A permit for a Private Sewage Disposal system is required for the installation or replacement of any of the following: 

  • sewage or privy holding tank
  • septic tank with treatment field, mound or open discharge
  • treatment plant and at-grade treatment field or mound

All septic and holding tanks are required to comply with the size requirements as outlined in the Alberta Private Sewage Systems Standards of Practice (ABSOP) 2015 edition, section 4.2. 

For permit information relating to the installation or replacement of septic tanks that connect to municipal low-pressure mains (STEP system), see Septic Tank Plumbing Permit connecting to Municipal Low-Pressure Main.

Note: A separate plumbing permit may be required for water/sewer connections.  

Private sewage disposal

On many rural properties and some industrial sites, private on-site sewage disposal systems are used to collect, treat or partially treat and/or dispose of wastewater. It is important to have a properly designed system based on the land use needs and site conditions in order to ensure efficiency and functionality.  

Private sewage system requirements should be assessed alongside any on-site development including, but not limited to, the construction of a new building, the expansion or alteration of a building, the changing or intensification of the use of the site (i.e. growing a family, adding a home-based business, etc.) or any other change to the site that could impact water usage and wastewater disposal.  

Applying for permits in person

Please submit the following:

  • A completed Private Sewage Disposal Permit application form  
  • A site plan showing:
    • proposed location of the system components 
    • distances to the property lines, water sources, water wells, septic tanks, lift station tanks and treatment components 
    • locations and dimensions of wet lands, water courses, ponds, streams and dugouts 
    • existing buildings and structures on the property 
    • dimensions of the property and proposed system components 
    • other features of the property (i.e. treed areas) 
    • easements and utility rights-of-way
  • Soil profile information using the Canadian System of Soil Classification, which must include soil profile descriptions as per Article 3) of the ABSOP 2015 
  • Lab reports on soil classification in accordance with Article 3) c) of the ABSOP 
  • Calculation worksheets showing the calculations used to determine appropriate treatment components. Examples are available at: Private sewage design tools | Alberta.ca 

Who can apply?

  • Certified private sewage installers can apply for permits for all system types. 
  • Certified restricted private sewage installers can apply for holding tank projects only.  
  • Homeowners who own and reside in or intend to reside in the residence on the affected site and are completing the work themselves may apply for permits for a soil-based disposal system.

Permit fees

Fees - please see the County's current fee schedule

Note: The Safety Code Council fee also applies to building permits. Please see the current building fee schedule. 

Permit conditions

  • If the contractor is applying for the permit, the property owner is advised to review a copy of the permit to confirm that all system components are designed and installed in accordance with the 2015 ABSOP and the Safety Codes Act
  • A complete Landowner Confirmation of Information form is required as part of an application for a Private Sewage Disposal System permit  
  • A PSD permit expires one year after issue unless an extension has been granted  
  • Work must begin within 90 days of the permit issue date 
  • Work must not be suspended or abandoned for a period of more than 120 days 

What you need to know

There are numerous variables that need to be considered in the design of a private sewage system including, but not limited to, size of property, building size and use, soil type and geotechnical circumstances (i.e. high water table).  

The Safety Codes Council has produced a number of documents that provide information and recommendations regarding various types of projects including private sewage system development. These are available here: Safety Tips - Safety Codes Council  

Strathcona County Safety Codes Officers are available for technical inquiries and can be reached at 780-464-8080. They can provide information regarding tank sizing and separation distances and assist with obtaining additional relevant information to support the preparation of a system design. However, Safety Codes Officers do not design PSD systems.  

Once installed, private sewage systems require regular and ongoing maintenance. Be sure to follow all operations and maintenance processes for your system.  


Planning and Development Services
Phone: 780-464-8080
Fax: 780-464-8142
Email: planninganddevelopment@strathcona.ca

Last updated: Monday, April 25, 2022
Page ID: 51081