On-site systems treat and/or discharge wastewater within the site where the wastewater originates. The most common type of on-site system is the septic system, also called a Subsurface Sewage Disposal System. In Massachusetts, the construction, upgrade and expansion of Subsurface Sewage Disposal Systems (SSDS) is regulated through 310 CMR 15.00 of the State Environmental Code, also known as Title 5.
Building a new SSDS or upgrading an existing one is very different from repairing a system that has failed. If your SSDS has failed, you are legally required to take immediate action to fix it and bring it into conformance with state and local regulations. Morse Engineering and Construction Industries, LLC (MEC) has extensive experience with the inspection, design and permitting of systems in accordance with Title 5 regulations. With every system MEC installs, we apply our in-depth knowledge of how and why systems fail to avoid using improper materials and construction techniques that would otherwise lead to premature failure of your new system.
Before construction may begin, a percolation test and soil evaluation must be performed and a design must be completed by a licensed Professional Engineer or Registered Sanitarian. Once the SSDS design is complete, it is submitted to the Approving Authority, often the local Board of Health, for review and approval. The Board of Health may take up to 45 days to review the SSDS design in accordance with MGL Chapter 111 Section 31E. Construction may not begin until the SSDS is designed, permitted and approved in accordance with state and local regulations.
Construction of a typical residential SSDS often begins with the installation of a large concrete septic tank a minimum of 10-feet away from the house foundation. The tank is sized to accommodate the amount of wastewater generated daily and often has a 1,500-gallon capacity. The tank is designed to receive wastewater from the house and hold it for a short period of time. During this detention period, the “floatables” (fats, oils, grease and some fecal constituents) float to the top, begin to decompose, and form a white-brown scum layer. This detention period also allows heavier particles to sink to the bottom of the tank, where they undergo little decomposition and become a black sludge layer. The clear space between the scum layer and sludge layer contains clarified effluent (partially treated wastewater), which is discharged from the tank when it is displaced by fresh wastewater from the house.
Downstream from the septic tank, a watertight structure that receives the clarified effluent known as a distribution box is installed. The distribution box is designed to separate the clarified effluent in substantially equal portions to distribution lines in the soil absorption system. There are many different types of soil absorption systems and they may consist of leaching trenches, perforated pipes set in stone or sand, leaching pits and cement or plastic chambers. The soil absorption system is installed per the approved design using automatic levels and grade lasers to ensure components are on grade and have the proper separation to groundwater or other subsurface features.
Once the individual components are installed and connected they must be inspected by the Design Engineer and the Board of Health. After the components are inspected they are carefully backfilled to prevent damage to the new system and the entire disturbed area is graded, covered with loam, and seeded to stabilize the site. MEC strives to maintain a neat and clean jobsite, causing as little disturbance as possible. Our team will provide a high-quality finish and restoration of all disturbed areas on your property. Once the site has been stabilized, the Design Engineer and Installer submit “As-Built” certification forms to the Board of Health which then grants the property owner a Certificate of Compliance.
The construction, upgrade and expansion of your subsurface sewage disposal system may feel like an overwhelming process but we are here to help guide you through, step by step. MEC provides septic system installation services for residential and commercial properties throughout Massachusetts, contact us at (888) 380-5298 to discuss your project and learn how MEC can take you from initial planning stages through final construction.