire his own professional engineer to design a septic system without routine inspections from Environmental Health staff .

The new alternative is called the Engineered Option Permit and it provides a second process for the sighting, design, construction and approval, and operation of a septic system without requiring the direct oversight or approval of the local health department.

The state law went into effect with temporary rules in place in July. Permanent rules should be finalized and effective by January. New fees have not yet been determined for the EOP.

An owner who chooses to use the EOP will employ the services of a professional engineer to prepare signed and sealed drawing, specifications and plans for construction, operation and maintenance of the wastewater system in accordance with the new law.

Although it allows home and business owners to go through a different process, it still requires systems to comply with state and local regulations. Under the option’s requirements, the system’s engineer is responsible for all aspects of the project, from design until installation is complete, explained Mike Cash, Catawba County Public Health’s outgoing Environmental Health Supervisor. Environmental health staff do not review or approve the engineer’s plan.

Environmental Health staff ensure that applications for the EOP are complete. Once the application is completed and received, Environmental Health staff acknowledge its receipt and the builder moves forward with construction and installation. A reference copy of the plan is stored in Environmental Health so the building owner or Environmental Health staff can go back to the original plan if necessary. Staff will also complete a site visit to acknowledge the completed installation and location of the wastewater system.

"We acknowledge that we have been on site and that it is ready for use,” said Cash. “Although the new process is an option for builders, it will not replace the current process for permitting and approval of wastewater systems."

Environmental Health staff give written authorization to operate the system. Continued operation and maintenance is the responsibility of the owner. If there is a system failure, the owner will contact the project engineer.

Permitting Process

  • Complete application and copy of engineered design received; fee paid
  • Application reviewed for completeness. Information analyzed and permit issued or denial sent based on completeness. Incomplete applications will be returned to the engineer.
  • Once completed applications are received, builders may apply for permits to begin construction
  • Once the project is installed, Environmental Health is notified that the system is ready for a site visit
  • EH staff perform post instruction conference with the engineer after installation

EH staff give written authorization to operate the system. Continued operation and maintenance is the responsibility of the owner.

Engineered Wastewater System Plan Review Flowchart

Requirements for approval of large subsurface wastewater systems