Dingman Township
                           Pike County, PA        

 


                       

 Frequently Asked Questions

Note:  Due to the nature of the format, the answers have been kept brief.  There may be exceptions and/or situations in which the answers do not apply.  Nothing found herein should in any way be construed to supersede any properly promulgated legislation, regulation, or ordinance that may conflict with the information provided herein.  When in doubt, contact the SEO for clarification.

Question Index:

How long is a perk test valid? Is a perk test only good for 3 years?

How long is a sewage permit valid?

Can I extend or renew a sewage permit?

What is an SEO?

May I use a sewage permit that was issued to another person?

Can I get an inground system?

Do I have to have an elevated sandmound?

Why was my permit issued to construct an elevated sandmound?

If I change my mind, can I have another type of system?

Once permitted, can I move the system location?

Do I need a perk test to buy/sell a property?

How can I tell if a property is "buildable"?

What is a limiting zone?

What is a percolation (perk) test?

Can I perform my own testing?

Can I construct my own sewage system?

What is the penalty for violating the sewage laws?

When the permit is issued, where is it mailed?

How do I know if my sewage system is malfunctioning?

Is a permit required to change a septic tank? Repair a mound?  Fix a broken pipe?

Is a permit required to replace a pump or lateral cleanout cap?

The finance company requires that the Township inspect the sewage disposal system.  Does Dingman Township perform such inspections?

The finance company requires a [certain document] to be signed by the SEO.  Will the SEO sign it?

How can I know that a real estate inspection firm / sewage inspection firm is qualified and will properly test my existing sewage system?

Why are sewage systems designed based on the number of bedrooms and not the number of bathrooms?

We are building a house with more bedrooms than we need for bedroom purposes. Why do we need a larger sewage system when we are just going to use these bedrooms for storage, play areas, or other such uses?

We bought a house with more bedrooms than the sewage system was designed for.  What should we do?  Who is responsible?




How long is my perk test good for?   Is a perk test only good for 3 years? 

A perk test is data used towards applying for a permit.  There is no time limit on the validity of the data provided that testing procedures remain constant, the site conditions remain the same, and the test location may be verified.  It may be possible to use a test that is 10 years old  --- or (in rare cases) it may not be possible to use results for perk tests performed the same year.

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How long is a sewage permit valid?

Three years unless sooner revoked or suspended.  Note:  While the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act (Act 537 of 1966) provides for a 3 year life for sewage permits, Act 46 of 2010 has provided a temporary extension for many permits.  If you believe that your permit has expired or is about to expire, call the SEO to find out if the extension applies to your permit.

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Can I extend or renew a sewage permit?

There are no provisions to extend a sewage permit.  State Law is very specific.  A sewage permit will expire unless construction has started on both the system and the structure in which it is to serve prior to the expiration date.  Township Ordinance further defines the start of construction for the structure to require that the foundation be completed and approved by the Township Building Inspector.  The start of construction for a sewage disposal system is defined as the absorption area having been approved for cover by the Township Sewage Enforcement Officer.

State Law makes no provisions for renewing a sewage permit.  When it expires the property owner loses all right to the use of the permit and a new permit must be secured. As the regulations do not significantly change too often, it is often possible to use much of the information from a previous permit to apply for the new permit. However, if the regulations have changed, the new permit must meet the new regulations.  For this reason, property owners must be vigilant to ensure their permit does not expire prior to completion of the house and sewage system.

Note:  While the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act (Act 537 of 1966) provides for a 3 year life for sewage permits, Act 46 of 2010 has provided a temporary extension for many permits.  If you believe that your permit has expired or is about to expire, call the SEO to find out if the extension applies to your permit.

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What is an SEO?

Sewage Enforcement Officer.  Officially, an S.E.O. is a person who has been certified by the Commonwealth and appointed by a municipality to administer the State and local sewage laws.  However, other persons who have obtained state certification but have not been appointed by a municipality are often referred to as S.E.O.s although they do not have the authority to issue permits, citations, etc.

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May I use a sewage permit issued to another person?

A sewage permit is the personal property of the person to whom it was issued.  The law does not permit use of the permit by another party unless the permit has been transferred into the name of the new party. 

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Can I get an inground system?

Probably not.  Soil testing is performed to determine the limiting zone on a potential sewage absorption area site.  A true inground system requires a limiting zone of at least 72 inches.  Under some circumstances, a shallow placement inground system may be placed on a limiting zone of 59 inches.  Unfortunately, a vast majority of the soils Dingman Township have limiting zones of 35 inches of less.  Under current law, less than 1% of the permits issued in Dingman Township are for inground systems. Applicants desiring to have an inground system should look into  “drip systems” and “at-grade” systems as possible alternatives.

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Do I have to have an elevated sandmound?

Not necessarily.  To obtain a sewage permit, soil testing is performed on the property.  When the limiting zone, percolation rate, and slope of the tested area is known, the applicant can choose from a menu of sewage system options. At one time, the options available were quite limited and the elevated sandmound was generally the best option.  However, in recent years, the list of options has been greatly expanded.  In most cases a site that qualifies for an elevated sandmound system could easily qualify for several other alternatives.  Most of the alternatives are comparable to a sandmound in costs and are often smaller and less obtrusive than a sandmound.  As applicant, you should discuss the available options with the SEO or your system designer before applying for a permit.

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Why was my permit issued to construct an elevated system?

After the soil testing is completed, a set of sewage system construction plans is prepared and submitted to the SEO.  If the plan is acceptable, a sewage permit is issued based on the plan.  The sewage system type is specified in the plan and, if so specified, a permit for an elevated sandmound is issued.  It is the applicant’s duty to ensure that the designer submits a design for the type of system the applicant desires. 

 

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If I change my mind, can I change to another type of system?

In most cases, yes.  However, a new sewage permit would be required.

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Once permitted, can I move the system location?

In most cases the Township offers flexibility in the location of the sewage tanks in order to accommodate the house location and plumbing.  The tanks still must be located so that they meet the minimum isolation distances required by law.  Absorption areas must be placed over the tested area as shown on the plans.  Moving an absorption area requires that the new location be tested and a new permit issued.

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Do I need a perk test to sell / purchase a property?

The State sewage law does not specifically require that any particular test be conducted prior to the sale/purchase of a property.  Sellers often have a perk test performed in an attempt to show that the property is “buildable”.  BEWARE !   A perk test alone is not sufficient to determine that a sewage system may be constructed on the site.  It is recommended that a property buyer secure a sewage permit prior to purchasing a property. 

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How can I tell if a property is "buildable"?

It is difficult to ascertain that a property is “buildable”.  There are numerous permits and approvals that must be satisfied before the start of construction.  In all cases:  Sewage permit, building permit, zoning permit, well permit.  Other permits and approvals that may, or may not be required:  Highway occupancy (driveway onto a government road), wetlands encroachment, floodplain, land development, stormwater runoff, sedimentation and erosion. A percolation test and/or issuance of a sewage permit is not enough to determine that a property is “buildable”.

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What is a limiting zone?

The point at and below the soil’s surface in which a limiting factor is found.  The limiting factor is a condition that prohibits, or greatly limits, the soil’s ability to renovate sewage.  Common limiting factors are: bedrock, gravel with open voids, and seasonal high water table (actually observed or as noted by redoximorphic features).

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What is a percolation test? (perk test)

A test to determine the rate in which effluent can flow through and be absorbed by the soil.  A minimum of 6 tests are performed and the percolation rate is the average of the tests.  Although a percolation test that is too fast or too slow may result in permit denial, the test generally is used to size the proposed system.  Many newer system types do not require a percolation test.

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Can I perform my own testing?

Yes, if you know what you are doing and have the necessary equipment.  If not, you must hire a testing firm to do it for you.  The Township cannot teach you to do the testing nor supply the equipment.

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Can I construct my own system?

Yes, if you have access to, and can operate heavy equipment.  However, if you have not built a sewage system in Dingman Township before, you are requested to meet with the SEO to discuss inspection requirements and receive construction tips prior to the start of construction.

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What is the penalty for violating the sewage laws?

The State law provides for both criminal and civil penalties.  Criminally, violators found guilty of violating the sewage laws may be fined no less than $ 500.00 nor more than $ 5000.00 per violation/day and/or may be imprisoned for no more than 90 days per violation/day.  A violator may also be required to pay a civil penalty of no less than $  300.00 and no more than $ 2000.00 per violation day.  In addition, the violator is required to pay court costs and may be required to pay the costs of prosecution.  The State and Local government may also seek other remedies such as injunctions, etc.

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 When my permit is issued, where does it get mailed?

When issued, the permit is mailed to the person specified by the system designer. If no one is specified, it will be mailed to the property owner. If you want your permit to be mailed or picked up by another party (e.g. lawyer, real estate agent, etc.) be sure to notify your system designer and/or the Township.

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 How do I know if my sewage system is malfunctioning?

Obvious signs are sewage backing up into the house or sewage surfacing above the absorption area, from the side of a mound, or around the tanks. Other signs that may be indicative of a problem is repeated pump failure or circuit breakers tripping, a persistent sewage odor, or dark blue/green grass or wetlands vegetation over the absorption area.

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Is a permit required to change a septic tank? Repair a mound?  Fix a broken pipe?

Yes, Yes, and Yes. The Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act Regulations require that a permit be issued prior to any repair activity.

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Is a permit required to replace a pump or a lateral cleanout cap?

Yes. The Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act Regulations require that a permit be obtained prior to changing or replacing any sewage system component.

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The finance company requires that the Township inspect the sewage disposal system in order for me to buy (or refinance) the house.  Does Dingman Township perform such inspections?

No, the Township can not inspect existing systems for mortgage/refinancing purposes. Such inspections must be performed by private firms.

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The finance company requires a [certain document] to be signed by the S.E.O.  Will he sign it?

No. Township approval is signified by the SEO’s signature on the Certificate of Occupancy and Use. Documents prepared by other parties will not be signed.

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How can I know that a real estate inspection firm / sewage system inspection firm is qualified and will properly test my existing sewage system?

Sewage inspection for real estate sales or refinancing is an unregulated industry. Any person can become an inspector without even the least bit of knowledge about the operation of a sewage system. Even “certified” individuals may only have taken an internet course based on out-of-state rules. Many perform tests that would rarely detect a problem. Others perform tests that may actually destroy the system! Prior to hiring an inspector to test the system you might buy, or granting a buyer permission to test your system, you should contact the Township SEO to learn of the pitfalls you should avoid.

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Why are sewage systems designed based on the number of bedrooms and not the number of bathrooms?

Use of the number of bedrooms is required by the state sewage
regulations. The presumption is that the more bedrooms the house has, the more people who could live in the house. The more residents, the more water that would be generated. The amount of water generated per person would be relatively the same regardless of the number of bathrooms available.

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We built a house with more bedrooms than we need for sleeping purposes.  Why do we need a larger sewage system when we are just going to use these bedrooms for storage, play areas, or other such uses?

The state regulations require the system to be sized to the house not
your particular family. You may sell the house to a larger family who will utilize the bedrooms as bedrooms.

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We bought a house with more bedrooms than the sewage system was designed for.  What should we do?  Who is responsible?

You should immediately contact the SEO to determine how best to
correct the situation. Every situation is unique and will vary based on the nature of the land, previous testing, and the degree in which the system violates the law. As property owner, you are ultimately responsible to correct the situation and would be subject to the penalties should you fail to correct the problem in a timely manner. If the problem was created by the previous property owner, you should immediately contact a lawyer to discuss what, if any, action may be taken recoup your costs.

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Still not sure? 

Call the Dingman Township SEO

Monday through Friday 

Office Hours:   9 – 10:30 AM.

(570)  296 – 9260 

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