Innovative Alternative Septic Systems

for Massachusetts

Maintenance and Repair

Operation & Maintenance (O&M) Contract

Because I/A on-site systems are more complex than conventional septic tank systems, Title 5 has special requirements for their installation and maintenance: System owners must have in place for the life of the system a maintenance contract with a Certified Wastewater Operator specifically licensed in Massachusetts. The manufacturer or distributor of your I/A system should be able to provide you with names of Certified Operators trained to maintain their systems. You can also contact your local Board of Health for names of Certified Operators working in your area.
  • Plans for operation and maintenance, monitoring and testing must be submitted to the local Board of Health (and in some cases to MassDEP) for approval prior to start-up of the system. Inspection and sampling must be performed in accordance with the technology or system approval issued by the local Board of Health or DEP.

  • Certified Operators must use the MassDEP-approved Inspection and O&M Form and technology-specific checklist to record inspection results. System owners are responsible for the form being submitted to their local Board of Health and in some cases to MassDEP.

Testing the Effluent

  • Periodic testing of the system's effluent may also be required, and the system owner is responsible for the results being sent to the local Board of Health and MassDEP. All performance data collected under an approved testing plan must be submitted on the reports; it is a violation of Title 5 to omit or alter any results of testing done under an approved sampling plan.

  • Analysis of the samples must be done by an approved testing laboratory unless otherwise allowed by the Board of Health or MassDEP. Your Certified Operator will have a list of approved testing laboratories, and typically will arrange for testing.

  • Typically, I/A systems must be sampled quarterly for the following:
    • pH
    • Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD)
    • Total Suspended Solids (TSS)

    Systems located in nitrogen-sensitive areas may also require testing for Total Nitrogen (TN).

  • If test results demonstrate adequate performance for a reasonable period of time, MassDEP allows system owners to request a reduction in sampling frequency.

Repairing an I/A System

When an I/A system breaks down or fails, the owner must either repair or replace the failed component or system, just as with a conventional septic system. Options include:
  • Repair or replace the component. In some instances, manufacturer warranties may apply.
  • Replace the unit with another I/A technology.
  • Install a tight tank.
  • Replace with a conventional septic system, if feasible.
Until a system is repaired or replaced, the Board of Health and/or MassDEP can order interim measures to protect public health and the environment.