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Plan Review Process for Domestic and Non-Domestic Wastewater Systems

Non-conventional systems are systems that do not meet the definition of a conventional onsite system as defined in 18 AAC 72.035. Some examples are mound absorption systems, holding tanks, treatment units and commercial systems. These systems must have engineered plans submitted to the DEC by a professional engineer (P.E.) licensed in Alaska and must be approved before construction, modification or installation. Any system that receives non-domestic waste must also complete plan review process. Written approval is not required for an emergency repair or routine maintenance; however, contact with the DEC must be made prior to emergency repair. Upon completion of construction, modification, installation or emergency repair, record drawings must be submitted to DEC by a licensed engineer.

The review, construction and approval process are as follows:

  • Step One - Obtain Approval to Construct

    Engineer is hired by property owner to design and prepare plan submittal. Plans are then submitted for review by DEC engineer for compliance with 18 AAC 72 wastewater regulations. Guidance checklists for engineered systems are available to aid in the submittal process. Approval to Construct is granted once plan is found to meet regulation requirements. The Approval to Construct may include conditions for approval and typically grants a two year time period to complete construction.

    Required Submittal Documents

    1. Plan Intake Form
    2. A Plan Review Invoice with payment (see invoice for instructions)
    3. A completed Owner's Statement form
    4. Engineering plans sealed in accordance with 12 AAC 36.185-36.245
  • Step Two - System is Constructed

    The system is constructed according to the plans reviewed and approved by DEC. During the construction, the design engineer will inspect and document the installation. The use of a certified installer is not required but is recommended.

  • Step Three - Obtain Approval to Operate

    Upon completion of construction, the designing engineer will submit the signed Certification of Construction form, record drawings if required, any condition verifications and, if required, a copy of the maintenance agreement between property owner and a qualified service company. The submittal is then reviewed for compliance with DEC wastewater regulations and Approval to Operate is issued by DEC for the new or modified system.

Electronic Submittal Guidance

The Department is currently migrating its e-mail servers and once this is resolved, electronic submittals will be available. Until then, please submit hard copies to the local area office.

September 30, 2019 Interim Guidance

Effective September 30, 2019 Interim Guidance: the section of Engineering Support and Plan Review (ESPR) has been working towards programmatic and organizational changes in order to prioritize section tasks. The higher priority focus areas were determined to include: discharges to Waters of the U.S., higher risk discharges, and areas where the density of smaller scale subsurface wastewater discharges are impacting, or have a higher risk of impacting, groundwater aquifers and surface waters.

In order to redirect staff time to address a significant back log of plan review submittals, reorganization of the section to focus on priority tasks, and to continue efforts towards creating other efficiencies, the ESPR section has determined the current workload must be reduced.

Therefore, in addition to the conventional wastewater systems that are currently exempt from plan approval, an Alaska registered professional engineer may design and oversee construction, without prior approval, for conventional onsite wastewater systems as defined in 18 AAC 72.990(15) serving residential or commercial buildings located on a single lot with a total on lot design flow less than 2,500 gpd as long as the following requirements are met:

  • the conventional wastewater system must not serve buildings operated as part of a larger commercial operation, regardless if located on a separate lot, with a total facility design flow of 2,500 gpd or more,
  • the facility operations in the entirety must only produce domestic wastewater; if any part of the facility operations result in the production of non-domestic wastewater, prior plan approval is still required; private residence garage floor drains are not considered a source of non-domestic wastewater for the purpose of this guidance,
  • the design flow must be calculated using 150 gpd per bedroom for residential units or in accordance with the Uniform Plumbing Code or Environmental Protection Agency manual using typical design flows for that type of facility,
  • the system construction must meet all construction standards and other requirements of 18 AAC 72 and the Onsite Wastewater System Installation Manual (PDF),
  • the system must be registered within 90 days of construction by submitting a completed and sealed Documentation of Construction (DOC) form and paying the $115 registration fee; it is the engineer’s responsibility to ensure the system is properly registered.

Conventional onsite wastewater systems that do not meet these requirements, must continue to have department approval prior to construction. Please refer to the Additional Guidance below for how this may further affect projects that have already been submitted for review.

Additional Guidance

The ESPR section currently has an extensive backlog of plan review submittals. If a wastewater system design that does not require plan review under this interim guidance has already been submitted for review, or has already received construction approval, the following actions may be taken:

  • The Department will not accept payment for any pending plan review fee for wastewater systems that meet the above criteria; the engineer and owner will be informed via email that registration of the system with a DOC form is required.
  • If a plan review fee has already been processed for a system meeting the above criteria, the engineer may request to withdraw the application but no refund will be issued; upon request, the Department will waive the DOC fee for systems registered within one year of the date this guidance is effective.
  • If a request for approval to construct (ATC) is currently under review, the engineer may still request to withdraw the application but no refund will be issued and the DOC fee will not be waived; the withdrawal request may be denied if the plan review engineer has noted major deviations from prescribed standards or has other concerns.
  • If an ATC has already been issued and is current as of the effective date of this guidance, the engineer may
    • submit a request for final approval to operate (FATO) in accordance with the ATC letter so the project can be closed under current regulations, or
    • request the ATC be voided; the system must then be registered in accordance with this guidance and the $115 registration fee paid; the Department may deny this request if conditions were placed on the ATC or the system otherwise did not meet all construction requirements.
  • If an ATC has been issued but has expired as of the effective date of this guidance and no FATO request has been submitted then
    • if the system is already constructed, the engineer must apply for FATO within 90 days, or
    • if system has not yet been constructed, the ATC is void and a DOC with the $115 registration fee must be submitted in accordance with this guidance or future regulations.
  • If a FATO request has already been submitted, no action is needed; the Department will be addressing the backlog.

If there are any questions regarding this guidance, please contact Tonya Bear, ESPR acting section manager, at 451-2177 or Tonya Bear.

To stay informed on other upcoming changes, please join the wastewater systems listserv.

Electronic Submittal Guidance

The Department is currently migrating its e-mail servers and once this is resolved, electronic submittals will be available. Until then, please submit hard copies to the local area office.


The minimum requirements in 18 AAC 72 must be met unless a waiver is acquired from DEC. A waiver request must be prepared by an Alaska licensed engineer and submitted to DEC for review. If a waiver is granted it is applicable until the system is modified or the use of the system is modified unless otherwise noted. A waiver is not automatic and will only be approved if public health can be maintained by design and property specific conditions.

Effective July 1, 2016, Waiver fees are not required for engineered systems submitted for wastewater plan reviews.

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