Wastewater Management




Because of the rural nature of Vermont, the vast majority of the state is not served by any type of municipal sewer. As such, on-site wastewater disposal systems are an essential part of Vermont.


Previously, there were several sets of rules to play by when it came to wastewater management. In 2007, the state of Vermont, Wastewater Management Division adopted universal jurisdiction over all properties and all wastewater systems.


With the onset of universal jurisdiction, many properties that were previously exempt from state permitting are no longer exempt. For most properties, if you are changing the operation of a water or wastewater system, a state permit is required.


While there is now one set of rules, the rules are complex and there is no “one size fits all” design. Please contact Long Trial Engineering, P.C. to discuss the particulars of your property.


Design: More than just perc tests


The design of an onsite wastewater system begins with the evaluation of soils in backhoe-excavated test pits. Test pits allow an engineer to evaluate the type, texture, and consistency of the soil on a property. An engineer can also estimate the depth to seasonal ground water and bedrock, two of the most critical factors when assessing the suitability of a site for wastewater.


For larger properties, a walkover survey is typically conducted before any test pits. This allows the engineer to get a better idea of the property as a whole before a backhoe is brought to the site.


Once test pits are complete, perc tests are completed. Perc tests measure the rate at which the soil can absorb water, and are used to size a wastewater system.


The last field activity required before design is the topographic survey. The topo survey is required to depict the contour elevations of the property, as well as other important features such as house locations, streams, trees, bedrock, etc.


With the field information complete, design can begin. There are generally three types of wastewater systems:

In-ground (completely buried)

At-grade (partially buried; creates a small hump in a yard)

Mound (constructed on top of existing ground; creates a large hump)


In addition, any one of these systems may use advanced treatment, which pre-treats wastewater before discharging it to the disposal field.


Once the design is complete, an application for a Potable Water Supply & Wastewater System Permit must be filed with the state Wastewater Management Division. Systems with larger flows may need additional permits.


Note: this information is provided for general informational purposes only; please contact Long Trail Engineering, P.C. to discuss how the programs might affect you in particular.