Southern Regional Water Program

Research, Extension & Education Water Quality Programs through the Land Grant University System

Kentucky On-Site Septic Systems

For many residents of rural and suburban areas, access to public sewer systems is not available. For these individuals, some type of on-site wastewater treatment systems must be used. Options range from a traditional septic tank and drainfield system to constructed wetlands. In Kentucky, an estimated 45 percent of the state’s population relies upon on-site wastewater treatment.

The installation of on-site wastewater systems in Kentucky is regulated through the Kentucky Department for Public Health’s Environmental Management Branch. These regulations are administered through local health departments, and impact the installation of on-site systems. Beginning in 1998, new home constructions were required to have an approved on-site wastewater treatment plan before the home could be connected to electricity.

Groundwater regulations through the Kentucky Division of Water also impact the use of on-site wastewater treatment systems. Anyone using an on-site system is required to develop a groundwater protection plan. The Division of Water has developed a Generic Groundwater Protection Plan for Residential Septic Systems.

During recent years, a great deal of attention has been focused on the proper installation, use and maintenance of on-site wastewater treatment systems. The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service has developed a number of educational publications targeting wastewater issues. These publications are available through the On-Site Wastewater Treatment in Kentucky web site.

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