What is an innovative/alternative (I/A) Title 5 system?

An I/A system is any septic system or part of one that is not designed or constructed in a way consistent with a conventional Title 5 system. A conventional system has a septic tank, a distribution box or dosing mechanism, a soil absorption system (SAS) and a reserve area. Some examples of alternative systems are recirculating sand filters, aerobic treatment units, Wisconsin mounds, peat filters, humus/composting toilets, and intermittent sand filters.

What I/A systems are being used right now?

Recirculating sand filters and humus/composting toilets are specifically approved for general use by Title 5, subject to certain conditions listed at 310 CMR 15.202 (RSFs) and 310 CMR 15.289 (humus/composting toilets). MassDEP has issued many approvals and certifications for I/A technologies, and new technologies are under review on an ongoing basis. See details on MassDEP's approval process . Also view a list of technologies approved or under review .

Do I/A systems work?

I/A systems can perform as well or better than conventional systems, when they are designed, built, operated and maintained in accordance with MassDEP's approval and the manufacturer's recommendations. See details on maintaining an I/A system .

I would like to install a composting toilet. Should I apply to MassDEP?

Not when your proposed use of the humus/composting toilet meets the conditions of the certification for General Use, in 310 CMR 15.289(3) . Any proposed use of a composting toilet that does not meet the conditions of Title 5 must be approved by your Board of Health and MassDEP.

No matter what use is proposed for a composting toilet, you must have a Disposal System Construction Permit doc format of Disposal System Construction Permit
pdf format of                             Form 2A - Disposal System Construction Permit                from your local Board of Health before installing it.

Can I use an I/A system for new construction if my lot does not meet Title 5 requirements for percolation rate, four feet of naturally occurring soil, or the required separation from high groundwater?

No. Although Title 5 provides flexibility in order to help property owners continue to use existing homes and businesses, new construction or increases in design flow must meet the design standards listed above. See details on the MassDEP approval process for I/A technologies.

I am building a new house and would like to use a technology that currently is not used in Massachusetts. How do I get an approval?

The technology manufacturer may apply to MassDEP for Piloting or Provisional approval, or for General Use Certification (310 CMR 15.280 - 15.289 ). Or, you may apply to MassDEP for approval to pilot the technology on your property. To pilot an alternative system for new construction, including an increase in design flow, you must show that the property could support a conventional system; this provision provides for a back-up in case the piloted system fails. More information on I/A systems for repair and new construction is also available.

Where can I obtain a list of technologies approved for use in Massachusetts?

See a list of technologies approved or under review , and Title 5 Innovative/Alternative Technology Approval Letters .

How does a Board of Health verify that there is a valid Operation and Maintenance (O&M) contract in place for an Innovative/Alternative (I/A) system?

The Local Board of Health can require the owner to provide a copy of a valid O&M contract.