Wherever possible, sewage and wastewater should be collected in community sewers connected to a central treatment plant. However, in most rural areas and in many suburban residential areas community sewers are not available. In that case, individual household onsite wastewater treatment systems (OWTS) are installed to treat household waste.
Private Onsite Wastewater Treatment System
An OWTS will adequately serve a home only if it is properly located, designed, constructed, and maintained. There are several variations of the basic OWTS design in use today. OWTSs are individually designed and/or adapted for a specific site. An individual private OWTS consists of two main components, a septic tank and a leach field or drain field.
Private Sewage / Wastewater Regulation
The Environmental Health Unit regulates the private sewage / wastewater system program. Inspectors oversee the design and installation of OWTSs to ensure installation meets standards outlined in Article IV of the Sanitary Code of the Chautauqua County Health District and New York State Code Part 75.
Private Sewage / Wastewater Application
The private onsite wastewater treatment system application packet (PDF) is designed to guide homeowners through the process of requesting an OWTS permit and selecting a sewage contractor. A condensed application (PDF) is also available for contractors.
The professionally engineered OWTS packet (PDF) is designed for businesses, homeowners, etc. who have been advised by CCDHHS that a professionally engineered OWTS will be needed to address their specific wastewater needs. A list of Professional Engineers (PDF) available for Chautauqua County projects may be helpful.
Mandatory Inspection Program for Lakeshore OWTSs
The program aims to protect private drinking water wells, reduce lake water contamination, and protect public health from short-circuiting OWTSs that are not adequately treating wastewater. Beginning in 2016, the Environmental Health Unit is required by the Sanitary Code to inspect all properties along Bear, Cassadaga, Chautauqua, Erie, and Findley lakes with a facility/home within 250 feet of a lake that also meets one of the following criteria:
- The OWTS is unpermitted OR a permitted OWTS is 30 years old or older.
- An OWTS is suspected to be in significant non-compliance with the Sanitary Code.
The program is being implemented because public health risks related to declining lake water quality are increasing in Chautauqua County. A factsheet (PDF) has been prepared to address frequently asked questions.