County of Sonoma California

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Septic Tank/Chemical Toilet Waste Pumping and Disposal Program

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Liquid waste that is collected from septic tanks, chemical toilets and vaults must be transported to an approved waste water treatment facility in a sanitary manner. To ensure that these pumper trucks can accomplish this, requirements are set forth from the California Health and Safety Code and the Sonoma County Code.

Bond Required of Permittees

All persons who intend to engage in any of the work covered by this article shall first execute a corporate surety bond in the sum of one thousand dollars payable to the county, conditioned upon the faithful performance of the terms and conditions. This bond must be actively renewed before their expiration date. These bonds shall be filed with the County.


An application form (pdf) must be completed and submitted for vehicle/s used for pumping , cleaning or transporting liquid waste. Each application must be accompanied by the permit fee, based on the number of pumper trucks. Upon approval of the application and fee, Sonoma County Environmental Health and Safety will conduct an inspection of each vehicle. A permit to operate will be issued after all requirements have been met and the pumper truck tank passes the inspection.

Reporting of Pumping Activity

Each permittee must submit pumping reports (pdf) to Sonoma County Environmental Health and Safety by the 10th of each month. The report must list the previous month's pumping activities in the county.

Change of Address

Any permittee changing an address must notify this office in writing within 2 days of such change. A permittee must submit information regarding any changes in DMV license plates or equipment to this office at the time these changes are made.

Suspension or Revocation of Permits

Any permit issued may be suspended or revoked by Sonoma County Environmental Health and Safety if regulations are not followed or requirements not met.

Disposal Sites

All waste must be disposed of at an approved disposal facility. These include:

  • Sewage treatment facilities: A permittee must obtain approval or a permit from a sewering entity authorizing him to dispose of sewage in its sewage treatment facility.
  • Refuse disposal sites (landfill): A permittee must provide the name and location of the landfill.
  • Out-of-County sites: When a proposed disposal site is not in Sonoma County, written approval from the environmental health and safety office having jurisdiction of the proposed site must be submitted by the permittee.

Waste must be disposed of in a manner and at sites approved by Sonoma County Environmental Health and Safety. Sewage wastes can transmit diseases to humans. Wastes must not be disposed of in water courses, streams, storm drains, onto the ground surface, roadsides, near wells, on lawns, gardens, crops, or in floodplains. Any spilled wastes must be immediately cleaned up. Sonoma County Environmental Health and Safety reserves the right to require special disposal conditions for a permittee if problems should arise from his or her operation. Disposal at sites other than those approved by Sonoma County Environmental Health and Safety is a violation of Sections 25000-25010 of the California Health and Safety Code.

Pumper Truck Requirements

  • Each pumper truck tank must be of metal construction and must be watertight and splash proof. A measuring device must be provided on each vehicle to measure accurately the contents of the tank.
  • Each pumper's pump must be constructed so that there is no leakage, spillage or splashing onto the outer surfaces of the tank or other equipment.
  • Each pumper truck must carry at all times a spill kit consisting of absorbent material or a containment boom, shovel and a container to mitigate accidental and incidental spillage.
  • A leakproof gate valve must be provided on each tank for the discharge or loading of the contents. Vehicles must also have a leakproof screw plug or cap on each valve at all times.
  • The cap must be chained at all times.
  • A pipe or hose of sufficient length (at least 50' long) to extend into a sewer manhole or disposal pit must be provided. The pipe or hose must be completely drained into the manhole or pit to avoid any spillage of contents onto the ground.
  • All racks for carrying equipment on the truck must be made of metal.
  • All parts of the truck and equipment must be designed and maintained to be easily cleanable.
  • Each vehicle must have the following information printed on both sides of the tank or truck in letters at least 4 inches high with strokes at least 1/2 inch wide:
    • Name and address of the company.
    • Capacity of the tank in gallons.

Pumping and Cleaning Operations

  • Each compartment of a septic tank must be pumped whenever it is opened for cleaning. If problems are noted with the septic system, please inform the property owner that permits are required to repair or replace any portion of a septic system.
  • Cleaning operations must be conducted in a manner that will not endanger human health or the environment. Any spillage of sewage must be cleaned immediately.

Chemical Toilet Requirements

  • Toilet facilities must be designed, constructed and maintained to prevent the access of flies or vermin to the wastes.
  • The interior surfaces of all toilet facilities must be of durable, non-absorbent material, smooth, easily cleanable, and finished in a light color.
  • Each toilet seat must be smooth, durable, easily cleanable, and non-absorbent.
  • The toilet facilities must be ventilated and provided with self-closing doors, lockable from the inside.
  • The tanks of chemical toilets must be constructed of durable, easily cleanable material. Tank size must be sufficient to contain the initial chemical charge and provide capacity for at least one day's use for forty persons (a minimum tank capacity of forty gallons must be provided).
  • Construction of the tank must be such as to prevent spillage from occurring when tipped or turned over.
  • Only biodegradable chemicals, capable of controlling odors, disinfecting, and liquefying solids, must be used in chemical toilets.
  • Disposal of contents of chemical toilets must be into an approved disposal site. A copy of a
  • permit to dispose of waste at an approved disposal site must be on file with Sonoma County Environmental Health and Safety prior to the rental of any chemical toilet in Sonoma County.
  • Toilet facilities must be maintained in a clean and sanitary manner, free of odor and stains.
  • Each chemical toilet must be identified with the name of the company and a unit number.
  • The lettering must be at least three (3) inches in height with strokes at least 1/2 inch wide.
  • Chemical toilets must be stored at a site approved by Sonoma County Environmental Health and Safety.
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