- Department of Public Works
- Engineering Division
- Regulations & Construction Standards
- Upgrade of Failed Septic Systems
Upgrade of Failed Septic Systems
Title 5 allows the waiver of an upgrade of failed septic systems when there is a fiscal (financial) commitment to install the sewer within 5 years, and an enforceable agreement to connect to sewer is instituted. Please see the above timeline to determine when we expect to be able to issue this waiver for your phase. Persons wishing to increase the flow of sewage from their property (adding bedrooms or other increases to use) or encroach on required system setbacks are not eligible for a waiver; this does not apply to persons wishing to add a bathroom within the existing footprint of their building.
The enforceable agreement will be a two-page document signed by the Town, the seller, and the buyer, and it must be filed at the Registry of Deeds. That document will acknowledge that the septic system was inspected, that it failed the inspection, and that fixing the system is being waived. The buyer will be responsible for taking any action to prevent the septic system from backing up or overflowing and will be required to complete a sewer connection within 30 days of the sewer being available for use. A Sample Agreement (PDF) can be obtained from the Board of Health and from the website, but note that each agreement is tailored to the particular circumstances at each property. The final agreement will be generated by the Board of Health Office.
Each waiver is considered on its own merits. Systems that technically fail, but do not create an immediate nuisance may be allowed to stay as is, while systems that are overflowing or backing up into a home may have to be somehow repaired to correct the problem. The Board of Health staff will work with your contractor to work out the best and least expensive response to the problem, but note that there are no guarantees that any work done on the system will correct the problem. If there is any concern on the part of a buyer or seller that there may be a problem, then it is in everyone’s best interest to hire an engineer and install a fully compliant septic system.
Note that while the Town, buyer, and seller may all agree to the repair waiver, some lending institutions may not allow it; buyers should verify if their lender will agree to this waiver prior to having the Board of Health draft the document.