Local septic system regulations under revision

San Juan Basin Public Health, which regulates septic systems in La Plata, Archuleta, and San Juan Counties, is currently revising its local septic system regulations. We have planned several community meetings on a couple of subjects (see below), but first, an overview: The State of Colorado recently updated their statewide septic regulations (“Regulation 43”), and the new version will go into effect this summer. As a local public health agency, San Juan Basin Public Health has one year from that date to revise its local regulations to meet or exceed the requirements of Regulation 43. As such, there are certain changes that are set from the state, and several optional regulations and programs that we are considering, and on which we want feedback from the community (including development, construction and real estate professionals).


Here is our schedule of upcoming meetings (there will be several more than this, building to a public hearing in late summer or early fall):


Transfer of Title refers to a regulation requiring inspection and certification of existing septic systems at time of property transfer. Right now, such inspections are voluntary and done at the initiative of buyers, sellers, or their representatives. There are a variety of ways to structure a Transfer of Title program based on how it is carried out elsewhere in Colorado. We would like the participation of experts such as yourselves to determine if a Transfer of Title program is desired and, if so, how it would be best organized.


Higher Level Treatment refers to a regulation permitting septic systems to be made smaller if they include a proprietary “Higher level treatment” system that improves the quality of wastewater. According to state rules, such size reductions are only allowed if SJBPH establishes a maintenance oversight program to ensure that such advanced treatment systems are properly maintained by their owners. We would like feedback on the desirability of such a program and how we could best ensure compliance if such a program were created.


Local Annexes are regulations that do not exist in Regulation 43 but are added on by SJBPH. Currently, there are local annexes regarding the requirements for existing wastewater ponds (“lagoons”), temporary occupancy of properties, and how SJBPH reviews subdivisions, lot consolidations, etc., along with several others. Continuation and modification of these requirements are up for discussion in this session, as well as a request that SJBPH explore permitting the application of raw septic tank solids to agricultural lands, rather than requiring their disposal at a wastewater treatment plant. We would like feedback from the community on these items.


For more information, feel free to contact…

Brian Devine

Environmental Health Specialist

Surface and Drinking Water/OWTS



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