Environmental Health / ISDS
Photo courtesy of Lori Brininger
The primary responsibility of the Environmental Health Office is to protect the publicís health and environment by preventing the contamination of ground and surface waters through inspections, monitoring, and consultation on septic systems and by issuing permits for the proper construction and installation of septic systems.
- Reviewing plans for proposed septic systems.
- Assessing suitability of soil characteristics, depth to groundwater or bedrock, sizing, and type of septic system for the proposed use.
- Issuing permits for individual septic systems in accordance with State and County regulations.
- Investigating possible failures of existing systems.
Additionally, the Office is responsible for:
- Review of Land Use Change Permit applications for proposed developments as part of the the County's development review team.
- Meeting with developers and interested citizens about environmental and health-related impacts of development proposals.
- Testifying at County Planning Commission and Board of Commissioner land use hearings about the public health aspects of development proposals.
- Providing information and resources about water quality monitoring, burn permits, in-home and outdoor air quality.
- Working with the Gunnison County Health and Human Services to answer questions from the public and address situations that involve the health and well being of people in Gunnison County.
The Towns of Pitkin and Marble are incorporated municipalities and have their own regulations for installation of individual sewage disposal systems. If you have property in either of those towns, you will need to contact them directly. (Gunnison County,by agreement with the Town of Marble, reviews applications and provides inspections for the installation of new, and repair of existing systems.)
Who regulates air quality in Gunnison County?
The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission is the state agency responsible for developing and adopting a regulatory air quality management program for Colorado. The commission also oversees the implementation of the programs they adopt. The commission is responsible for hearing appeals of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Air Pollution Control Division's (APCD) enforcement programs, and issuance of permit terms and conditions.
Where can I get help if I think my business needs an air quality permit?
The State's Small Business Assistance Program can help you determine if you need to have a permit for your business. They can also assist you with completing the appropriate permit application forms. For more information go to Colorado's Small Business Assistance Program's site.
Where can I obtain more information about air quality issues?
Visit the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Air Pollution Control Division's website.
I believe the in-door air in my home is making me sick, what can I do?
In-door air Quality (IAQ) is not regulated in private residences, although there are several resources to obtain specific information about what people can do to improve the air quality in their homes. Check the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's informational sheet about in-home air quality.
I want information about Radon.
Check the Environmental Protection Agency's question and answer sheet about radon.
I am concerned about mold growing in my home; where can I get more information?
"A Brief Guide to Mold and Moisture in Your Home," is available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Gunnison County works cooperatively with the Colorado Consumer Protection Division "...to protect Colorado residents and visitors by preventing an array of health hazards. The Division monitors food, milk, drugs and medical devices; regulates food preparation environments such as restaurants, food manufacturers, and processing plants; day care centers; correctional facilities and schools; regulates, reviews and investigates foods; consumer products and household substances; helps control insects, rodents and other vectors of animal borne diseases; consults with regulated industries, communities, organizations and individuals; coordinates consumer protection activities with local, state and federal agencies; institutes corrective actions for recognized public hazards in the marketplace; and assists consumers with complaints."
Public health concerns about restaurants, day care centers, grocery stores, and schools may be directed to the Division at: Phone (303) 692-3620; FAX:(303) 753-6809; Mailing address: Colorado Consumer Protection Division, 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, Denver, Colorado 80246-1530. Click HERE for the Division's website.
What is a septic system?
A septic system is a method of disposing and treating household wastewater in areas where public sewers are not available. The standard type of septic system involves a septic tank (to hold wastewater from toilets and drainpipes until solids settle out in the tank), and a system of pipes that distribute the remaining liquid waste underground over a large area --the leach field--where the wastewater "percolates" through the soil, which helps to clean the water. The goal is to make sure that this filtration though the soil is sufficient to clean the wastewater before it reaches drinking water well sources or surface waters.
Gunnison County refers to these systems as individual sewage disposal systems (ISDS). Additional information is available from:
Is a septic system permit required and how much does it cost?
Colorado and County regulations require that a permit be issued by the Environmental Health Office before a property owner constructs or repairs a septic system. The cost for a permit to construct a new system or repair an old one are listed in "ISDS Permit Packet: Application and Guide for Property Owners and General Contractors"
What do I do if I need a septic system?
Contact the Environmental Health Office (970) 641-5105for an ISDS Permit application. Once the application is completed and submitted, we will do an inspection of your site to insure the system can be constructed in compliance with Colorado and County regulations and that soil and ground water conditions are satisfactory for a septic system.
Once your septic system has been constructed by a licensed septic system contractor, we will perform an inspection to insure that the contractor constructed the system to meet current regulations.
What do I do if my septic system is failing?
Contact the Environmental Health Office. We will meet with you onsite to on assess the possible causes for failure and advise you on how the system can be repaired and brought into compliance with Colorado and County regulations. We can also provide you with the list of septic system contractors who are licensed to perform repairs. A Repair Permit is required before beginning any system upgrade.
Why is it necessary to have my septic tank pumped?
The cost of a septic system is a major investment. To protect that investment and prolong the life of your system, it is necessary to have the septic tank pumped out. Since all solids in your household wastewater settle out in the tank, it's important to have the tank pumped to avoid having sludge block the pipes that allows the liquids to move on to the leach field for filtration. Failure to routinely pump the septic tank may result in the clogging of your leach field and cause a premature malfunction of the system.
What kind of information needs to be considered in planning a new residential subdivision that will use septic systems for sewage disposal?
Site conditions that affect the operation of individual sewage disposal systems include the types of soils that are present, depth to the groundwater table, depth to bedrock and the presence of surface water such as lakes or irrigation ditches. With a thorough knowledge of site conditions, subdivisions can be designed to take advantage of the best soils for treating sewage while avoiding problem conditions such as high groundwater or irrigation ditches. Some of the options used in the subdivision design process include clustering, variations in lot size, and creation of open space in areas not suitable for septic systems.
Where can I have my well water tested?
Gunnison County does not provide a well-testing service. The City of Gunnison Water Laboratory"...serves the surrounding basin from Montrose to Monarch and from Mt. Crested Butte to Saguache and Lake City. The laboratory measures the efficiency of wastewater facilities from local municipalities and tests drinking water wells samples for anyone who needs to ensure potabliity." Click HERE to access the City's information and phone number for the Lab.
Does the County monitor water resources?
The County does not own and operate water monitors to evaluate water quality. It participates with and provides support for the U.S. Geologic Survey "Upper Gunnison River Watershed-Assessment of Historical and Current (1999) Water-Quality Conditions." Click HERE to connect to the USGS Colorado Water Science Center website.
The U.S. Department of Energy has been responsible for monitoring groundwater related to the former mill tailings site south of Gunnison, which was remediated in the 1990's. Click HERE for information about the site clean-up and ongoing water assessment there and downstream.
The Rocky Mountain Biological Lab at Gothic has stream flow monitoring stations on Copper Creek and the East River. Click HERE for the RMBL website/page for more information.
The Coal Creek Watershed Coalition (CCWC), in which Gunnison County is one of several stakeholders,has been formed to restore the health of aquatic life and habitat, and protect other water uses in the Coal Creek watershed, which have been impaired due to metals and other pollutant loading from point and non-point sources (NPS).The Coal Creek Watershed is located in the Ruby-Anthracite Range and is a tributary to the Slate, East, and Gunnison Rivers. Coal Creek is the primary municipal water source for the Town of Crested Butte. Click HERE for more information about the Coalition's work.
Who regulates and monitors water supply wastewater treatment facilities in Gunnison County?
Central wastewater treatment plants and community water systems of municipalities, special districts and private operations are regulated by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Water Quality Control Division.
What's a Storm Water Discharge Permit and who has to get one?
The Colorado Water Quality Control Division oversees storm water permitting and regulation. Click HERE for the Division's website.
Blackstock Government Center
221 N. Wisconsin Street
Gunnison, CO 81230
Phone: (970) 641-0360
Fax: (970) 641-8585