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DWQ Home > UIC Program > UIC Well Classes > Large Capacity Cesspools

Utah Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program

Large-Capacity Cesspools (EPA Well Code - 5E)

New large-capacity cesspools are BANNED nationwide as of April 5, 2000.
Existing large-capacity cesspools MUST be closed by April 5, 2005.

What is a Large-Capacity Cesspool?

Cesspools are shallow onsite wastewater disposal systems used to dispose of untreated sanitary waste. Although the construction of a cesspool may vary, they typically consist of concrete cylinder with an open bottom or perforated sides or a pit lined with bricks or cinder blocks. In Utah, cesspools are considered to be Large-Capacity Cesspools (LCCs), regulated by the Utah UIC Program, if the cesspool is used for the onsite disposal of solely untreated sanitary waste by:

Note: The 5,000 gallons per day flow rate limit does not apply to multiple dwelling residential facilities. Any cesspool used at one of these facilities must be closed.

Example of a Large Capacity Cesspool

Large-Capicity Cesspool Schematic

The Utah UIC Program does not regulate cesspools used by single family homes or non-residential cesspools with a design capacity of less than or equal to 5,000 gallons per day to dispose of solely sanitary waste. Therefore, these smaller systems are not affected by the new requirements. Please contact your Utah local health department for more information.

Where are Large-Capacity Cesspools in Operation?

In general, the following facilities may use large-capacity cesspools :

Why are Large-Capacity Cesspools Banned?

Untreated sanitary waste discharged into a cesspool can enter shallow groundwater and contaminate drinking water resources because: they are designed to isolate but not to treat sanitary waste, the wastewaters from them frequently exceed drinking water health standards for nitrates, total suspended solids, and coliform bacteria, the wastewater may contain other constituents of concern such as phosphates, chlorides, grease, viruses, and chemicals used to clean cesspools (e.g., trichloroethane and methylene chloride), and areas that rely on cesspools are more likely to rely on groundwater for their drinking water supplies.

How Do I Know If I Have a Large-Capacity Cesspool?

Answer the following questions to determine if you may have a large-capacity cesspool.

If Your Answer is Yes
If Your Answer is No
Residential Properties
1. Do you own or operate a multiple-family dwelling (duplex, townhouse complex, apartment building, assisted living facility, nursing home, or cluster development)? Go to Question 3. Go to Question 2.
Non-Residential Properties
2. Does your facility generate more than 5,000 gallons per day of sanitary waste from toilets, showers, sinks and wash basins, food preparation sinks and basins, and clothes washing and dish washing machines? Go to Question 3. You are not affected by the new rule.
Stop here.
3. Is your sanitary waste discharged to a municipal sewer? You are not affected by the new rule.
Stop here.
Go to Question 4.
4. Is your sanitary waste discharged to a holding tank, and is the waste in the holding tank disposed of off-site? You are not affected by the new rule.
Stop here.
Go to Question 5.
5. Is your sanitary waste discharged to a septic system (that is, a septic tank with a leaching field) or package plant? *(see note below) You are not affected by the new rule.
Stop here.
You may be disposing your sanitary wastes into a large-capacity cesspool.

*Note: If you are not sure where your wastewater goes, use dye or smoke tests to help locate the discharge points for your bathrooms and kitchens. Your local health department, plumber, or licensed septic tank pumper may be able to help you determine where your sanitary waste goes.

Source: EPA's Class V Wells.

What Are The New Class V Rule Requirements For Large-Capacity Cesspools?

The following discussion references the Utah Administrative Rules for the UIC Program and various sections of 40 CFR.

View documents regarding the New Class V Rule at this EPA Web site.

New large-capacity cesspools are banned nationwide as of April 5, 2000. Large-capacity cesspools may no longer be constructed. (New large-capacity cesspools are those for which construction was started on or after April 5, 2000 (R317-7-6.5(B))(See also 40 CFR § 144.88(a)(2)).

Existing large-capacity cesspools must be closed by April 5, 2005 (R317-7-6.5(A)) (See also 40 CFR § 144.88(a)(1)(i)).

What are the Requirements For Closing Large-Capacity Cesspools

In Utah, you must close your large-capacity cesspool in a "... manner that prevents the movement of fluid containing any contaminant into an underground sources of drinking water, if the presence of that contaminant may cause a violation of any primary drinking water regulation under 40CFR Part 141 or Utah Public Drinking Water Rules R309-100, or may otherwise adversely affect the health of persons." (R317-7-6.6(A)) (See also 40 CFR § 144.12)."

In closing your large-capacity cesspool, the owner or operator must:

What are the Sanitary Waste Disposal Options After Closing Large-Capacity Cesspools?

There are numerous alternatives to the use of large-capacity cesspools. The following alternatives are some you might consider:

This Web page represents a modification of an EPA Web site to reflect Utah Administrative Rules and Requirements.

Contact Candace Cady with questions or comments about this Web site.