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Waste Water Systems In Montana

 
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Hey everyone!

I'm new on permies. My partner and I are purchasing land to steward in Ravalli County, MT and I was told today that because the cabin will be lived in year round we are required to have a septic system. We have humanure toilets and will be getting water via rainwater catchment and supplementing as needed. Do you have any information on if our water system being off the grid would legally get us around the waste water codes? We are doing everything above board, but prefer to scar the earth as little as humanly possible.

Thank you!

Claira
 
pollinator
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Location: Bendigo , Australia
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My signature has Rainfall catchment and usage covered, as for sewerage that is a different issue.
Generally regulations about septics are to deal with human health, nothing else.
Sometimes it may not look that way, but thats life, and they are set up for dills to use.

Your local area may have specific ideas in mind, so find out first and then work from that point.
From;
septic_system_permitting_in_montana.pdf
Here are the regulations for Montana, they seem comprehensive and give you choices.

Dont forget a lot iof people have septic systems with ground dispersal and also have wells for drinking water!!

 
rocket scientist
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Hi Claira;
Every county has different rules.
I'm in Sanders county. Until the last 20 years we could still install and use an outhouse.
Now we must have county involvement in the perk testing and system design.
Generally speaking its not really a big deal IF you pass the perk test.
The Bitterroot valley  being very affluent, probably has very strict rules  and the manpower to inspect / enforce those rules.
To play above the board you will need to follow those rules.
At the very least you'll end up getting a perk test done.
If your land passes perk then things become easier.
You may need to install a simple septic tank and drainfield.
This will increase the value of your land and you can quickly reseed  the disturbed ground.
You DO NOT need to use that system if you don't want to, your composting toilet will be fine.
But you will have followed the law and made an improvement on the land (The next steward might like having a septic) .

Being an original homestead here in Sanders county we have an outhouse and we always will.
However it has not gotten used much in the last 40 years But its there if we need it... plumbing does plug up or break sometimes...
 
master steward
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There are some permies down the bitterroot that have pushed these boundaries ...

https://permies.com/missoula

https://permies.com/t/176121/Bitterroot-Natural-Building-Workshops


 
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Your county AHJ's would seem to be the board of health and the county building department. If the land is out in these areas of AHJ, then the website with all the details appears to be:

https://ravalli.us/167/Septic-Permits

A quick perusal of their documentation yields requirements for licensed installers, design engineers, no exception for a landowner to install their own system (unless they get licensed as an installer), and so on. Perk tests requiring 8' mini-excavator hole, other analysis tests ...

There does appear to be an allowance for composting toilets, but only if an approved "greywater" system is designed and installed ... this needs more exploration to fully understand, as I couldn't find further details on the above website. Even though they understand composting toilets, the  greywater system requirements might go the same route as the septic system, meaning not much different in permitting and installation (almost the same as an approved wastewater system?) and for a few bucks more, a full wastewater system could be put in.

If you haven't bought the land yet, I'd ask for assistance from local installers, who hopefully will do initial consultations for free. Even extended consultations are worth it as part of the investigation to determine if you want this particular piece of property. These folks know what it takes to work with the AHJ's, or what would fly to handle and resolve issues and constraints, including the possibility of composting toilets, greywater, and so on. You might also get a handle on initial and final costs from them.

Add in to that the size of the property and suitability for such wastewater systems (does the land have gotcha's, like flood plains, waterways, etc.), the proximity of neighbors and their visibility into what you are doing on the land, and so on ... it all has to be discovered and dealt with, hopefully before purchase ...

Hope this helps ...
 
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