Waste Water Managment/Septic

Onsite wastewater treatment and disposal (septic) systems and onsite water wells are covered under the Saginaw County Environmental Health Code. The overall purpose of the Code is to safeguard the environment for the health, safety and welfare of the consumer and to benefit and protect the health of all citizens. This is accomplished by managing and monitoring the construction and installation of sewage disposal systems and water wells through regulatory processes and permits of the Code.

If you own property and are planning to build or need to replace a well or septic system at a site which is not served by a public water supply and sewage disposal system, you are required to obtain a well permit and/or a wastewater disposal permit from this office. If you are considering the purchase of undeveloped property that will be served by an onsite sewage disposal system, you can request a preliminary soil evaluation to determine whether the site is suitable for such a system. If you are purchasing or already own property with an existing septic system and/or well, and would like to have the condition of the system(s) evaluated, you can request a mortgage or performance evaluation.

A private wastewater disposal system must be sized according to site conditions, which vary throughout the county. Each site must be evaluated by a Department of Public Health representative to accurately determine the characteristics of the soil layers which exist below the land surface and other features of the area, such as the water table level and surface drainage patterns.

A permit will be issued to you if the conditions found on the site are acceptable for the installation of an onsite wastewater treatment and disposal system. The permit you receive is valid for two years and will state certain minimum standards for the construction of the system. It is very important that you inform the installer of the minimum requirements for the system—any changes must be approved by this office prior to installation.

Septic system installers must be registered by the Saginaw County Department of Public Health. In addition, your well should be installed by a well driller licensed by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to meet the requirements of the Water Quality Law—Act 368, P.A. of 1978. Locate the well and septic system where they will be easy to service.


Don’t forget to check with your township representatives to be sure that your plans are acceptable with local regulations for obtaining your building permit and proper zoning. In addition, if your property is located within or partially in a regulated floodplain or wetland, a permit must be obtained from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality before a permit will be issued by this department.

The Saginaw County Department of Public Health will:

1. Make an onsite investigation of the conditions of your lot in regards to sewage disposal. Soil borings will be evaluated as to soil texture, drainage, and water table elevations.

2. For a preliminary soil evaluation (if you do not own the property), notify you in writing as to whether or not the soils are suitable for the installation of an onsite wastewater system and the minimum elevation of sand fill needed, if any.

3. For a new development or replacement system (if you own the property), issue a wastewater treatment and disposal permit if site conditions are acceptable. The permit specifications will include minimum sizes and locations of all the necessary facilities in regards to sewage disposal. The minimum size of the drainage system will be determined for you based on the number of bedrooms in the house and the type of soil on the site.

4. Notify you in writing if the site conditions are unfavorable for the installation of onsite water and wastewater systems. The property owner will have the option to appeal for a variance from the Environmental Health Code.

5. Always be available on a consultative basis to answer your questions at any time prior to, during, and after construction of your wastewater system. Please feel free to ask questions or request information as needed.

6. Collect a well water sample and make an inspection of the well installation to ensure acceptable water quality and proper installation methods and materials were used.

7. Make a complete inspection of the completed onsite wastewater treatment and disposal system prior to covering to ensure that the system has been properly installed and quality materials in the amounts required have been used.

The time necessary for processing the application varies and is dependent on the investigation required to establish soil characteristics, water table elevations, and other environmental data. All applications should be acted upon within ten days from the time the completed application, copy of registered deed and appropriate fees are submitted, and notification of completed soil borings is received.