Septic System (Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems, OWTS) Permit Information

Who needs a permit for a septic system?

Every new or replacement septic system requires a permit, either through your local jurisdiction (City or County) OR from the Central Coast Water Board.

Septic systems where any of the following applies are required to obtain a permit from the Central Coast Water Board:

  • New or replacement septic systems that do not meet the requirements of Tier 1 of the OWTS Policy.
  • New or replacement septic systems in Santa Barbara County or Monterey County’s jurisdiction that do not meet the conditions and requirements set forth in an approved Local Agency Management Program (currently Santa Barbara County and Monterey County have approved programs) or Tier 1 of the OWTS Policy.
  • Have a projected flow of over 3,500 gallons-per-day and located outside of Santa Barbara County or Monterey County's jurisdiction. Note the maximum flow under Tier 1 of the OWTS Policy is 3,500 gallons-per-day.
  • Receives high-strength wastewater, unless the waste stream is from a commercial food service building.
  • Receives high-strength wastewater from a commercial food service building: (1) with a BOD higher than 900 mg/L, or (2) that does not have a properly sized and functioning oil/grease interceptor.
  • Septic systems that receive significant amounts of wastes from RV holding tanks.

Does a repair need a permit?

Repairs that do not need a permit from the Central Coast Water Board:

  • Minor repairs (e.g., replacement of a distribution box, broken piping connection, septic tank lid).
  • Major repairs for systems that comply with the siting and design standards of Tier 1 of the OWTS Policy or the conditions and requirements set forth in an approved Local Agency Management Program (currently Santa Barbara County and Monterey County have approved programs). Some examples of major repairs include baffle failure, tank structural integrity failure, or the dispersal system no longer adequately percolating the wastewater.

For repairs that do not meet either of the two bullet points listed above, either authorization or a permit is required from the Central Coast Water Board. Please contact the Central Coast Water Board at RB3-WDR@waterboards.ca.gov to see if your repair qualifies for an authorization letter or if needs a permit. There is no cost for an authorization letter.

What is the process to apply for a permit?

Permit applicants should submit the following:

Other Frequently Asked Questions

How do I stay updated on Septic and OWTS policy information?

To sign up for our interested parties list to receive announcements on septic system permitting, complete our email subscription form and select "Septic Systems".