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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : Division of Water : Information : Ground Water Discharges Information : GWDS Design Install Operate Info For Proposed Wastewater Treatment Regulations


Delaware's Revised Septic System Regulations (effective Jan. 11, 2014)

Delaware’s revised septic system regulations keep pace with changes in technology for large and small systems, protect public health and reduce pollution in groundwater, streams, rivers and bays, helping Delaware to meet its goal of achieving clean water. The changes correspond to regulations in effect for the past four years in Delaware’s Inland Bays Watershed. They also protect homebuyers from acquiring malfunctioning septic systems.

To view Delaware’s Septic Regulations effective Jan. 11, 2014 click here.

For DNREC’s Secretary Order approving the regulations, click here.

The revised regulations include requirements for small residential septic systems of less than 2,500 gallons of wastewater treated per day, as well as large community and commercial systems of more than 2,500 gallons of wastewater treated per day

Several sections of the regulations include phase-in effective dates.

Among other changes, the regulations effective Jan. 11, 2014:

  • Require inspection of all septic systems prior to property transfers
    • Most if not all mortgage lending institutions currently require the inspection of a septic system prior to sale.
    • This requirement informs a buyer of a system’s type and condition and protects a homebuyer from acquiring a malfunctioning septic system.
  • Clarify the permitting process for siting, installing and maintaining all small systems
  • Create new inspection protocols for system contractors and inspectors
  • Allow homeowners to maintain their own innovative/alternative system, once certified through a homeowner training program
  • Standardize the permitting process for spray irrigation and on-site systems
  • Include procedures for distributing treated wastewater for agricultural use and other authorized purposes

Regulations effective Jan. 2015:

  • Require the elimination of cesspools and seepage pits under certain situations
  • Require the upgrade of all new and replacement systems within 1,000 feet of tidal portions of the Nanticoke River and Broad Creek, which will assist Delaware in meeting federal targets to clean up the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
  • Establish statewide performance standards for all innovative/alternative systems
  • Require all manufacturers of concrete system components (septic tanks, dosing chambers, etc.) to be certified through the On-Site Wastewater Accreditation Program

Regulations effective Jan. 2016:

  • Require waste haulers to report septic tank pump-outs
  • Create a new licensee category for construction inspectors

The regulations represent the culmination of more than five years of work by DNREC staff that included 13 workshops and three public hearings, answering questions and gathering input from homeowners, state legislators, realtors, businesses, the wastewater industry, and public utilities. After each workshop and hearing, the draft regulations were amended to reflect public comment. 

Delaware’s Septic Rehabilitation Loan Program (SRLP) is available to help eligible property owners meet regulatory requirements. The program provides low interest or no interest loans to assist homeowners with the costs of replacing malfunctioning septic systems or cesspools. The program is managed by DNREC’s Financial Assistance Branch with technical assistance from the Ground Water Discharges Branch, in partnership with First State Community Action Agency of Georgetown/Dover. For more information contact, DNREC’s Financial Assistance Branch at 302-739-9941 or visit Septic Rehabilitation Loan Program.

For more information about the changes to the regulations, please contact:

John G. "Jack" Hayes Jr.
Environmental Scientist IV
Ground Water Discharges Section
Large Systems Branch
89 Kings Highway
Dover, DE 19901

Telephone: (302) 739-9327
FAX: (302) 739-7764 fax


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