NEW Online Septic Permit Search
The Missoula City-County Health Department, with the help of Missoula County Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Division, is pleased to announce a new online system for searching septic system permit records. This system allows property owners, real estate agents, environmental consultants and other interested parties to search and access the Health Department septic permit records online, any time of day.
Previously, the only way to access septic permits was to visit or contact the Health Department during normal business hours. Now, the public can view and print permits from their home or office whenever convenient. The new system significantly improves access to public permit records and increases efficiency for those who frequently request permits. In addition, it reduces the amount of time that Health Department staff members spend responding to permit requests.
Why would anyone want to look at a septic permit? With over 12,000 homes and businesses served by on-site wastewater systems, there are more reasons than one might think. For example, permits can help homeowners when it comes time for maintenance. “Septic tanks should be pumped once every three years on average, and effluent filters should be checked and cleaned annually,” explains Jeanna Miller, an Environmental Health Specialist with the Missoula City-County Health Department. “While rules require there be a riser to the surface of the ground, these are often buried and can be hard to find.” Permits can provide the information needed to find the tank without digging up the entire yard.
Homeowners also need to know where their system and replacement areas are before landscaping their property, so that they don’t expose the system, bury it too deep, or take up space that they’ll need later when they have to replace the system. Additionally, when homes or businesses are for sale, both the seller and the buyer need information about the system, like how long ago it was installed, and what it was sized to serve. The online system provides an easy way for owners and buyers to access needed information.
While the online database increases access, it is not meant to replace interactions with sanitarians entirely. “Permits have been issued by the health department since 1967 and some of the older permit records may not have a lot of information, or may be hard to interpret,” Miller said. If someone has a question on a permit that they are viewing online, or thinks that the septic permit has been assigned to the wrong parcel, the Health Department asks that they call 258-4755. “We’re always trying to improve the quality of the older records, and it helps when people give us more information,” Miller said.
The goal of improving records and access was the impetus for this project as a part of the Missoula City-County Health Board’s Strategic Priorities for 2016, but they didn’t do it alone. “It was a team effort. We couldn’t have done this project without Mike Snook, GIS Manager for Missoula County. He took the idea and made it a reality,” Miller said.
The look and the feel of the permit search program is similar to the County’s property information database, and those familiar with that resource will find the septic permit program easy to use.
Miller said, “We are excited for the public to begin using the system, and welcome questions or feedback.”