On-Site Wastewater (Septic Systems)


Check the Status of a Septic Permit

Application for a Septic System and Well  (Now available online as a fillable PDF)


On-site wastewater pertains to septic tank systems that are subsurface wastewater systems consisting of a settling tank and a drain field. This system serves to contain the solid waste and sanitize the wastewater produced by the home, business, or other structure. Environmental Health has several responsibilities regarding the permitting, inspection, and operation of these systems. These include:

  • Evaluating a property to determine whether or not it is suitable for a septic system.
  • Issuing or denying a permit based on the results of the lot evaluation.
  • Inspecting septic systems when they are installed to ensure proper installation.
  • Investigating complaints fielded from the public.
  • Evaluating malfunctioning septic systems and determining an appropriate solution to repair the system.
  • Monitoring large septic systems and septic systems with pumps in order to ensure their proper operation.

The Septic System Permitting Process

  1. An Application for Service is accepted with presentation of a document from the appropriate planning and zoning authority. When an application is made for a septic tank permit(s), a site plan of the property is required. The site plan is a drawing showing the shape and size of the property, the state road number, and the driveway and house (or other buildings) located on the property. This site plan must include setbacks (or distance) from the highway right-of-way and at least one other property line to give a location of where the structure will be placed. A diagram from GIS will be printed to assist you if needed.
  2. Fees are assessed and based on requested services. View the current fee schedule. Once fees are paid, the applicant is assigned to an Environmental Health Specialist.
  3. The Environmental Health Specialist will contact the applicant to schedule an appointment for the evaluation. In case of an emergency, the applicant can contact the Environmental Health Specialist. They are in the office between 8:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. each morning, Monday through Friday.
  4. Before the Department evaluates the property, the applicant should rough-stake the area that needs to be evaluated and stake the location of the structure (house, mobile home, business, etc.).
  5. An evaluation of the property is made. If the property is suitable for the intended use, the property must be surveyed and a plat submitted for final review with the associated plat fee. If no survey is required, a permit is filed.
  6. The permit can be released upon receipt of the proper zoning permit and any other fees.
  7. Once the applicant has a proper zoning permit and Environmental Health permit, he or she may apply for permits at the Building Inspections department.

Items Needed to Process A Water and Sewer Authorization

  • Septic tank has been installed and inspection completed.
  • Well has been installed and inspection completed.
  • A completed well log by the well contractor must be on file in the office. The well log is located in the left bottom corner of the well permit.
  • A negative bacteriological water test is required to approve the well. It is the applicant's responsibility to provide an electrical source and arrange a water test in order for the water sample to be taken. The test can be done by either the Environmental Health Specialist assigned to you, or by a private lab. If the test is performed by the Environmental Health Specialist, results will be available in approximately one week. If you have a private lab do the test, the sample must be collected by a certified lab technician from that laboratory. The nitrate, nitrite, and inorganic water samples are for information only, but they are required by the State of North Carolina.

Once everything has been completed, the Environmental Health Specialist completes a water and sewer authorization. A copy of that form is forwarded to Building Inspections so that a final inspection and permanent power can be obtained.


According to 15A NCAC 18A .1938 (c) The person owning or controlling the system shall be responsible for assuring compliance with the laws, rules, and permit conditions regarding system location, installation, operation, maintenance, monitoring, reporting, and repair.

If you have any issues regarding your septic system, please contact us and we will gladly assess the problem to determine if a repair permit is necessary and devise an appropriate solution. Repair permits may be applied for by the property owner or authorized agent, at no cost. For more information on failing septic systems, read the Why Septic Systems Fail document.

Pump Inspections

Johnston County Environmental Health is required by the State of North Carolina (15A NCAC 18A .1961 j) to perform an inspection on all septic systems utilizing an effluent pump every five years. A letter is mailed out before the inspection and the homeowner may call to set up an appointment. After the inspection has been performed, the inspector will fill out an inspection report that will be mailed to the property owner.

View the Pump diagram.

Important Links



Page last updated:  June 28, 2024

Todd Ramsey


309 E. Market Street
Smithfield, NC 27577

Phone: (919) 989-5180
Fax: (919) 989-5190

To find a copy of your septic permit,
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