On-site Wastewater Treatment Systems

San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH) is the regulatory authority for on-site wastewater treatment system (OWTS) permitting in La Plata, Archuleta, and San Juan Counties.

SJBPH has regulated OWTS, also known as septic systems, since 1967. Due to updated State of Colorado standards, SJBPH adopted new local Regulations that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

On Jan. 1, 2019, it will be mandatory in all three counties to have most OWTS inspected prior to sale. Click the “Transfer of Title” tab below for more information on getting your property ready for sale under the new requirements.



EH Main Line | 970 335 2052


Beginning January 1, 2019, most properties served by a septic system in Archuleta, La Plata and San Juan Counties will be required to undergo inspection prior to sale. This requirement helps identify failing and hazardous systems and protects property buyers from unforeseen repair obligations. In 2018, these inspections are optional.

Inspections for Transfer of Title purposes must be performed by an inspector certified by the National Association of Wastewater Technicians (NAWT). Inspectors can be found in two ways.

  • As a courtesy, SJBPH maintains an unofficial registry of local certified inspectors. This list is not official or comprehensive and you should verify that an inspector’s certificate is current before contracting with them to do an inspection. There may be other certified inspectors on the NAWT website that do not appear on SJBPH’s courtesy list.
  • Click here to search for an inspector on the NAWT website.

Septic tanks must be pumped by a licensed System Cleaner as part of the required inspection. Click on the “Installers and Cleaners” tab above to find a licensed System Cleaner.

Inspection reports and reports from System Cleaners are valid for twelve months. Inspection reports for Transfer of Title purposes must be submitted to SJBPH to obtain an Acceptance Document prior to closing. Acceptance Documents expire at the closing of the property sale, or after twelve months, whichever comes first. All Acceptance Documents are contingent on proper permits existing for the septic system. Call 970-335-2060 or email eh@sjbpublichealth.org to request a copy of an existing OWTS permit from a specific address or parcel number.

The following situations will be exempt from mandatory Transfer of Title Inspections:

  • The OWTS received a final permit from SJBPH within the last four years.
  • The transfer is not an arm’s length transaction (for example, inheritance, including a spouse)
  • The transfer is creating or ending joint ownership, with one original owner remaining on the title
  • Creating trusts and LLCs in the same name as the original owner
  • Foreclosure (note: sales of bank-owned properties will NOT be exempt)
  • Repair or alteration permits are active for the OWTS in question

The Transfer of Title Inspections requirement is delayed until 2019 to allow for more time for homeowners, real estate professionals, and the wastewater industry to prepare for the new requirements.

Anyone who wishes to install, construct, alter, or repair an on-site wastewater treatment system (OWTS) in Archuleta, La Plata, or San Juan Counties is required to first obtain a permit from San Juan Basin Public Health. Learn more about how to obtain an on-site wastewater system permit and prepare for site evaluation:

Please note: submitting an application for the installation of an OWTS does not guarantee a permit on marginal lots; marginal lots may be small in acreage, contain steep slopes, shallow bedrock, shallow groundwater or not meet setback requirements.

OWTS that will serve commercial properties or multifamily dwellings, and all OWTS located on unsuitable soil, high groundwater, high bedrock, or steep slopes must be designed by a professional engineer. On other sites, anyone may submit a design following a Site and Soil Evaluation, which determines if any of these conditions are present. Site and Soil Evaluations must be performed by Registered Soil Technicians. If you have the necessary qualifications to perform soil evaluations and wish to be added to the registry of Soil Technicians, contact SJBPH at 970-335-2030.

Regulations require that all OWTS be installed by a currently-licensed System Contractor and that the Contractor possess the authorization to construct the OWTS, signed by SJBPH, prior to breaking ground.

Construction inspections of new OWTS are scheduled through the permitting process. Click the Permit tab to learn more.

For an inspection of an existing septic system that is more than four years old, two things are required:

First, the septic tank must be pumped by a licensed system cleaner. The cleaner will perform an inspection and report on the condition of the system. This report will detail activity(s) performed, septic tank volume, number of chambers in the septic tank, and any system deficiency(s), malfunction, or broken equipment observed, such as cracks, infiltration, overflows, or non-standard equipment. A copy of this receipt shall be provided to SJBPH, upon SJBPH’s request.

Second, using the form below, request that SJBPH perform an inspection of the surface features of the septic system. This inspection is accompanied by a search of SJBPH permitting records for the property in question.

Please note, a five day notice is required for inspections.

Inspections of existing systems can also be scheduled with an Inspector certified by the National Association of Wastewater Technicians (NAWT).

Anyone intending to install an OWTS in 2018 must complete a System Contractors Class and obtain a license from SJBPH. SJBPH offers the System Contractors Class several times throughout the year. Remaining classes to obtain a 2018 license are as follows (all classes are at the SJBPH Durango offices, 281 Sawyer Drive):

  • October 26, 9 a.m.

System Contractors holding a 2018 license will receive an email or mailed letter in December 2018 with information about how to renew their license for 2019. Individuals without a 2018 license who wish to be licensed for 2019 must take the 2019 contractors class. The first class will be:

  • January 25, 9 a.m.

Additional classes will be held in April, July and October of 2019.

Dates and times are subject to change. Advance registration is required! Call 970-335-2060 or email eh@sjbpublichealth.org to register. Licenses expire at the end of the calendar year.

SJBPH licensed cleaners:

  • Superior Septic Services
  • Ball Septic Tank Service
  • Alpine Septic Service
  • Rocky Mountain Sanitation

OWTS Regulations

Current copy of the OWTS regulations.

Environmental Health Fee Schedule

Current fee schedule for sanitation and consumer protection services.