On-Site Wastewater Treatment (Septic) Systems
San Miguel County's population has more than doubled since 1990, placing a growing demand on the county's infrastructures. Although public sewage treatment facilities serve the majority of San Miguel County (SMC) residents, many others rely on onsite wastewater treatment systems (OWTS or septic systems). Such systems, if constructed and maintained properly, provide a reliable and efficient means of wastewater treatment and disposal.
Under Public Health’s Environmental Health Department, the OWTS program administers the development, permitting, installation, repair and replacement of domestic wastewater treatment systems with a daily flow of less than 2000 gpd (gallons per day) in San Miguel County.
On May 3, 2023, the San Miguel Board of County Commissioners acting as the Board of Health voted in favor of Resolution 2023-1: Adopting Onsite Wastewater System Permit Fees.
This resolution increases the OWTS permit application fee from $275 to $800 while eliminating the additional, previously required third-party engineering review payment. This resolution was drafted, reviewed and passed in the interest of process optimization for county employees and applicants alike.
Please send any questions regarding this resolution to: email@example.com.
To begin construction of an OWTS, both a development permit from the SMC Planning Department and an OWTS permit from the SMC Public Health Department are required (see below for exemptions).
Additional requirements include:
- A soil evaluation by a Colorado Professionals in Onsite Wastewater (CPOW) certified competent soil technician
- A set of OWTS plans stamped by a Colorado Professional Engineer (CPE)
- Independent review and conditional approval of proposed OWTS plans by a San Miguel County contracted Colorado Professional Engineer (CPE)
- Final SMC Environmental Health review
OWTS permits can be applied for on the SmartGov Public Portal.
In all areas in San Miguel County EXCEPT the West End Zone, Sawpit and Ophir a development permit from the https://www.sanmiguelcountyco.gov/198/Planning SMC Planning Department is required prior to construction of an OWTS. Permitting efforts can be pursued concurrently. Permits can be applied for on the SmartGov Public Portal.
Payments for an OWTS application are currently accepted by check made out to San Miguel County Public Health Department. They can be mailed to San Miguel County Public Health Department, Attn: OWTS, PO Box 1170, Telluride, CO 81435, or dropped off at the Public Health Department: 333 W. Colorado Ave, 3rd Floor, Telluride, CO.
Public Health can also process the application fee by credit card in person or phone. There is a service fee associated with credit card payment. Call 970-708-0323 for credit card payments.
Fees are as follows:
- $800 - New, Replacement, Enlargement, or Major Repair (requiring engineering)
- $350 – Variance Request: if you believe you necessitate an OWTS when local and state wastewater regulations prohibit a permit, you are entitled to apply for a variance request to current regulation. Please contact SMCPHD if you believe you qualify.
- $150 - Minor Repair (does not require engineering
If the septic system was permitted and installed in the last twenty years, the Environmental Health Department likely has a septic permit record for the property. This record generally contains information on the original permit, septic system design and location of components. For septic systems installed in the 20th century, permit records are less reliable but are often still helpful if found.
- Septic System Records: San Miguel County maintains septic system records. You can click here to make a record request for septic systems.
- Well Permit Records: The Colorado Division of Water Resources maintains records for well permit and are available for a records search by clicking here.
Septic System Care and Maintenance
The proper installation of an adequately sized septic system is the best insurance against failure. For a septic system to provide years of worry-free service, proper maintenance of all system components is essential.
General information regarding septic systems, how they work, and how to maintain them are available by clicking here. https://www.nowra.org/library/homeowner-information/
Certified Septic Inspection and Reporting
OWTS inspection and pumping services conducted by a National Association of Wastewater Technicians (NAWT) certified septic professional will generate an official report on the status of your system. It is highly recommended that the homeowner retain a copy of this report, as it can influence and inform future service or property sales efforts.
Relevant State and County Regulations
- /DocumentCenter/View/9210/CO-REG-43---OWTS-Regulation-Reg-43-SMC-Appendix-A-SOWTS Regulation (Reg 43) (SMC Appendix A) (PDF)
- /DocumentCenter/View/9212/CO-REG-86---Graywater-Regulation-Reg-86-SD Graywater Regulation (Reg 86) (PDF)
- /DocumentCenter/View/9211/CO-REG-64---Biosolids-Regulation-Reg-64-SD Biosolids Regulation (Reg 64) (PDF)
- 2023-1: Adopting Onsite Wastewater System Permit Fees
Recreational Vehicle Wastewater Dumping
Two locations in San Miguel County accept wastewater from recreational vehicles: