Commercial Systems

The Commercial/Industrial On-Site Program issues permits to install and operate non-residential septic systems where property owners are not served by a public wastewater collection system. There are about 400 entities subject to regulation under this program including businesses, government agencies, institutions and others. Most of the on-site systems consist of a holding tank which has been installed to receive only domestic wastewater.

These holding tanks must be pumped on an as-needed basis by a licensed Johnson County sanitary disposal contractor. This domestic wastewater must be disposed of at an approved wastewater treatment plant. In a few cases, commercial/industrial systems involve components more similar to residential systems such as septic tanks and lateral fields. 

Obtaining Commercial/Industrial Sewage Treatment Permit

All newly constructed commercial or industrial establishments are required to install a holding tank for the disposal of their waste if sewers are not available. The following are required steps to obtain the permit and the subsequent installation of the holding tank.

In most instances, a holding tank will be required for the commercial property.  However, a soil profile analysis may need to be conducted if a conventional system needs to be installed.  A completed Profile Analysis Application and fee must be submitted for the soil profile analysis. A backhoe operator must meet a Johnson County Environmental Health Specialist at the site for the analysis.

When making an application for a permit the following materials must be submitted for review:

  • A completed commercial sewage application (only if a conventional system is required);
  • A design plan drawn by a JCDHE-licensed installer or designer for the installation of the holding tank;
  • A set of floor plans that includes the plans for plumbing;
  • A letter from a JCDHE-licensed sanitary sewage disposal contractor stating that they are contracted to pump the holding tank.

The permit to install the holding tank will be issued after the plan review has been completed. The owner/agent will be contacted when the permit is ready. The permit will be available at the Environment Division office once the appropriate fees are paid.

Once the permit has been issued to the owner/agent, the holding tank may be installed. The Environment Division must inspect and approve the final construction and final grade. The appropriate county or city office will be notified by JCDHE once the final grade is approved.

After the final grade has been approved the county or city Building Codes office will be notified and the Operating Permit will be issued.

The Operating Permit must be posted in a conspicuous place for public view.

Operating Permits & Required Forms

There are two types of operating permits issued.

Class A permit is issued for private onsite sewage treatment systems that have either the potential to discharge commercial waste or employ twenty (20) or more full-time equivalents per day.

Class B permit is issued for private onsite sewage treatment systems that are used solely for domestic waste and employ less than twenty (20) full-time equivalents.


Annual Permitting

Permits for the operation of a commercial/industrial on-site system are issued annually. The term of the permit is the calendar year and the Application for Annual Commercial/Industrial On-Site Sewage System Operation Permit must be completed and a fee paid.

All permits are renewed at the beginning of the year, and a fee is charged, depending upon the size and type of operations discharging to the on-site system. The fee covers the cost of the annual inspection, enforcement activities, and the tracking of all wastewater to its proper point of disposal.

Facility Inspections on Installed Systems

Each year a JCDHE Environmental Health Specialist inspects each of the nearly 400 locations where on-site wastewater systems are permitted for commercial/industrial, institutional and governmental entities. The purpose of the inspection is fourfold:

  1. To verify that the system is operating properly and not causing public health or environmental problems;
  2. To interview a representative of the permittee’s operations as to any increases in the number of employees, or process changes which might generate more wastewater and necessitate system modifications;
  3. To ascertain the quality of service being provided by the county-licensed sanitary disposal contractors who retrieve the wastewater and provide a current copy of all licensed sanitary disposal contractors, and
  4. To educate the permittee regarding the proper operation of the on-site system, public health and environmental issues, and to provide a copy of the Commercial/Industrial On-Site Sewage Disposal Inspection results.

System Failure

A failing system is any on-site sewage treatment system which, for any reason, does not function as designed or as prescribed by the Johnson County Environmental Sanitary Code.

Remediation of the Problem

When JCDHE becomes aware of a commercial/industrial failing on-site system through the annual inspection process or via complaint, a number of steps ensue to correct the problem. They are as follows:

  1. An initial visit is made to the location to assess and document the situation and gather all pertinent information – who, what, when, where, how.
  2. The responsible permit holder and/or landlord is contacted, advised of the problem, a solution is outlined and cooperation is solicited for resolution.
  3. When cooperation is gained and a repair is specified, a JCDHE-licensed designer or designer/installer is contacted by the applicant to begin the system repair process.
  4. If the system is an on-site sewage treatment system that includes a septic tank and lateral field or a new holding tank, major work may be necessary to correct the problem. If this is the case, the steps specified for obtaining a soil profile analysis and ultimately a new permit will be followed. The installer must submit a copy of the drawing of the proposed system and an application for the permit before the permit is issued.
  5. If the repair is classified as a minor repair, a minor repair permit is issued, specific conditions for the repair and its operation are made.
  6. Final construction and final grade inspections are made regardless of the type of repair done.