Onsite Wastewater Program
(Septic Systems, Private Lagoons)

Important note: The Title 124 regulations pertaining to Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems have been revised and became effective August 11, 2012. Related Fact Sheets and Guidance Documents have been revised. To view the revised regulations, go to Title 124.
Drain field graveless chamber (picture)
Program Description Onsite wastewater treatment systems include septic tanks, holding tanks, small lagoons, and other decentralized wastewater treatment systems not typically connected to a municipal wastewater treatment system. Septic systems are primarily located in rural areas not served by sanitary sewers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that nearly one in four households depend on septic systems to treat and dispose of sanitary waste that includes wastewater from kitchens, clothes washing machines, and bathrooms. Although the majority of onsite systems serve single households, housing subdivisions, churches, campgrounds and other non-dwellings such as restaurants, dog kennels, wineries, butcher shops and RV parks also use onsite systems.
When properly sited, designed, constructed, and operated, onsite wastewater treatment systems pose a relatively minor threat to drinking water sources. On the other hand, improperly used or operated onsite systems can pollute groundwater and can lead to waterborne disease outbreaks and other adverse health effects.

The Nebraska Onsite Wastewater Program administers regulations meant to protect surface water and groundwater as well as public health and welfare through the use of standardized design requirements, the certification of onsite professionals, the review of plans for subdivision development and the permitting of systems that because of large size, handling of non-domestic wastes, or siting issues require a site specific evaluation.

Who to Contact
To view Nebraska’s rules and regulations relating to this program, go to Title 124, Rules and Regulations For the Design Operations and Maintenance of Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems.

Just for Homeowners – A dwelling or non-dwelling that generates wastewater must have an onsite wastewater treatment system that complies with Title 124 or be connected to a public sewer system or other wastewater works. In addition, only a properly certified professional may inspect, repair, pump or install an onsite septic system. Any local requirements (city, county) are separate from and in addition to the requirements found in Title 124 that apply statewide. This information will help you to better understand the regulations and to make informed decisions about your onsite system and its proper operation.

Subdivision Reviews -- Prior to construction of a development area where an onsite wastewater treatment system is proposed on any lot less than three acres in size, the owner of the planned development area must submit an application for subdivision review and receive Department approval for the use of onsite wastewater treatment systems for the development area.

Permits – Most onsite wastewater systems in Nebraska are constructed under “Authorization by Rule” which does not require a construction permit from the State of Nebraska. However, some systems will require a permit as a result of the quantity or quality of the wastewater generated or site conditions that do not meet “Authorization by Rule” requirements.

System Design and Installation – An onsite wastewater treatment system must meet all of the requirements of Title 124.

System Registrations and Registration Requirements -- Any onsite wastewater treatment system that is constructed, reconstructed, altered, modified, or otherwise changed must be registered with the Department.

Professional Certification — Nebraska’s Private Onsite Wastewater Treatment System Contractors Certification and System Registration Act (Onsite Act), was passed in 2003 and requires that anyone doing work associated with onsite wastewater systems be certified by the State of Nebraska.

Continuing Education -- A minimum of twelve (Department approved) professional development hours of continuing education are required during the two year certificate cycle for certificate renewal.

Private Onsite Wastewater Treatment System Advisory Committee (OWAC) -- The OWAC advises NDEQ on proposed rules and regulations relating to the Onsite Act.

Frequently Asked Questions - Commonly asked questions and answers relating to the Onsite Program and regulatory requirements.

Publications – Applications, forms, guidance documents, newsletters, etc.

Related Programs
Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program

Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
1200 "N" Street, Suite 400
P.O. Box 98922
Lincoln, Nebraska 68509
(402) 471-2186