OWTS New Development

The PRIMARY consideration you should consider in deciding to purchase or how to develop a raw piece of land should on how you are going to handle the liquid waste. In many cases, the only choice for the liquid waste treatment will be an enhanced Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS), and this type of system costs at least $50,000.

Parcels of land that have not been developed probably have challenges, that is why they have not yet been developed. In addition, new OWTS standards apply..

Challenges that likely exist on raw land for an Onsite Water Treatment System include:.

  • Size of parcel: minimum parcel size for a development of raw land is 1 acre meaning some existing parcels are unbuildable. There is a 10-acre minimum lot size for creating new parcels in watersheds that supply drinking water.
  • Steep slopes and cuts: sewage can leach out on a slope or cut and even cause a slope failure. Even if the parcel is 1 acre, there may be very little flat space to accommodate an OWTS. OWTS cannot be placed on graded property.
  • Type of soils: clay soils require a larger leach field. Sandy soils require enhanced treatment.
  • High groundwater: there are minimum separations between the bottom of the leach field and groundwater to allow the soil (microbes) to treat the waste, if too high, enhance treatment will be required.

The first step is to hire a qualified professional to evaluate the parcel for the challenges listed above. The knowledgeable qualified professional should be familiar with county OWTS ordinance and regulations. They should conduct an initial site visit and then file for a Site Evaluation. The Site Evaluation will provide valuable information in determining the type of OWTS and the Conceptual System Design that the qualified professional creates based on the parcel and soil characteristics and the proposed project. The Site Evaluation information will be required when applying for an Installation Permit..

If you decide to proceed after getting the Site Evaluation, Santa Cruz County requires a qualified professional to apply for a new OWTS..

A Sewage Disposal Permit is required for any person to install or construct an OWTS (or upgrade, enlarge, replace, modify, repair, abandon or destroy). This applies whether you are an owner, contractor, company, or public agency.

Sewage Disposal Permit Application: Will only be accepted when determined to be complete. The application must include all the following:.

  1. Completed Application for Sewage Disposal Permit
  2. All items listed on the back of the application and the Sewage Disposal Application Check List
  3. Complete System Design that follows the New OWTS Standards, including scaled Plot Plan, test results, study reports and all drawings as required per Site Evaluation Report
  4. Payment of all applicable fees
  5. Grading plan (when required by EH)
  6. Easement agreement or acknowledgement letter from neighbors if applicable
  7. Any additional information as required by EH (e.g., slope stability report or Geotechnical Report)

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