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Septic Systems in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PDEP) carefully oversees the guidelines and regulations pertaining to septic systems in the state. These regulations are implemented for the protection of the public water supply and to ensure that all people have access to safe drinking water. Residents living where water services are not provided by a public body must install private systems for wastewater treatment.

Licensure Requirements for Septic System Contractors

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The Pennsylvania Storage Tank and Spill Prevention Act (Act 32 of 1989) in conjunction with PDEP regulations maintain a certification program for professionals. Homeowners must employ a certified installer and inspector for service, installation, modification, or removal of any aboveground or underground storage tank.

Installing a New Septic System

All homeowners must obtain a permit from the PDEP before installing an aboveground or underground septic system. The PDEP offers two specific types of operating permits: a Permit-By-Rule (PBR) or a General Operating Permit (GOP). Operating permits are automatically renewed each year, and there are no fees associated with obtaining these permits. However, operators must comply with minimum requirements in order to obtain an operating permit. These requirements include:

  • Properly register each tank, and pay any associated registration fees annually;
  • Employ certified professionals for tank handling and inspections;
  • Meet all technical standards
  • Cover financial responsibility requirements; and
  • Abide by corrective action procedures, as necessary.

Finding a Licensed Professional

Homeowners needing to install a new system or service an existing system may contact the PDEP for a list of licensed professionals. Please note that professionals receive licensure pertaining to specific tasks, such as installation, design, or removal. Just because a professional is licensed in one area does not insure licensure in others. The PDEP recommends thoroughly checking the credentials of any professional before obtaining service.

State Government Contact Information

DEP, Storage Tank Program
P.O. Box 8763
Harrisburg, PA 17105-8763
1-800-42-TANKS (toll-free within PA)
717-772-5599 (local and out-of-state)


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