Septic and Wastewater Management FAQs

Answers to frequently asked questions regarding onsite wastewater permitting processes are included below:

How and where do I apply for a septic permit in Wake County?

Applications within Wake County jurisdiction usually starts with Wake County Planning, Development & Inspections (PDI)then the application and site plan will be forwarded to Environmental Services. The applicant also needs to apply for a wastewater permit through the Permit Portal

Applications from all other jurisdictions start the application by applying for a wastewater permit on the Permit Portal. To learn more about applying for wastewater permits, see the Apply for a Permit page.  

How do I request a repair for my septic system?

To request a repair permit, please call customer support at 919-856-7400 , select option 8 to speak directly to an Environmental Services Staff for a site investigation or submit a repair request online.

What are the general distances (setbacks) from structures, wells, drains, etc.?

General setbacks per State rules:

  • Pools, 15 feet from shell

  • Deck: 5 feet

  • Basement: 15 feet

  • Foundation without a drain: 5 feet

Foundation with a drain:

  • Uphill from the drainline: 10 feet

  • Side slope to the drainline: 15 feet

  • Downhill from drainline: 25 feet

  • Wells: 100 feet (50 feet for repair)

  • Surface Waters: 50 feet

  • Embankments or cuts 2 feet deep or greater: 15 feet

  • Property line: 10 feet

Additional details on setback Information is available through state and local rules linked below:

Accessory Structure Setbacks are listed below:

The location of new project components must maintain setbacks shown here, in feet.


System and Repair

Supply Line

New building/structure foundations, garages and decks (detached garages, sheds, gazebos, barns & such)




New cuts or new embankments 2 feet or more vertical height or retaining walls without foundations




New retaining walls (with foundations/drains: contact EHS Building permits required or not)




a. downslope with/without drain




b. upslope with/without drain




New water lines (including irrigation)




New swimming pools (in-ground, above-ground, in-patio)




NEW drainage systems: Interceptor drains, foundation drains and storm water diversions, if the drainage system is:




a. upslope




b. sideslope




c. downslope




New grave site or graveyard boundary




New Drive or Sidewalk (includes any concrete structure including patios) (Building permit required or not)




Animal feedlots, as defined by G.S. 143-215.10B(5) or manure or litter piles




Fertilizer, pesticide, herbicide or other chemical storage areas




Animal Barns




Private Well




How do I know where my septic system is?

Wastewater permits can be viewed online. You can either go to Permit Portal or view information through iMaps. If your permit has not been scanned, you may request a copy of your permit from Environmental Services (ES) by submitting a research request and providing property and owner information. If the structure is old, it may be difficult to locate the permit and information contained on the permit may be limited. You may also contact a private home inspector, installer, wastewater system operator or wastewater consultant to assist in locating your system.

Does Wake County offer septic inspections for home sales?

No, Wake County does not provide this service. Point of sale inspections can only be conducted by Certified Septic Inspectors. Below is a list of North Carolina Onsite Wastewater Contractor/Inspector Certification Board.

What is the process for different types of additions?

The Accessory Structure Permitting (ASP) process for Wake County Environmental Services is designed to ensure that the existing septic system, repair area and well, if present, will not be negatively impacted by any proposed house additions, decks, pools, sheds, storage buildings, garages, patios, trenching, etc.  The ASP process reviews any addition project that expands outside of the residential building footprint.

The applicant must apply for a building permit for the jurisdiction where the property is located.  In Wake County’s jurisdiction, please use Wake County’s permit portal.

If the project is within the jurisdiction of a local municipality, a Wastewater ASP must be applied for within the permit portal to initiate the review process.

A site plan that meets Wake County site plan requirements must be submitted when applying for a building or accessory structure permit.  The site plan will be reviewed for environmental compliance with the State of North Carolina wastewater and well laws and rules, and Wake County wastewater and well regulations. It is the goal of Environmental Services that each site plan contains sufficient information as outlined in the checklist such that the plans can be reviewed and approved in the office; thereby, negating the need for a site visit and the extended time required to approve the plans. In the event that a site visit is required, the applicant must have all utilities located and pay the $200 fee in advance.  

What are the site plan requirements?

Environmental Services site plan requirements show all structures, driveways, buffers and easements. Setbacks and zoning approval are required. Impervious surface, calculations may be required for zoning approval.

If I do not have a site plan, where can I obtain one?

A site plan is often included in the closing documents when you purchased the property or can be obtained from the surveyor who last surveyed the property. If not, you can create a plan using iMaps, Wake County’s interactive map system. Be sure to add the structure to scale and the required setbacks.

What is the repair area?

Repair area is reserved for the installation of additional nitrification fields and must not be covered with structures or impervious materials. This area required must be enough to install a complete replacement drain field system.

When is a site visit required?

A site visit will be required if:

  • There is a conflict between the site that was submitted and the septic permit on file
  • If there is a particular conflict on the site plan that cannot be resolved in the office


If the site visit is required:

  • A site visit fee of $200 will be assessed and must be paid to schedule the site visit.
  • If Wake County staff needs to dig any auger borings/probing, we do not want to hit your underground utility lines.  It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all underground utility lines (both public and private) are marked.  We strongly recommend that you call 811 to have your publicly managed underground utility lines marked.  There is no charge for 811 service, but you should contact 811 at least three working days before Wake County staff are scheduled to be on your property.  Please note that 811 does not mark private underground utility lines (including, but not limited to, secondary water/sewer/gas/electric lines, or water/sewer lines between the right of way or meter to the residence).  Here is a link to 811, describing private lines. You will need to pay a private line locator to locate lines on private property.  If damage occurs to public or private underground utility lines due to those lines not being marked, Wake County is not  responsible for repairs or replacement.   
  • The property line corners and lines must be located and marked and the proposed addition clearly marked onsite.

If the site visit reveals a major impact to the system, a Wastewater permit must be written to approve and accommodate the proposal.  Additional fees may apply.  If the proposed addition can be approved with no modifications, the site plan will be approved.

What do I do if my lot is denied?

If you have questions regarding the reason for denial, please contact the Environmental Health Specialist who evaluated your site. You can request an informal review by Environmental Services (ES) or you may employ an appropriately licensed professional to provide a proposal for review of regulatory conformance. You may appeal the decision in accordance with ES appeals procedures, if you substantiate that ES incorrectly applied regulations.

What is required of the customer when submitting a Certified Operators Agreement and/or Maintenance Agreement?

A copy of the Certified Operators contract with both the owner’s and the operator’s signature must be submitted (usually 2-4 pages long). Recorded Maintenance Schedule must be notarized and then recorded at the Wake County Register of Deeds with a copy provided back to Environmental Services. Systems will sometimes require a Maintenance Schedule and/or a contract with a North Carolina Certified Operator. Refer to Construction Authorization permits to locate the Maintenance Schedule in Permit Portal.

When can a permit be released for conditional power?

Conditional power can be released on permits ONLY when a pump is required as part of the septic system. The approval will only be given if the structure has passed its electrical final inspection. The conditional power is only available for 60 days. Builders must contact Planning, Development & Inspections not Environmental Services, for conditional power.

What is the status of my permit?

The status of permit can best be determined by checking in the Permit Portal.  If adequate information is not available in the Permit Portal, contact the Wastewater Information Specialist at or 919-856-7434.