Septic Systems


Important Notice about the Trial ADU Fee Waiver program:

The County of San Diego's Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) fee waiver program that went into effect January 9, 2019, was funded for 5 years, and will be ending on January 9, 2024.

Projects that are submitted for onsite wastewater treatment system (septic) layout review and septic installation permits obtained prior to January 9, 2024, will have fees waived.  Septic layouts and permits that expire after January 9, 2024, or are submitted/obtained after this date will not meet the requirements of the fee waiver program. If your project is currently under review, we will be working to provide any corrections as soon as possible so that your design team can work to update the plans and obtain your septic installation permit prior to January 9, 2024. Please work with your design professionals to get plans updated and returned to the County so that projects may be approved in a timely manner.

If you have any questions about this trial fee waiver program or you feel you will not be able to provide your plans for review prior to the January 9, 2024 date, please reach out to us at


On September 15, 2022, DEHQ held the first Stakeholder input meeting to introduce the Local Agency Management Program (LAMP) evaluation and revision process. Over the past few months, stakeholders provided feedback, staff reviewed collected comments, took into consideration and made the following summary of changes. To view the updated draft LAMP Version 2, stakeholders can pick from either viewing the Clean Copy version or version with Edits Copy in red lettering.

Please use this  linked feedback form to submit comments for consideration by  August 15, 2023.This is your opportunity to provide us final feedback based on your real-world experience to support the Regional Board’s consideration of alternative standards for San Diego County.

The LAMP provides alternative standards than those set by the State Water Resources Control Board’s OWTS Policy and must still achieve the same water quality and public health protections. Please consider this Policy requirement when providing your feedback.

We will also be hosting an in-person feedback/input meeting on July 12, 2023 (4-530 PM) at the County Operations Center, located at 5500 Overland Ave. Lobby Training Room 120. San Diego, CA 92123.

If you have any questions regarding the first draft of the LAMP, contact Linda Turkatte at If you have questions regarding the LAMP feedback form, contact Joann Lee at

Version 1: Clean Copy version or version with Edits Copy in red lettering.

Thank you for your support of our local program, your feedback is greatly appreciated.


Current Version: Local Agency Management Program

Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS) Policy

The purpose of regulating the design, installation, and maintenance of onsite wastewater treatment systems (or, septic systems) is to:

  • Ensure that these systems provide a safe and reliable means of wastewater treatment and disposal for properties not served by a sewer system
  • Prevent the contamination of groundwater from improperly designed onsite wastewater treatment systems
  • Prevent the contamination of surface water from improperly designed onsite wastewater treatment systems
  • Prevent premature failure of onsite wastewater treatment systems

Program Services | Useful Information | Types of Systems


Program Services

  • Design review of new onsite wastewater treatment systems and Graywater Systems
  • Design review of repairs and modifications to existing on-site wastewater treatment systems
  • Installation inspections of onsite wastewater treatment systems
  • Maintain design records for properties using onsite wastewater treatment systems
  • Respond to citizen complaints of failing onsite wastewater treatment systems
  • Provide coordinated review with other agencies for projects that require CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) or involve the use of onsite wastewater treatment systems
  • Provide review of discretionary land development projects that may involve DEHQ related permitting issues

Please note that a Project Issue Resolution Conference is available to applicants for discretionary land development projects processed through the County's Planning & Development Services:

Project Issue Resolution Conference

For land development projects processed through Planning & Development Services, a Project Issue Resolution (PIR) Conference is a meeting that includes an applicant, our Executive Management team, and County Project staff to discuss issues and identify solutions that were not able to be resolved with a County Project Manager due to interpretations of a code or other unique circumstances related to a project. The County is committed to helping customers navigate the land use permit process and ensuring customer satisfaction. The County recognizes land development can be complex and each project is unique. The goal of the PIR process is to help facilitate processing of each permit application in an efficient and timely manner by elevating technical project issues to our Executive Management team. For more information, please see PDS Page.  


Types of Systems

Currently, DEHQ is approving conventional system and supplemental treatment systems:

  • Septic tanks must have IAPMO approval and be approved for use by DEHQ
  • Leach lines can be constructed with either rock and pipe or other approved materials that would include plastic chambers
  • Horizontal seepage pits are restricted to sites with uniform soil conditions and average percolation rates not exceeding 30 minutes per inch  
  • Vertical seepage pits are restricted to coastal sedimentary basins that have degraded groundwater caused by salt water intrusion
  • Supplemental treatment systems must include percolation testing and a design from a licensed OWTS Professional
  • Any site with slopes that exceed 25% must include with the layout a slope stability report or statement from a licensed civil engineer or geologist

     LAMP 5-Year Evaluation Report (January 2022)

On-Site Wastewater Treatment System Layout Application Checklist


Groundwater Separation Requirements

OWTS Professional List

Percolation Test Form

San Diego County Code: Onsite Wastewater System Ordinance

Senate Bill 9 (SB-9) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Guidance

Septic Contractor List

Septic Pumpers List

Septic Pumper Truck Inventory Form

Septic Repair Authorization Form

Sewage Hauler Permit Application

EPA Homeowner's Guide to Septic Systems - (Spanish- Guía del dueño de hogar para sistemas sépticos)

ADU and Second Dwellings Facts

Septic Pumping Rebate Program

Water Sample Providers


  (858) 565-5173 (Duty Desk)

  (858) 694-2553 (Septic Inspection Line)