Frequently asked questions about on-site sewage rules

Where can I find out more about LCRA's permit/inspection process?
Call 512–578–3216 or 800–776–5272, Ext. 3216, option 1.
Does an inspection have to be done for every transfer of ownership?
Yes. A system inspection is required before LCRA can issue an approval to the new owner for continued use of the OSSF system. The new owner must have approval for continued use to legally operate the OSSF. LCRA does not require, but recommends, that this inspection take place before closing.
When are tank components required to be uncovered?
If LCRA has not visually inspected these components within the last 10 years, the inlet and outlet connections to the tank must be exposed. The portholes or manholes that provide access to the inside of the tank must be accessible if LCRA has not inspected the component within the last five years.
How long does it take to get a sale inspection?
Two full business days should be allowed after submitting the paperwork to LCRA for an OSSF system inspection. Additional time may be needed to prepare the OSSF for inspection.
Who pays the inspection fee?
The buyer and seller of the property determine who is responsible for paying the inspection fee.
What is LCRA's jurisdiction area?
Maps in the application package show the general area of LCRA's jurisdiction. If you have questions about whether your property is in LCRA's jurisdiction, call 800–776–5272, Ext. 3216, option 1, for staff assistance. You also may refer to the interactive regulatory zone map.
How long does it take to get a permit to install a new system?
Not including design or site complications, you should allow up to 30 days from the date the application is submitted. LCRA will notify you within 30 days if the application is approved or if additional information is needed.
What is retrofitting?
Retrofitting is replacing non-conserving fixtures with low-flow toilets, showerheads and faucet aerators to conserve water and reduce wastewater discharges.
How do I test the pump and alarm on my system?
LCRA requires testing of pumps and alarms during routine inspections. Please refer to these instructions for more information. You also may call 800–776–5272, Ext. 3216, option 1, to obtain a printed copy of the instructions.
Will LCRA uncover the tank?
LCRA will not uncover the tank. The property owner or owner's representative is responsible for uncovering the tank and any other portion of the OSSF system required to be exposed for the inspection.
When is retrofitting an option rather than system modification?
  1. When one bedroom or one potential bedroom is added to a residence over the number that it is currently licensed to service without enlarging the OSSF system, and if the system was installed under an LCRA permit. This option does not apply to certain evapotranspiration systems installed prior to Dec. 31, 1987. See LCRA rules.
  2. When the square footage of an addition exceeds the amount of heated or cooled space for which the OSSF system is licensed by one-bedroom equivalency.
When is retrofitting required?
All licensed grandfathered OSSF systems (those systems installed prior to Sept. 17, 1971) are required to be retrofitted.
When is a sight hole required?
A sight hole is required in the drain field on all OSSF systems installed prior to Sept. 17, 1971. A sight hole is a temporary excavation made into the drain field to verify that a proper drain field is present and receiving wastewater flow.
What is an emergency repair?
An emergency repair is one made to an OSSF to abate immediate and dangerous health hazards without altering the sewage facility's function and planning materials. LCRA must be notified within 72 hours after starting the emergency repair. Examples of emergency repairs include repairing or replacing tank lids, inlet and outlet devices, drip tubing or solid lines. Other repairs to the tank or drain field are not permitted as an emergency repair and require a construction permit.
Can a property owner perform the repair?
Yes. Property owners can repair their OSSF systems. Other individuals can assist, provided they are not compensated for the work being done, unless that person is a TCEQ-licensed installer.
What is a system modification?
A system modification is the addition to or improvement of an OSSF to meet current standards or to accommodate a change to the home or structure served by the OSSF.
Are holding tanks allowed?
Holding tanks may be used only on lots where no other methods of sewage disposal are feasible, as determined by LCRA. They also may be used as an interim facility for temporary structures, such as a temporary sales office.
Can a drain field be less than 100 feet from a water well?
Possibly, depending on the construction of the well. LCRA will require information on the well construction. The property owner should be prepared to submit information completed by a licensed well driller regarding the well construction. See TCEQ rules, Chapter 285, Table X, for setback reductions for different well types.
What is a profile hole?
A profile hole is an excavation, usually made with a backhoe, 2-3 feet wide and 2 feet below the depth of the drain field. One hole is required on each end of the proposed drain field location. The profile hole is used by a licensed site evaluator or professional engineer to evaluate the soil classification and feasibility of the proposed OSSF system. If the evaluator or engineer finds unsuitable soils, groundwater or a restrictive horizon less than 2 feet below the bottom of the proposed drain field, a conventional soil absorption system cannot be used.
Can I do my own maintenance on an aerobic treatment unit?
The rules require a maintenance contract for the first two years. After two years, an owner can do the maintenance after taking the appropriate class and passing the test.