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  • Writer's pictureCarmen Hobson

Vacant Land Septic Requirement Changes

As I recently chatted with a well-respected septic consultant in Flathead County, he pointed out a few things of note that vacant land buyers need to be aware of. These items can keep you from buying a property that may not qualify for a septic system therefore rendering it pretty much worthless.

Here are a few things being strongly enforced by DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality), and/or Flathead County Environmental Health:

1. In order for a septic permit to be issued by Flathead County, the property in question must first have any DEQ sanitary restriction removed. This is getting more difficult, with well isolation zones of 100’, and a few others requirements. If you’re looking at an acre lot or smaller, that does’t have a public water system, it’s going to be tricky to get septic approval, as there’s typically not enough space to place both well and septic on the lot and keep the required isolation zones.

2. Septic approvals are only good for one year from the date they are issued. When you see a listing that states the property has septic approval, you need to dig deeper and research if that approval was DEQ, county, and how long ago. Permits and previous approvals will need to be updated if over a year old, and there is no guarantee that the property will qualify for an update.

3. Septics not of record are not “illegal”, simply non-conforming. That means that if that system fails, or if you want to add bedrooms during a remodel, you’ll need to contact Flathead County Environmental Health Department to find out if and how you can either update or retrofit an old, undocumented system. Typically, that system will require a full replacement, so buyer beware. Those are a few of the major items to watch out for, and your best avenue for information is to contact Flathead County Environmental Health Department, or a reputable septic consultant. Do your due diligence, be wise in your decision making, and you’ll find a great property that will suit your needs, without causing you a headache!

Carmen Hobson

Broker/Owner, Touchstone Real Estate

Whitefish, Montana

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