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Septic Systems - Sub Divisions


Summary of Programs

The Manchester Health Department has vital planning, plan approval and regulatory responsibilities to assure that public health and the environment are protected. This is especially true when referring to the disposal of wastewater through on-site sewage disposal systems. Approximately fifteen percent of homes and businesses in Manchester currently rely upon individual septic systems to dispose of their sewage. The Environmental Health Division is responsible for investigating reports of failed septic systems as well as inspecting newly constructed and replaced systems. This procedure includes witnessing test pits to determine soil characteristics, reviewing plans to assess conformity with local and state regulations, and performing inspections at various stages of septic system construction to ensure proper installation. In addition, the Division also reviews all proposed subdivisions to assure adequate lot size and soil conditions to support on-site sewage disposal prior to submission to the Planning Board. Finally, all reports of failed septic systems are investigated and followed-up on.

On-site sewage disposal systems (septic systems) provide a cost effective and efficient way of disposing of domestic sewage. However, improperly designed, installed or maintained septic systems may result in the release of poorly treated or untreated effluent. This discharge may contaminate adjacent ground and/or surface waters, endangering public health and threatening the environment. Proper disposal of wastewater is necessary not only to protect the public health but also prevent contamination of ground and surface waters. Domestic sewage is routinely contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, viruses, helminthes, protozoa and spirochetes. It is imperative that sewage and wastewater be properly disposed of for the general well being of the public.


The Manchester Health Department is charged with enforcing various state statutes relating to the correction of health hazards created by failed septic systems (RSA 147 and RSA 485-A), and is the local agent for the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES). The Department is also responsible for the permit process and enforcement of provisions of Chapter 53 of the City of Manchester Code of Ordinances relating to on-site sewage disposal. The NHDES rules pertaining to septic systems can be found in Chapter Env-Ws 1000; "Subdivision and Individual Sewage Disposal Systems Design Rules".

Program Notes

The City of Manchester has seen a limited number of new septic constructions over the past three years. There have been however, a constant number of septic system inspections and related activities. The number of replacement systems and failures typically remains constant; assuming a random number of the currently installed systems will require replacement at any given time. Some factors which may affect the rate of failure include: development of less than suitable sites, change in estimated seasonal water tables (climate change), and lifespan of new, alternate technologies. Some factors which may influence installation of new systems include: new housing market, subdivision of remaining large tracts of land, lending company mandates for updated systems upon property transfer, and the connection of houses served by septic systems to the municipal sewer. It is anticipated that similar resources will be required for this program during the foreseeable future.

The Division witnesses' test pits, reviews plans, issues permits and conducts inspections of newly constructed and repaired on-site sewage disposal systems. In addition, all reports of failed septic systems are investigated and followed-up on.  Finally, all proposed subdivisions, which include on-site sewage disposal, are reviewed prior to submission to the Planning Board.

Minimum Lot Size Requirements

To assure adequate lot size and soil conditions to support on site sewage disposal click here.