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Water Q & A - Septic system placement

Septic tank treatment diagram, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights April 2018.
Diagram of how a septic tank treats water

Do you have questions about your private drinking water supply?  How about wellhead protection, including the management of your private sewage treatment system?  Send your questions using the Ask An Expert feature on this web site.  Questions will be addressed by Nebraska Extension Educator Meghan Sittler, Nebraska Extension Specialist Bruce Dvorak,  and/or  Nebraska Extension Educator Katie Pekarek. One question and answer will be featured each month in this section of the acreage web site.

Q:  We are building a house on an acreage.  Towards the back of the property is a small stream. How far does our septic system have to be from the stream?

Meghan: A septic system and/or a soil absorption field (commonly referred to as a drainfield), needs to be at least 50 feet away from any surface water.  Lagoon systems also need to be a minimum of 50 feet from surface water. Surface water includes streams, lakes, ponds, rivers, and wetlands.  All set back distances can be found in Title 124, which is the set of regulations covering onsite wastewater systems. 

Meghan Sittler
Meghan Sittler
Extension Educator - Domestic Water & Wastewater
Meghan's education includes a master's degree in natural resources with minors in political science and environmental planning. She also has a graduate certification in public policy analysis, as well as undergraduate degrees in environmental studies and anthropology from UNL. Her graduate project was focused on the development of collaborative and adaptive management for the Missouri River.

Sittler began as coordinator of the Lower Platte River Corridor Alliance in December 2008. Prior to that, Sittler worked for the National Park Service as an archaeological technician, an environmental educator with the Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department, an adviser and instructor with the UNL Environmental Studies program and School of Natural Resources and as a research and outreach specialist for the National Drought Mitigation Center. Meghan began her work as a Nebraska Extension Educator focussing on water in 2016.

Lancaster County Extension Office
444 Cherrycreek Rd
Lincoln NE 68528-1591