A septic system is necessary when a municipal sewer is not available and an on-site system is the only option. All water-using fixtures inside the home must be serviced by an approved septic system.  Other sources of water discharge from the home such as roof drains, sump pump discharge, and water softener waste must NOT be connected to the septic system. These discharged waters should be directed away from the septic system and kept away from the well servicing the home. Click on the picture to learn more about septic systems.

Septic systems must be permitted and installed according to the Livingston County Sanitary Code. During the installation process, an Environmental Health Specialist will conduct inspections. Environmental Health Specialists also investigate all complaints of failing septic systems. If you’re seeking financial support to install a replacement septic system, please visit the Septic Replacement Loan Program for more details.

Please note: MISS Dig must mark underground utilities before the site visit. Anyone digging on the property must submit a request to MISS Dig. Unmarked properties will result in delay of service.

Soil Evaluation

A soil evaluation must be completed and approved before you can apply for a septic permit.

Septic Permits

A septic permit must be obtained prior to installing any septic system.

Property Additions & Modifications

If you are on a well and/or septic system and are planning to do an addition or modification to your property, you must apply for a site review.

LCHD Archived Records

Search public LCHD records prior to 2018 by address, name, or parcel number.

LCHD Records

Search public LCHD information from 2018 to present.


What are typical septic system components?

A septic system is comprised of two main components: the septic tank, and the drain field. The septic tank is the first stop outside of the home for all waste. This is where solids and liquids are separated, with the solids sinking to the bottom of the tank to form a sludge layer, and the liquids residing in the middle of the tank where then it will feed out to the drain field. The liquid, also known as effluent, in the septic tank then feeds through the outlet end of the tank to the drain field, which is generally a large bed of stone with perforated PVC pipe laid throughout. The effluent from there naturally seeps through the stone and permeable soil underneath and is treated before re-entering the groundwater and/or surface water.

The following graphic shows sewage system components.  Septic system diagram

What maintenance does my septic system need? How long will it last?

Septic systems have a life expectancy of approximately 20-25 years. However, general maintenance and care can help to prolong your septic system and keep it working properly. It is recommended to have the septic tank pumped every 3-5 years, this prevents the sludge layer from getting too large and from plugging the outlet pipe into the field. Also, tree roots can cause failure in some cases so being careful with how close trees are planted to the drain field will prevent the roots from clogging the PVC pipes. Lastly and most importantly, it is vital to be mindful of how much water is being used. For example, have high efficiency appliances to limit water usage and check all plumbing fixtures on a regular basis to make certain there are no leaks.

What are signs of sewage system problems?

A failed sewage system is a health hazard to you, your family, and your neighbors. Call Livingston County Environmental Health at (517) 546-9858 at the first signs of failure, and we will assist you in your efforts to remedy the situation.

If a sewage system fails, obvious sign appear such as:

  • Toilets back up; drains won’t drain.
  • Excessive moisture or wastewater surfaces over the drainfield and/or septic tank.
  • Foul odors come from the drainfield or septic tank.

Last Modified May 22, 2024

Environmental Health
Livingston County Health Department Logo
Matt Bolang

Matt Bolang
Health Officer



(517) 546-9858


Monday – Friday
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Closed County Holidays


2300 E Grand River Ave
Suite 102
Howell, MI 48843


(517) 546-9853
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