Protecting Oregon's Environment
Oregon State Seal
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

Water Quality

Onsite Wastewater Management Program (Septic Systems)

Sign up for Onsite Sewage System Info by email

Onsite Home
About Septic Systems
Oregon SepticSmart

 WQ Info Guides:
by alphabet
by category

Onsite Wastewater Management Program (Septic Systems)

Over 30 percent of Oregonians rely on septic systems to treat wastewater from their homes and businesses. DEQ regulates the siting, design, installation and ongoing operation and maintenance of septic systems. Without this oversight, septic systems can fail or malfunction, pollute Oregon’s land and waterways with raw sewage and create public health hazards.

DEQ operates the onsite septic system program in 11 counties, referred to as “direct service” counties. Twenty-five county programs are operated under contract with DEQ, referred to as “contract counties”. In addition to performing inspections, DEQ and the contract counties are also responsible for ensuring that septic tank pumpers have the necessary equipment to safely pump, transport and dispose of the waste from septic systems, known as septage. In addition, DEQ certifies and licenses installers and pumpers, and reviews and approves products such as septic tanks, alternative treatment technologies and alternative drainfield products.

Current News

Food Cart Wastewater Disposal

Food carts are booming in Portland. They are also becoming increasingly popular outside of Portland. Food carts are licensed by local environmental health departments, ensuring the food prep process is safe and that the carts do not create public nuisances or health hazards with their wastewater.

DEQ licenses businesses that remove and haul the wastewater generated from food carts. Sometimes this is called graywater disposal, as it does not include wastewater from toilets. However, if someone wants to be in the business of disposing of wastewater generated at food carts, they must be licensed with DEQ as a sewage disposal service. Licensing ensures these businesses have the proper equipment to remove and transport wastewater and haul it to approved facilities.

Oregon Administrative Rules define sewage as “water-carried human and animal wastes, including kitchen, bath and laundry wastes from residence, buildings, industrial establishments, or other places.” A license is required to pump or haul wastewater that is defined as sewage.

If you wish to apply for a license, you must submit a license application packet, with the required fee, to DEQ.

If you have any questions about this license, please call Lisa MacGregor at 541-686-7905.

Oregon Septic Smart!

Are you an onsite industry professional performing septic system inspections? Join a new initiative designed to connect system inspectors with system owners. Visit Septic Smart Pro to learn more about being an inspector with Oregon Septic Smart!

South Deschutes/North Klamath Groundwater Protection Project

South Deschutes/North Klamath Groundwater Protection Project - DEQ is working with the community to better protect the area’s shallow vulnerable groundwater that is used as a primary drinking water source in southern Deschutes and northern Klamath counties.

Direct links to listings of approved CEUs for certified installers and maintenance providers:


Program Topics

Fact Sheets

[print version]

For more information about DEQ's Onsite Wastewater Management Program contact Lisa MacGregor by phone at 541-686-7905 or by email.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Headquarters: 811 SW Sixth Ave., Portland, OR 97204-1390
Phone: 503-229-5696 or toll free in Oregon 1-800-452-4011
Oregon Telecommunications Relay Service: 1-800-735-2900  FAX: 503-229-6124

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is a regulatory agency authorized to protect Oregon's environment by
the State of Oregon and the Environmental Protection Agency.

DEQ Web site privacy notice