Operations Policy And Procedure Notices #06/99



May 24, 1999


Express Permitting - Septic Systems




To revise the filing procedure for the approval and permitting of on-site individual private sewage treatment systems. This is an interim PPN and will be finalized when the Rule Relating to Individual On-Site Sewage Treatment Systems is promulgated.


Local Law 65/96 which established the Department of Buildings as the agency responsible for the these applications.


OPPN (un-numbered) dated March 1997 Re: Express Permitting Septic Systems



All applications will be filed at the Staten Island borough office.

All fees will be paid at the Express Cashier prior to the application being submitted for review. The application will be considered "accepted" upon fee payment. The application will be assigned to a plan examiner who will verify the completeness of the application. (Applications will no longer be reviewed by each and every examiner in the unit.)

A site survey will no longer be performed. A site survey certified by a Licensed Surveyor will be required and accepted as part of the application.


    1. The applicant must notify the Department of the date and time the excavation of TH#1 will take place. Excavation of TH#1 may begin without the presence of the DOB inspector. An inspector may visit the site, however, to examine the material within the encountered permeable stratum and verify the depth of the TH#1 as well as the setting of the wellpoint.
    2. The inspector shall indicate time of arrival to the job site, depth at time of arrival, time of leaving the job site, back-filling status and /or general field conditions.
    3. The professional or his representative shall witness the entire operation. The professional may sign and seal the T.H. report under the self-certification rules of the D.O.B.
    4. The professional shall submit a sample of the material found at the bottom of TH#1 representing an acceptable porous soil. The architect or engineer shall also submit a sample of the acceptable backfilling sand "ASTM-C33". These two (2) samples shall be accompanied with a letter, signed and sealed by the professional, stating that the (2) samples represent the actual material found and used at the job site.

      These samples are subject to verification and audit in the field.

    5. If serpentine rock is encountered, the professional should note it in the T.H. report, submit a laboratory test report and certify that he/she or the contractor has taken all required safety measures to protect the environment and the public health.
    1. The D.O.B. inspectors need not witness the well point installation.
    2. This wellpoint reading is to be performed within the "rainy season" (March 15 - June 30.) A well point reading will be taken by a DOB inspector 72 hours after the insertion of pipe at TH#1. If the 73rd hour falls on the weekend the well point reading will be taken on Monday.
    3. All wellpoint readings, including those in tidal areas, are to be conducted between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
    4. Overtime authorization to read a well point is required in advance and needs to follow the general overtime rules of the D.O.B.
    1. This test may be performed any time during the year. The applicant must notify the Department of the date and time when the test is scheduled. The inspector shall be at the site during this procedure.
    2. At the time of scheduling an AT/PT, the professional shall calculate the required amount of water to saturate the hole and inform the Department of the estimated amount of water, date and time the test starts, date and time that saturation point can be reached and the start of the 4-hour test.
    3. An estimated flow rate less than 6 gpm to saturate the sand shall not be accepted. In case of an overnight test, a lesser average flow rate no lower than 5 gpm may be accepted provided this rate is approved by the Borough Commissioner.
    4. The department will continue to witness the AT/PT. Upon arrival on the job site, the inspector shall add a note on the test report indicating time of arrival and briefly describe the status of the test and relevant observations.
    5. A representative of the professional must be at the job site at all times. An hourly meter reading record shall be prepared by the representative and it shall be available at the job site at all times.
    6. If TH #1 fails the AT/PT, the professional has the option to:
      1. Clean out TH#1 to any depth and re-run the test, or
      2. Run the test on TH#2, assuming the dry depth in TH#2 is the same as the dry depth in TH#1, and clean out TH#1 entirely and backfill it.

        Either case requires a new application and a new fee.

    7. If a zoning lot fails the AT/PT twice, the lot shall be considered unbuildable unless there is a relevant reason that justifies further trials. In such case the procedure shall be as follows:
      1. The professional shall submit to the Borough Commissioner, a request for reconsideration for another test of the soil in that zoning lot.
      2. The request shall explain any significant changes and how they may affect the results of the test.
      3. If the Borough Commissioner approves the request, two more testing trials shall be granted by this approval.
    8. The bucket test shall always be done on the saturated sand column and before the 4-hour test. The bucket shall be free of cracks or holes that may leak and affect the results of the test. A legible scale or tape measure must be permanently attached to the inner side of the bucket. The scale must be made of a water-resistant material. If the inspector finds the quality of the bucket or the scale unacceptable, he shall include that observation in his report for appropriate action.
    9. Cases of AT/PT termination:
      1. If the water flow stops for any reason for 15 minutes in a test that has no sign of failure.
      2. If the engineer decides to stop the test for any reason before reaching 50% of the saturation.
      3. If there is no acceptable bucket and attached scale at the job site at the time of the test.
      4. If the meter or the water supply system malfunctions and can not be repaired within 15 minutes in a test that has no sign of failure.
      5. If the professional does not use the required properly tested and certified reduced pressure zone backflow preventer (R.P.Z.)
      6. If there is any unpredictable incident (e.g., a storm, sudden illness…etc.) that technically does not affect the results of the test but would make it unacceptable to continue the test.
    10. Cases of AT/PT failures:

      Any of the following conditions shall render the AT/PT failed:

      1. If the average rate for any given hour falls below 1.5 gpm while maintaining a steady water puddle on the top of the hole during the 4-hour test.
      2. If the water overflows or leaks outside the perimeter of the hole consistently (before saturation or during the 4-hour test).
      3. If the water penetrates the clay perimeter of the hole instead of flowing vertically into the sand column at any time during the test (before saturation or during the 4-hour test).
      4. If the licensed professional or his representative manipulates the water flow rate or stops the water at any time during a test that has any sign of possible failure.
    11. Decisions on any field conditions that may occur during the test and is not covered in #9 or #10 shall be discretionary. The inspector shall report it and give an opinion in writing to the chief of septic unit. The chief shall match the field condition to the closest case mentioned above, considering the inspector's explanation and opinion.
    12. The inspector shall indicate time of leaving the job site, average water flow rate during the test, and any relevant observations.
    13. The professional shall sign and seal the AT/PT report.

    In those cases where TH#2 is within 25 feet of TH#1, the applicant shall record all required data with respect to the excavation and submit it to the Department. This information will be accepted provided a proper excavation, well point and satisfactory "perc" test was previously performed and witnessed by the Department on TH#1. A copy of the results on TH#1 must accompany the information on TH#2. In lieu of providing this information, the applicant may request an inspection. The inspector may spot check the excavation of TH#2.


  1. The applicant shall submit a complete checklist of all the required test forms, revised plans, site survey, certification that the site and the design are environmentally adequate and satisfy all the minimum distances and the AT/PT test results accompanied by the TR-1 to attest to the completeness and accuracy of the package. If the package is complete, the professional can request a permit.
  2. The professional may self certify the under the D.O.B. self- final design certification rules.
  3. Upon receipt of the complete application, the site sub-surface permit can be issued to install the septic system.
  4. The Department will randomly audit at least 20% of all self-certified applications.
  5. Self-certification of the septic system installation by the professional shall also be accepted.

Evaluation and Upgrade of Existing Septic System:

  1. Alterations of one or two family residential buildings that increase the number of bedrooms shall require a septic system evaluation.

    A licensed professional may certify that the existing system is adequate to accommodate the proposed changes, or self certify the septic system upgrade.

  2. Alternations of any commercial or manufacturing building that result in greater occupancy load or change of the type and/or quality of the disposal system, shall require a septic system evaluation or upgrade to accommodate the new type and quantity of the discharge.
    1. The applicant shall request this evaluation from the NYC Department of Buildings (D.O.B.), NYC Department of Environmental Conservation (D.E.C.) or NYS Department of Health (D.O.H.) as appropriate.
    2. The approval of the agency shall state clearly the proposed use and occupancy for which this evaluation or upgrade is approved.
    3. Approval of the on-site sewage disposal system from the agency shall be required prior to approval of the proposed alteration.