Town of Orleans, MA
Barnstable County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Adopted 12-18-2003, effective 2-23-2004[1]; amended in its entirety 11-2-2017, effective 1-1-2018]
[1]
Editor's Note: These regulations also replaced former Art. III, Subsurface Sewage Disposal, adopted 2-23-1988, effective 3-1-1988.
A) 
The Subsurface Sewage Disposal Regulations of the Town of Orleans Board of Health are to replace all previous Town of Orleans rules and regulations for subsurface sewage disposal.
B) 
These regulations are adopted in accordance with the provisions of MGL, C. 111, S 31, as amended, and are being adopted to supplement, and augment the provisions of Title 5 of the State Environmental Code.
The purpose of these regulations is to allow the Orleans Board of Health to protect the public health, safety and environment of the Town of Orleans by requiring proper siting, construction, upgrade and maintenance of on-site sewage disposal systems and appropriate means for the transportation, storage and disposal of septage.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
BACKFILL
(Cover Material) The soils placed on top of a soil absorption system to bring the area to finished grade. Backfill shall be free from large stones, clay, frozen chunks of earth, masonry, tree stumps and waste construction material.
BASEMENT/CELLAR
A room or area partially or completely below grade with a minimum clear ceiling height of six feet eight inches except under beams, girders, ducts or other obstructions where the clear height shall be a minimum of six feet four inches.
BEDROOM
Any portion of a dwelling which meets the Minimum Standards of Fitness for Human Habitation (Chapter II) and is designed to furnish the minimum isolation necessary for use as a sleeping area, and includes, but is not limited to, bedroom, den, study, sewing room, sleeping loft or enclosed porch, but does not include kitchen, bathroom, dining room, halls, living room, sun porch (as defined in these regulations) or unfinished basement. For the purposes of this regulation a room with a 6' (minimum) cased opening that opens directly into another habitable room or a hallway that leads to a habitable room is not considered isolated. Cased openings must not be fitted with a door. Rooms that do not meet the strict definition of a bedroom must be reviewed by the Board of Health on a case by case basis.
CESSPOOL
A pit with open-jointed linings or holes in the bottom and/or sidewalls into which raw sewage is discharged, the liquid portion of the sewage being disposed of by seeping or leaching into the surrounding soils, and the solids or sludge being retained in the pit. Cesspools are nonconforming failed systems.
CRAWL SPACE
An area partially or completely below grade with a maximum clear ceiling height of less than six feet eight inches except for under beams, girders, ducts or other obstructions where the clear height shall be less than six feet four inches.
DENITRIFYING SEPTIC COMPONENTS
I/A components that have general Use Approval, Provisional Use Approval or Pilot Approval, in good standing from the DEP for Nitrogen Credit. The term "in good standing" means that the product currently has DEP approval for Nitrogen Credit.
DRAINAGE SYSTEM
A drainage system is a system used primarily for the collection and conveyance of storm water runoff, including but not limited to, all receiving basins, retention ponds and their associated piping.
FAILURE OF A SEPTIC SYSTEM
Any septic system shall be considered to have failed when any of the following are met:
1) 
Any component does not function as intended.
2) 
The system causes effluent to be discharged to the surface of the ground, stream or other watercourse.
3) 
Any component is pumped to remove septage more than twice in any twelve month period, except grease traps which may be pumped in accordance with Title 5, 310, 15.351 (2) and systems serving laundromats, restaurants, food service or other establishments determined to be a high water user by the Board of Health and which is pumped frequently. Septic systems serving high water uses shall be reviewed on a case-by-case basis with respect to failure criteria.
4) 
Any of its components consist of a privy, cesspool or a converted cesspool which have been identified during an inspection for the sale of property, a change in use or for a building permit resulting in an increase in flow, increase in square footage or a change of footprint.
5) 
The soil absorption system lacks a two foot protective zone between the bottom of the system and the maximum groundwater elevation.
6) 
A system has any other problem as defined by the Board of Health or its agent which fails to protect the public health and safety and the environment.
FOOTPRINT/SQUARE FOOTAGE
The footprint of a structure includes buildings, porches and bulkheads but excludes decks or permanent structures which do not have roofs. For the purposes of a residential dwelling, an increase in square footage shall be considered an increase in habitable space.
NEW SEPTIC SYSTEM
One which is installed, upgraded or altered to serve a newly constructed building, a building being renovated, remodeled or added on to, or one which is constructed, modified or altered to handle an increase in sewage flow as required by changes is the building's use.
PRIVY
A structure used for the disposal of human wastes without water transport consisting of a shelter built over an unlined pit or vault in the ground into which waste is deposited. A privy is a nonconforming system.
REPAIR TO A FAILED SEPTIC SYSTEM
The replacement of a component(s) to provide a working system of the same sewage flow.
RESTAURANT - Informal Seating
A seat at a food service establishment which is not located in a designated and/or isolated dining area, at which you cannot consume alcohol, use reusable tableware, provide waitpersons/table service, or serve food on open plates. All food to be consumed at an informal seat must be pre-packaged in a bag or other to-go containers.
RESTAURANT SEAT - Fast food
Service and/or consumption of food at a seat placed at tables, booths, or counters on the premises in which single service table ware, glass ware or utensils are used.
RESTAURANT SEAT - Full service
Service and or consumption of food at a seat placed at tables, booths, or counters on the premises in which reusable table ware, glass ware or utensils are used.
RESTAURANT SEAT - Tavern
A seat in an establishment whose primary business is the sale of beer and other drinks to be consumed on the premises and in which the sale of food is incidental to the primary business. Taverns that engage in the sale of full meals shall be deemed to be full service restaurants.
SUBDIVISION
The division of a tract of land into two or more lots and shall include re-subdivisions and, when appropriate to the context, shall relate to the process of subdivision or to the land or territory subdivided; provided, however, that a plan which meets the requirements of an Approval Not Required Plan, as defined by the Orleans Planning Board Subdivision Regulations, shall not constitute a subdivision.
SUN (PORCH) ROOM
A room designed to have a minimum of 40% glazed area (window area) of the total combined exterior wall and ceiling area of the room. In calculating the total glazed area only the translucent or transparent window area should be considered (rough opening or unit dimension shall not be considered). Rooms that do not meet the strict definition of a sunroom must be reviewed by the Board of Health on a case by case basis.
WETLAND (as defined in Title 5, 15.002 and the Orleans Conservation Commission's Wetland Protection By-Law)
Any natural or man-made stream, pond, lake, wetland, coastal wetland, swamp or other body of water and shall include wet meadows, marshes, swamps, bogs and areas where groundwater, flowing or standing surface water or ice, provides a significant part of the supporting substrate for a plant community for at least five months of the year.
Swamp shall mean areas where groundwater is at or near the surface of the ground for a significant part of the growing season or where runoff water from surface drainage frequently collects above the soil surface.
Coastal wetland shall mean any bank, marsh, swamp, flat or other lowland subject to tidal action.
(A). 
Disposal System Construction.
1) 
Permit Application:
a) 
Every application for a Disposal System Construction Permit shall be accompanied by:
[1] 
A completed permit application.
[2] 
A permit fee as established by the Board of Health.
[3] 
A minimum of four copies of plans and specifications as required by Title 5 Section 15.220. Such plans must bear the stamp and signature of a Massachusetts Registered Professional Engineer or a Massachusetts Registered Sanitarian.
[4] 
A floor plan of the facility to be served by the proposed sewage disposal system. Such floor plans shall label the rooms or uses of each area inside the facility.
b) 
Expiration: Disposal System Construction Permits shall be valid for three years from the date of issuance. If construction is not completed within the three year period of date of issuance, the permit shall expire. For the purpose of this regulation a completed septic system is defined as one that has all components installed per the approved plan and is connected to the foundation wall of the structure that it is to serve.
c) 
Statement of Condition: RESERVED
2) 
Building/Plumbing Permits/Subdivisions/Divisions:
a) 
New Construction. No building permit shall be issued by the Town of Orleans for the construction of any structure or building used for human occupancy unless a permit to construct a private, on-site sewage disposal system has been issued by the Orleans Board of Health or The Department of Environmental Protection.
b) 
Construction of Addition or Alteration. No building permit shall be issued by the Town of Orleans for the addition to or alteration of any building which will increase the sewage flow without an inspection of the septic system in accordance with Title 5 and Board of Health approval of the adequacy of the sewage disposal system.
c) 
Subdivisions and Divisions. The creation of a subdivision of five (5) or more lots or the division of a tract of land into five (5) or more lots shall be served by a shared or common septic system that provides nitrogen removing technology. The system may be located anywhere within the subdivision or division including the open space, if any, subject to all applicable rules, regulations and laws. The nitrogen removing technology shall remove nitrogen to a minimum of 10ppm discharge or 5ppm at the lot line.
3) 
Monitoring of Innovative/Alternative On-Site Sewage Treatment Facilities. Owners and operators of all Innovative/Alternative sewage treatment technologies are required to report the results of all operation, maintenance, and monitoring activities to the Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment. Such reporting must be performed in the manner specified by Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment and must occur within 30 days after each maintenance or monitoring event. Further, when a system operator performs a system inspection and finds that a sewage treatment technology has malfunctioning components which have compromised the system's ability to treat sewage as designed, the operator shall report on the system's status and any planned corrective actions to the Board of Health and Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment within 48 hours of inspection.
4) 
Certificate of Compliance:
a) 
Residential. Prior to the issuance of a Certificate of Compliance, the Disposal System Installer shall submit an as-built card and shall certify in writing that the system has been constructed in compliance with 310 CMR 15.000 and the Orleans Board of Health Regulations for Subsurface Sewage Disposal, and the approved plans. In addition the designer of the system shall inspect the system including its location, elevation and soil conditions and certify in writing that the septic system has been constructed in compliance with 310 CMR 15.000 and the Orleans Board of Health Regulations for Subsurface Sewage Disposal, and the approved plans. Any changes to the design plans must be approved by the Board of Health or its agents and be submitted to the Board of Health on an as-built plan prepared by the system designer.
b) 
Commercial. Prior to the issuance of a Certificate of Compliance, the Disposal System Installer shall submit an as-built plan and shall certify in writing the system has been constructed in compliance with 310 CMR 15.000 and the Orleans Board of Health Regulations for Subsurface Sewage Disposal, and the approved plans. In addition, the designer of the system shall inspect the system and submit an as-built plan depicting the system components location, elevation and certify in writing that the septic system has been constructed in compliance with 310 CMR 15.000 and the Orleans Board of Health Regulations for Subsurface Sewage Disposal, and the approved plans including a statement regarding the soil conditions in the area of the soil absorption system. Any changes to the design plans must be approved by the Board of Health or its agents and be submitted to the Board of Health on an as-built plan prepared by the system designer.
c) 
Condition. The certificate of compliance shall be expressly subject to the statement of conditions set forth in Section IV(A)(c) above.
5) 
Inspection of Installation:
The Board of Health requires all new and repair construction of a subsurface sewage disposal system (SSDS) to be inspected by an agent of the Board of Health before backfilling. A request for an inspection must be made within twenty-four hours of the completion of the installation. All subsurface sewage disposal systems shall be backfilled within seven days after installation has been approved by the Health Agent.
(B). 
Materials.
1) 
Sewer piping extending through a building foundation to a septic tank and from a septic tank through a D-box to the leaching facility, shall be constructed of cast iron or Schedule 40 PVC piping, or their equivalent as per 248 CMR, Board of State Examiners of Plumbers and Gas Fitters.
2) 
All material for repairs to a SSDS, involving the replacement of components or piping, must be repaired in a manner that all new components or piping installed must be connected directly to cast iron or PVC piping, or their equivalent. Connection to any other type of pipe shall not be allowed without the written approval of the Board of Health.
(C). 
Location.
1) 
Except where required for compliance with Section IV, A, 2, c Subdivisions, all components of a subsurface sewage disposal system shall be located on the same lot as the facility/structure they serve.
2) 
Proximity to Wetlands.
On land adjoining lakes, ponds, streams, drainage ditches, tidal waters and flats, sewage disposal systems and any component thereof, shall comply with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, DEP, Title 5. Leaching facilities shall terminate not less than 100 feet from the edge of the wetlands (as determined by the Conservation Commission) and any wetland within 150 feet of the SSDS must be shown on the septic system plan.
(D). 
Setbacks.
In addition to the requirements set forth in Title 5 no sewage disposal facility shall be closer than the distances stated to the components listed in the following table.
Septic Tank
(feet)
Soil Absorption System
(feet)
From well (potable supply)
50
100
From well (non-potable supply)
10
25
From wetland
50
100
From a drainage system discharging into a watercourse
50
50
From a cellar wall
10
20
From a crawl space
10
20
From a slab foundation
10
10
(E). 
Alteration of wetlands.
If a wetland in the Town of Orleans has been filled, relocated or altered, it shall continue to be defined as a wetland in the design of a SSDS.
(F). 
Reserve Areas.
1) 
Reserve Area Required for Repairs and Upgrades. Reserve areas shall be provided, if feasible, for repairs and upgrades of existing systems where no increase in design flow or square footage of the facility is proposed. However, if site conditions preclude the ability to set aside a dedicated reserve area, no variance will be required.
2) 
Leaching Field. There shall be a minimum of four feet between the sidewalls of the designed primary leaching field and the designed reserve area for a future leaching field.
3) 
Trenches, Pits, Galley and Chambers. A reserve area sufficient to replace the capacity of the original soil absorption system must be provided. This reserve area, for all systems other than a leaching field, shall be designed so that the distance between the sidewalls of a reserve area and the leaching area shall be at least equal to one-half of the effective width or the effective depth of the leaching facility, whichever is greater.
(G). 
Expansion or Change In Use of a Facility.
1) 
A system shall be inspected per the provisions of Title 5 and these regulations upon any change in use or expansion in use of the facility served.
2) 
A system shall be evaluated by a qualified Professional Engineer or Registered Sanitarian who shall determine if the system complies with Title 5 and the Orleans Board of Health Regulations and is adequate for the proposed use.
3) 
When reviewing a proposal for a change of use or expansion of use of a facility that would increase the daily sewage flow, the septic tank shall be sized to have a minimum effective capacity of 200% of the design flow or a minimum hydraulic detention flow of 48 hours.
4) 
If review of the system indicates one or more of the components are not adequate for the use to be placed upon it, all of the components of the system must be upgraded to meet the provisions of Title 5 and the Orleans Subsurface Sewage Disposal Regulations.
(H). 
Requirements for Monitoring of Alternative Septic Technologies.
In considering the permitting and use of various alternative septic treatment technologies the Board of Health recognizes that there may be specific local circumstances which warrant the Board to require more stringent conditions for the installation and monitoring of these alternative systems than may be required by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. As allowed under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 111, section 31 and as required by the revised 310 CMR 15.000 sections 15.285(2d), 15.286(5), and 15.288(4), the Board of Health hereby reserves the right to impose any additional conditions or monitoring requirements it views as necessary to ensure the safe performance of any alternative onsite septic system which the board agrees to permit in the Town of Orleans.
(I). 
Septic System Additives.
The use of enzymes, acids, alkalies, degreasers or other additives in any cesspool is prohibited unless specific permission is granted by the Board of Health.
A) 
Equipment. All equipment for the transportation and disposal of privy, cesspool, leaching facility and septic tank contents must be inspected and approved by the Board of Health once a year prior to the issuance of a license.
B) 
Permits. No person shall engage in the pumping or transportation of the contents of privies, cesspools, septic tanks or other offensive substances without first obtaining a permit from the Board of Health in accordance with MGL C. 111, Section 31A and 310 CMR 15.502(1). In issuing this permit, the Board of Health will review and approve the method of pumping to be used as well as the equipment to be used. The Board of Health will accept the pumping of privy, cesspool, leaching facilities and septic tank contents as the only method of cleaning and maintaining a subsurface sewage disposal system (SSDS). Any other method of cleaning, alteration, repair or new construction of a SSDS will require a Disposal Works Construction Permit from the Board of Health.
C) 
Transfer Facilities. No person shall transfer septage from one vehicle to another or develop a septage transfer facility without the approval of the Board of Health. In reviewing a proposal for such a facility the Board of Health shall consider, at a minimum:
1) 
The impact on the environment including ground water protection, odors, noise, traffic, methods for transfer and containment structure (150% capacity of the volume of septage stored on site).
2) 
A contingency plan including a notification protocol for any release of septage, freezing temperatures and mechanical failure.
3) 
Impacts on surrounding areas including traffic patterns and hours of operation.
A) 
Standard of Review
1) 
Variances to the provisions of 310 CMR 15.000 and the Orleans Board of Health Regulations for Subsurface Sewage Disposal shall be granted only when in the opinion of the Orleans Board of Health:
a) 
The person requesting a variance has established that a level of environmental protection which is at least equivalent to that provided under 310 CMR 15.000 and these regulations can be achieved without strict application of the provisions from which the variance is being sought.
b) 
The person requesting the variance has established that the enforcement there of would do manifest injustice; provided that the decision of the Board of Health shall not conflict with the intent of these regulations.
B) 
Process for Seeking a Variance/Local Upgrade Approval.
1) 
The Board of Health shall review requests for variances and local upgrade approvals as follows:
a) 
Every request for a variance shall be in writing and shall make reference to the specific provision of 310 CMR 15.000 or the Orleans Board of Health Regulations for Subsurface Sewage Disposal for which a Variance/Local Upgrade Approval is sought and a statement showing compliance with the provisions of Section VI of these Regulations.
b) 
No application for a variance or Local Upgrade Approval shall be complete until the applicant has notified all direct abutters and abutters across the street by certified mail at his/her own expense at least 10 days before the Board of Health meeting at which the variance request will be on the agenda. The notification shall reference the specific provisions of 310 CMR 15.000 and/or the Orleans Board of Health Regulations for Subsurface Sewage Disposal from which a variance is sought, a statement of compliance with the standards set forth in Section VI of these Regulations and the date, time and place where the application will be discussed.
c) 
It shall be the responsibility of the applicant to notify the property owner (if different than the applicant) of the request for a Variance/Local Upgrade Approval.
C) 
Expiration of Variance.
1) 
A variance approved by the Board of Health pursuant to the provisions of the State Environmental Code, Title 5 and the amendments thereto, shall be valid for one year from the date of approval. If work allowed by the variance approval is not commenced within the one-year period, the variance shall expire.
2) 
The applicant may request a one time, one year, extension to an original variance, granted by the Board of Health, if he/she files a written request with the Board of Health a minimum of 30 days prior to the expiration of the original variance. The notification requirements contained in Section 185-17.5 B. 2. do not apply for a request of an extension.
A) 
Registration of Inspectors
All System Inspectors conducting inspections in Orleans shall be a Department of Environmental Protection Approved System Inspector and be registered with the Orleans Board of Health.
B) 
Inspections
1) 
Any person owning or operating a facility, served by a subsurface sewage disposal system, in the Town of Orleans shall have that facility inspected as required by Title 5 Section 15.301.
2) 
In addition to the requirements set forth in Title 5 Section 15.302 Criteria for Inspection an inspection shall, at a minimum, include the following:
C) 
Inspection of All Components
1) 
All of the components of a subsurface sewage disposal system must be located, exposed and inspected. At a minimum this includes the septic tank, distribution box and the soil absorption system. In the case of a leaching trench or leaching field where there are no pre-cast components to inspect, an evaluation of signs of hydraulic failure by inspecting the distribution box and the land in the vicinity of the leaching area will serve as an inspection of the soil absorption system.
a) 
If a component cannot be located, exposed, or inspected without undertaking unreasonable efforts, the system inspector must submit to the Board of Health a waiver request seeking relief from this provision. The waiver request will be reviewed by the Board of Health which shall determine if additional efforts are necessary to complete the inspection.
2) 
Whenever an addition to an existing structure which changes the footprint, as defined in these regulations, with no increase in design flow is proposed, the system inspection shall be an assessment to determine the locations of all system components, including a reserve area in compliance with current regulations.
D) 
Establishing Ground Water Levels
1) 
On a form provided by the Board of Health the Inspector shall document on the inspection form the distance between the bottom of the soil absorption system and the (maximum) ground water.
2) 
The following list describes a variety of methods which may be employed to determine high groundwater elevation.
a) 
If a sewage disposal plan is on record for the site, it should include groundwater elevations from the original deep observation hole.
b) 
Use of a hand auger if groundwater is suspected to be near the surface. Various standard measuring techniques can be used to determine groundwater depth. Use appropriate adjustments to estimate high groundwater elevation.
c) 
Use of small diameter well points can be driven to monitor groundwater elevation. Use appropriate adjustments to determine high groundwater elevation. This method may not be suitable for all soil conditions.
d) 
Drive an observation well with a powered auger, observe the groundwater elevation and make appropriate adjustments to determine high groundwater elevation. The minimum depth of the well should be six feet below the bottom of the leaching facility or to the depth at which groundwater is encountered.
e) 
Dig a deep observation hole (generally the last resort) and use appropriate adjustments to determine maximum high groundwater elevation. The minimum depth of the hole should be six feet below the bottom of the leaching facility or to the depth at which groundwater is encountered.
E) 
If the inspection reveals that the covers to the septic tank, distribution box or soil absorption system are more than twelve (12) inches below the finished grade the system should be marked with a conditional approval. The covers shall be brought up to within six (6) inches of the finished grade by a Licensed Disposal Works Installer.
F) 
If the inspection reveals that the sewage disposal system consists of one or more cesspools, then the system shall be deemed failed and must be upgraded to comply with 310 CMR 15.000, the State Environmental Code, Title 5, Minimum Requirements for the Subsurface Disposal of Sewage and these Regulations.
G) 
The allowable time for the repair, replacement or further inspection will be determined by the Board of Health or its agent, and will be contained in the order to the owner.
A) 
Whenever possible, these regulations shall be deemed to be supplementary to (not contradictory with) state and federal statutes and regulations.
B) 
In the event any of these regulations shall be held invalid, any such regulation or regulations shall be deemed to be severed from the others and struck from these rules, but the remaining regulations shall continue in full force.