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Approximately 25% of existing U.S. households and 33% of new construction (both residential and commercial) rely on wastewater or septic systems. But today’s advanced on-site systems’ technologies are not the same systems that were developed 30 years ago. Current treatment technologies can treat wastewater to levels protecting the environment similar to traditional sewer systems. They are also able to treat large volumes of wastewater through the use of cluster systems, which are designed to support many homes. As the nation’s population continues to grow and as cash-strapped rural and small communities look for viable, effective methods of wastewater treatment, on-site systems will continue to play a critical role in our nation’s wastewater infrastructure.

For homes with septic systems, proper system care and maintenance is vital to protecting public health and preserving valuable water resources. When homeowners neglect to properly care for their septic systems, it can lead to system back-ups and overflows, which can pollute local waterways, create a risk to public health and the environment, and lead to costly repairs.

To help raise awareness about the need for proper care and maintenance of septic systems and to encourage homeowners to do their part, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched its first annual SepticSmart Week in 2013. By taking small steps to care for and maintain home septic systems, homeowners not only help protect public health and the environment, they can also save money and maintain their property values.

For more tips and more on SepticSmart Week, visit:

Who Regulates Domestic Wastewater in Missouri?

Different state and local agencies are responsible for regulating domestic wastewater, ranging from a simple septic system serving a single-family residence to a centralized wastewater collection and treatment system serving an entire community.

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is responsible for:

  • Approving the method of domestic wastewater treatment in new residential housing developments such as subdivisions, recreational developments and multiple family housing units when they meet specific criteria, along with approval for the method of wastewater treatment for the expansion of existing subdivisions, recreational developments and multiple family housing units.

  • Once a housing development receives written approval for the method of wastewater treatment, developers must contact the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services or the local on-site wastewater authority, commonly the local health department, to permit the specific on-site wastewater treatment system.

The department is also responsible for:

  • All domestic wastewater treatment systems with direct point discharge.
  • All domestic wastewater lagoons (earthen basins) other than an individual lagoon serving no more than a single family residence.
  • Any facility that has a maximum daily flow of domestic wastewater greater than 3,000 gallons per day.
  • All industrial process waste. Industrial process waste is anything not defined as domestic wastewater such as waste from a winery, a dog kennel, bait shop, etc. Industrial process waste also includes stormwater.

Either the Department of Health and Senior Services or the local on-site wastewater authority is responsible for domestic wastewater treatment systems that include:

  • An individual on-site wastewater treatment (septic) system serving a single-family residence.
  • An individual lagoon (earthen basin) serving no more than a single-family residence.
  • An individual holding tank serving a single-family residence.
  • On-site wastewater treatment systems with subsurface soil dispersal or holding tanks when the maximum daily flows of domestic wastewater are less than or equal to 3,000 gallons per day, including cluster or centralized systems along with commercial facilities such as offices, motels/hotels, RV parks, theaters and restaurants.

Additional Resources from the Department of Health and Senior Services

Information Resources for Septic System Maintenance

  • Septic Tank Maintenance Tips – Do's and Don'ts for properly maintaining your septic tanks are a must. Learn more.

  • Put Your Plumbing on a Healthy Diet – You probably know that many of those delicious, high-fat, home-cooked meals are bad for your arteries. But, did you also know the fat, lard and grease that make them so tasty are bad for your home’s plumbing, too? The grease you put down the kitchen sink will eventually find its way into the sewer system and cause significant problems. Learn more.

  • Disaster Response for On-site Wastewater Septic Systems -- Natural disasters can damage on-site wastewater systems. Some systems may be so damaged, major repairs are required to return them to service. Damaged sewer systems and exposed waste can create serious health and safety hazards. Take precautions when examining your system for damage and when making repairs. Learn more.

Additional Information on Wastewater Systems

  • Who Regulates Wastewater in Missouri? – This publication provides a basic explanation of who has authority for domestic wastewater in Missouri. Learn more.

  • On-site Wastewater Treatment (Septic) Systems in a Subdivision, 10 CSR 20-6.030 – This publication will help developers and other interested parties understand the Residential Housing Development Rule and how subdivisions receive approval. Learn more.

  • Common Promotional Plan – This publication will help those involved with determining the method of wastewater treatment within a subdivision understand how the definition of a common promotional plan can influence that determination with respect to the residential housing development rule, 10 CSR 20-6.030. Learn more.

  • Centralized Wastewater Collection and Treatment in Subdivisions, Mobile Home Parks and Campgrounds – This publication provides important information for developers of subdivisions, mobile home parks, RV parks and campgrounds to consider when a centralized wastewater collection and treatment system is required. Learn more.

  • Pump and Haul Operating Permit – This publication provides a general discussion regarding the department’s Pump and Haul Operating Permit requirements for domestic and industrial process waste. Learn more.

  • 3,000 Gallons per Day or Less No-Discharge Permit Exemption for Domestic Wastewater – This publication helps individuals understand the requirements for obtaining a 3,000-gallons per day or less no-discharge lagoon exemption.

  • Jurisdictional Change of a Domestic Wastewater Treatment Facility – A facility with flows of 3,000 gallons per day or less that proposes to change to a subsurface soil dispersal (absorption) system may require a change in jurisdiction. This publication discusses the basic documentation needed to help determine if using a subsurface dispersal system and changing jurisdiction is a viable option. Learn more.

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