Who Can Design MY System? Who Should Design Your System?
Anyone can design your system, right? You will hear words tossed around like a "designer". But who can really design it? More importantly, if it costs the same to design, wouldn't you use the more professionally qualified designer?
Onsite Sewage Facilities are regulated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, or TCEQ. TCEQ administers the State Law, under the Texas Administrative Code. Specifically, for onsite systems, most of them fall under 30 TAC Chapter 285.
Chapter 285, as it is often called, is a nice legal document, divided into many sections and appendices. This document speaks to the proper procedure to plan, design, and construct an onsite sewage facilty, or septic system, as they are commonly called.
For systems over 5,000 gpd, you will probably require a Chapter 217, or a chapter 210 permit, with associated disposal permits. This process can take around 11-14 months if you have a non-discharge permit.
By law, most systems can either be designed by a Registered Professional Engineer (called a PE), which are licensed by the State of Texas, and must work for a Registered Engineering Firm, licensed by the Texas Board of Professional Engineers. The education and testing of engineers is rigorous (generally takes a minimum of 9-10 years to obtain a license), and they are licensed to design anything within their specialty, including roads, water plants, wastewater plants, bridges, etc. The other group that is able to do standard design are Registered Sanitarians (called an RS). The were originally licensed to do food inspections, health inspections of restaurants, and things of that nature. They have to have a college degree, with simply 30 credit hours of science. They then get two years of training in a very, very wide variety of subjects (from food inspections to consumer health), then take an exam. A few years ago, they were allowed to do basic septic design, for standard treatment systems, and many of them do a really fine job of this. However, they are not trained in complex hydraulics and hydrology, often required to properly and adequately design some systems. But if it costs the same to use someone with a license that takes 9 years to get, or someone that can get licensed with a non-specific degree and training in about have the time, which would you prefer to use?
For non-standard systems, as defined under 30 TAC Chapter 285, Section 285.32 Criteria for Sewage Disposal sytems, paragraph (d) is a Non-standard treatment systems. Per the Code, all OSSFs not described or defined in subsections (b) and (d) of the Code are non-standard treatment systems and must be designed by a PE or RS in accordance with 30 TAC Chapter 285.91(9). What this means is any system that is above residential class strength sewage that is being sent to a disposal field that requires less than 140 mg/L BOD requires secondary treatment. Per 285.91 (9), these systems MUST be done by a Professional Engineer ONLY.
Please see the State table, below.
Design Criteria (Click to enlarge)
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