Well and Septic Systems in Summit County, Colorado

Breckenridge, Keystone, Frisco, Silverthorne, Dillon, Copper Mountain

Septic and Well Inspections


Some of the mountain homes here in Summit County, Colorado have a private well and septic system. When procuring a home loan, many banks and lending institutions require well flow tests and septic inspections. When possible, these are inspected as part of my home inspection. 
A well flow test consists of running the water for an hour ( not into the septic system ) and recording the pressure and gallons per minute. This is not a well recovery test and does not determine well production. Also, inspecting the tank and well equipment for rust, broken gauges, leaks etc. Pulling the well pump is expensive, something buyers, sellers and real estate people do not want to pay for.  A septic inspection consists of pulling the tank lids to observe the effluent levels,

A septic inspection consists of pulling the tank lids to observe the effluent levels, condition of the baffles, and the amount of solids present on the surface. If the drain field has inspection ports, these are also inspected. Many older homes do not have inspection ports but the system is considered functional if effluent has not surfaced. Well and septic inspections are a snapshot in time, and there is no guarantee that these systems will not fail in the future.

 Summit County, Colorado Onsite Water Treat Systems Regulation

Search Summit County Colorado Permits

Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (OWTS)

Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems in Summit County

Summit County's population has increased dramatically over the past 30 years, placing a growing demand on the county's infrastructures. Although public sewage treatment facilities serve the majority of Summit County residents, many others rely on onsite wastewater treatment systems (OWTS or septic systems). Such systems, if constructed and maintained properly, provide a reliable and efficient means of wastewater treatment and disposal at a relatively low cost.

To ensure the aesthetic integrity of an area surrounding an On Site Wastewater Treatment System and to prevent health hazards presented by a malfunctioning OWTS, the Environmental Health Department issues OWTS permits (pdf) and conducts inspections of the installation of all new OWTS and repairs to existing systems in Summit County. Read the OWTS information packet (pdf) for requirements. 

Most systems in the county are designed, or may be required to be designed by an Licensed Engineer (pdf). All OWTS construction, repair or upgrade must be performed by a Licensed OWTS Contractor (pdf).

Maintaining Your Onsite Wastewater Treatment System

Installation of the average four-bedroom OWTS costs around $20,000. The average life for these systems is 30 years, but can vary from over 40 years to only 10 years. The best way to make sure your system lasts as long as possible is to properly maintain it. Simple practices such as proper pumping, fixing leaking fixtures, and not over-occupying a home can significantly lengthen the life of your system. Please refer to the Operation and Maintenance Manual (pdf) for more information. Your system should be pumped regularly by a Licensed OWTS Pumper (pdf).

Abandonment of an Onsite Wastewater Treatment System

The Summit County onsite wastewater treatment system regulations require that when a property formerly served by an onsite wastewater system is connected to a public works sewage-treatment service, the septic tank shall be properly abandoned within 180 days of the connection. 

Abandonment of an old tank is also required when a septic tank is replaced. 

Requirements for abandonment of a septic tank:  

  • The septic tank shall be pumped by a licensed septic tank cleaner.
  • The septic tank shall either be removed and properly disposed of or the tank bottom broken and the tank filled with soil or rock.
  • The Environmental Health Department shall be provided with proof of pumping of the tank and a statement outlining how the tank was abandoned

OWTS Use Permits

Permit for continued use of an existing Onsite Wastewater Treatment System

The life expectancy of an onsite wastewater treatment system is about 30 years. Many systems in the County are approaching or exceed this threshold. With 10-20% of systems found to be malfunctioning, this is could be a serious problem. In an effort to keep the County's ground water supply safe, this law was adopted to aide in identifying malfunctioning systems.  

A Use Permit is required at point of sale and/or major remodel of all properties which utilize an onsite wastewater treatment system.  An inspection shall be conducted of the system and a Use Permit shall be issued based on the inspection results.  In cases of malfunction repairs will be required prior to issuing the Use Permit.

This law is a beneficial tool to the Environmental Health Department in detecting malfunctioning onsite wastewater treatment systems.  It also benefits both the buyer and seller involved in a property transaction. The buyer benefits by knowing that the system has been inspected and necessary corrections have been made. The seller benefits by having the condition of the system documented for prospective buyers.

Certified Use Permit Inspectors 

Use Permit Inspectors are certified (NAWT or equivalent) and approved by this Department. Only theseApproved Use Permit Inspectors are authorized to perform the Use Permit Inspections.

The Use Permit Inspector you choose should provide you with the portion of the inspection form to be completed by owner or agent. The inspector will conduct the inspection and submit the report to Environmental Health for review and subsequent issuance or denial of the Use Permit.

In the case of a malfunctioning system, other forms may be required before the Use Permit can be issued. Copies of the forms used in these instances are below. Please contact Environmental Health with further questions regarding Use Permit requirements.

Operating Permits

OWTS Operating Permits
Summit County OWTS Regulations require owners of Higher Level Treatment (HLT) Systems to maintain an Operating Permit with the Department for the life of the system. These systems must be maintained by a certified wastewater professional or they will fail. Failure can lead to tens of thousands of dollars in repairs and environmental pollution.

In order to obtain this permit, the home owner will submit an application, the required fees and a contract demonstrating that they have a qualified professional overseeing the system performance. 

Owners of HLT systems will be required to obtain an Operating Permit:
  1. At the time of system installation, repair, alteration, or upgrade,
  2. At the time of the expiration of the operation and maintenance service contract,
  3. When a transfer of the property occurs, and
  4. By July 1, 2017 for existing HLT systems
Owners will be notified in writing of the need to obtain the permit and given reasonable time to comply. Failure to obtain or renew an Operating Permit will result in the owner being assessed financial penalties due to the risk of environmental pollution.

An Operating Permit is effective for the term of the maintenance contract so it benefits the owner to agree to a longer term contract. 
For more information on Operating Permits call the office at 970 668-4070. 

OWTS Resources

Forms commonly needed to apply for an Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS) Permit:

Licensed Professionals to design, install and maintain your OWTS:

Use Permit Forms:

Related Documents & Forms:


Summit County Colorado Environmental Health Manager:

Physical Address
P.O. Box 5660
0037 Peak One Drive
FriscoCO 80443

Phone: (970) 668-4070

Fax: (970) 668-4255

Here are examples of pricing (subject to change) from Colorado Mountain Home Inspection LLC:

Colorado Mountain Home Inspection LLC    
PO Box 453, Fairplay, Co.80440
Home Inspections in Park, Chaffee, Lake, Summit, Teller and El Paso counties

Well and Septic Inspection Prices

 How to calculate your home inspection prices? 

Well pressure and flow test, and septic inspection ( when possible and tank lids are exposed ) are included with the home inspection.

UP to 2,000 sqft                                                        $375.00
2,001 to 3,000sqft                                                      $415.00
3,001 to 4,000sqft                                                      $495.00
4,001 and up call for a quote......

RADON test 48 hr.                                                       $150.00 per test

Complete Water quality                                               $150.00 per test

Mold: site visit and visual analysis $275.00
Lab test fees: $50.00 each.                                                                            


 permit search                                                               $50.00

Air pressure test of water pipes                                      $50.00

Infrared scan of insulation and in floor heating
with home inspection:                                                   $100.00

Snowbridge, Inc.

Snowbridge Inc. is a family-owned and operated wastewater company. Founded in 1976, Snowbridge Inc. is owned and managed by Bill and Chris Tatro. We provide residential, commercial, industrial and municipal jetting and televising services, trenchless pipe lining and pipe bursting in Colorado and surrounding states as well as septic system installation in the Central Mountain Region. Our specialties include trenchless pipe repair, point repairs, commercial/industrial pipe & basin cleaning, vactor service, crawler camera video inspections, hydro and traditional excavating work.

We have served the septic drain cleaning, pipe repair, and plumbing repair needs of the central Rocky Mountain for over 40 years. With the addition of trenchless pipe repair and excavating services in 2004, Snowbridge has expanded to serve Colorado and surrounding states with trenchless repair needs.

We are proud members of NEHA (National Environmental Health Association), CPOW (Colorado Professionals in Onsite Wastewater), NOWRA (National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association), NAWT (National Association of Wastewater Technicians), and is an accredited business of the Better Business Bureau.

Our facility is located in beautiful Breckenridge, Colorado.  With the specialized work that we offer, we work in the entire state of Colorado and Colorado’s surrounding states.

Snowbridge Inc. is a family-owned and operated wastewater company. 1-800-426-6827


13097 Hwy 9, Breckenridge, CO 80424



Snowbridge Inc. provides Residential, Commercial, Industrial & Municipal pipe-line services for Colorado and surrounding states.

Commercial and Industrial Sewer Cleaning and Jetting

High Pressure Thawing
Video Line Inspection and Locating
Line Cleaning
Tractor Camera Services for Pipelines from 6″ to 60″

Pipe lining – 2″-8″ Cured in Place Pipe Lining for Sewers, Swimming Pools, Conduits, Etc.
Pipe bursting – Complete Pipe Replacement, Pipe Up-Sizing
Point Repairs – 1.5″- 36″ in diameter, with lengths from 18″ up to 1
Connection Lining – Lateral tap to main line connection. Repair cracks, Root and water infiltration.
Manhole/Vault Rehabilitation – structurally repair degrading manholes, vaults, lift stations etc. coating is impervious to Hydrogen Sulfide and other sewer gases. Eliminates ground water infiltration and roots.

Confined Space Work
Preventative Maintenance Programs
High Pressure Jet/Vac Services
Tractor Camera Services for Piping 6″ to 60″ up to 1100 ft in length
Hydro Excavating Services

The Water Quality Control Division (the Division) at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment regulates the discharge of wastewater from all septic systems in Colorado with design capacities greater than 2,000 gallons per day. Under Regulation No. 61, Colorado Discharge Permit System Regulations, owners or operators of septic systems rated above 2,000 gallons per day are required to obtain a wastewater discharge permit from the WQCD. Discharge permit application forms are available for download at: https://www.cdphe.state.co.us/wq/PermitsUnit/IandD/index.html.

This guidance document provides suggested practices for properly operating and maintaining septic systems in order to comply with typical requirements of a septic system discharge permit. The document is not all inclusive and should be used only as a guide in meeting the Division’s compliance expectations. 

Suggested Practices:

• Properly operate and manage the wastewater treatment system at no greater than its maximum treatment capacity. Ensure that average influent flow to the septic system, does not exceed system’s design “average daily flow.” Ensure the maximum daily flow does not exceed the system’s design “maximum daily flow.” Keep a logbook to demonstrate the average and maximum daily flows for each month of operation

. • Maintain a logbook to demonstrate proper operation and maintenance of all facilities and systems of treatment and control.

• Inspect the scum level and sludge level in each septic tank in order to know when the particular septic tank needs to be pumped. Know the distance from the bottom of the septic tank to the bottom of the outlet baffle in a single cell tank or to the bottom of the pass through opening in a divided septic tank. ™ In a single cell septic tank: ƒ If the bottom of the scum mat is within three inches of the bottom of the outlet baffle, the scum is to be removed. ƒ If the distance from the bottom of the outlet baffle to the top of the sludge is 12 inches, the sludge is to be removed. ™ In a divided septic tank that has a pass through opening, the scum is to be removed when the level is within 3 inches of the bottom of the opening. If pass through occurs via an “L” shaped pipe, scum is to be removed when the level is within three inches of the top of the tank. ™ In a divided septic tank, if the distance from the bottom of the pass-through opening is 12 inches or less the sludge is to be pumped immediately.

• Do NOT wash out or disinfect the septic tank after removing the contents of the septic tank. It is recommended that a small residual of sludge be left in the tank for seeding purposes. The scum and sludge are to be removed and disposed of by applicable regulations of any state or federal agency having jurisdiction.

• If the treatment system has a grease trap, properly inspect and maintain the trap. Grease coming from a Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Water Quality Control Division Page 2 of 3 kitchens in a restaurant or cafeteria is not allowed to flow directly into the septic tank. The discharge from a garbage disposal should not pass through a grease trap.

• In general, the addition of chemicals to a septic tank is not recommended. Small amounts of household chemicals are not considered harmful. Moderation is essential to avoid adverse impacts upon the septic tank sludge and upon the soil of the leach field.

• Do NOT send the flow from roof drains, foundation drains or other sources of drainage to the septic tank or the leach field.

• Avoid sending paper towels, newspaper, wrapping paper, rags and sticks to the septic tanks. Waste brines from household water softener units have no adverse effect on the action of the septic tank, but may cause a slight shortening of the life of a disposal field installed in clay type soil. If the permittee is not certain of the soil type, it is recommended the waste brine be disposed of in a different manner than flushing it into the septic system. Brine disposal must also be done in accordance with applicable federal, state and local requirements.

• Make every effort to prevent hazardous waste, toxic waste or septage from entering the wastewater treatment facility.

• Inspect leachfields on a regular basis. Determine the water level in “inspection pipes”. Record the depth of the water level in the pipes. If the water level rises in successive readings, it is suggestive that leachfield may not be draining as designed. Also, inspect for any seeps coming from the sides of the leach field or ponding on top of the filed. Should either situation occur, it is indicative that the leachfield has failed and repairs need to be initiated as quickly as possible. Maintain a log of the inspection dates and the name of the person performing inspection

. • Inspect manholes on a periodic basis to ensure that snowmelt and sheet flow from rainstorms is not flowing into the manhole. Maintain a log of the inspection dates and the name of the person performing inspection.

• If the facility has a lift station, perform an inspection on a routine basis of the lift station and the pumps contained therein. Maintain a log of any problems and repairs have been made, including a description of the repair, the date the repair(s) were made and the person or entity

that made the repair. • Calibrate the flow measuring device (and sensor) on an annual basis. Maintain a “report form” to present the results of the flow accuracy verification testing. The report form may be required to be submitted to the Division within twenty-eight days after accuracy testing/verification. It is suggested that the report form provide the date and name of the person(s) making the accuracy Check/Calculation for the influent/effluent flow meter. The report form is to contain the date and time of the test, the air and water temperatures, the method of measuring actual flow into/out of the facility, the amount of gallons measured by meter, plus a calculation or a computer print out demonstrating conformance to the “within 10% of actual flow” requirement. Perform a minimum of one annual on-site flow verification during one of the winter months, when the outside temperature is at or near freezing. During the next year, perform a minimum of one annual on-site flow verification during the summer months, when the temperature is near/above 90 degrees F. Maintain flow accuracy verification on alternating years and alternating seasons. • Maintain a log to document the description of any operational problems with the facility during the year, such as power outages, failures of mechanical components, overflows, flow meter problems, lagoon fences, etc. Include any preventive maintenance activities undertaken during the year such as removal of sludge from the cells, and repairs made to the facility. • Verify the elevation of measuring mark on the monitoring wells. The elevations are to be referenced to local benchmarks. The Division may request drawings illustrating the location and elevation of the bench mark(s) plus the elevation of the measuring mark on each of the monitoring wells be submitted after completion of the survey. The elevation of the measuring marks for each monitoring well should be re-surveyed on an annual Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Water Quality Control Division Page 3 of 3 basis or after any mishap/alteration that would result in an elevation change at the measuring mark. Include all of this information a logbook. • Proper and timely completion and submission of the Discharge Monitoring Reporting Forms (DMR) should be done on a monthly/quarterly basis, or as required in the permit. Keep a logbook with all required DMR forms required under the permit. 

Bret-Meredith-Amon, The Amon Team. Summit County, CO real estate experts

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