Property owners must have a site evaluation
conducted by DEQ or a locally run onsite program inspector to determine if a parcel is suitable for a septic system
. Depth to groundwater, soil types, setbacks, landscape position of the property and local geology are all factors. Not all parcels of land are suitable for septic systems.
A variance may be initiated after the onsite program inspector finds the property is unsuitable for siting an onsite septic system. The site evaluation report will outline reasons for denial and cite the applicable rules.
A property owner or consultant may then submit to DEQ a complete variance application
. The applicant must demonstrate that the variance from state rule is warranted, and that the proposed system would adequately function to safeguard public health and the environment. Variance approval is not guaranteed, and fees are non-refundable.
A DEQ variance officer will review the proposal and other application materials, conduct a site visit, consider site-specific conditions and hold a public hearing. The decision to approve or deny a variance application is based on the information presented in the proposal and the requirements and purpose of DEQ's regulations. The variance officer will issue a decision on the variance within 45 days of the hearing close date.
Property owners may appeal variance denials in Circuit Court. The general public may appeal variance approvals to the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission.