On-site Wastewater Treatment Systems

septic soldier

Within the City of Los Angeles there are clusters of unsewered properties that dispose of their wastewater by means of onsite wastewater treatment systems (OWTS, also known as septic systems). Throughout the City, there are approximately 13,000 residential, multi-family, and commercial / industrial properties served by OWTS. It is the responsibility of owners to properly operate and maintain their septic systems.



The State Water Resources Control Board has responsibility for regulating OWTS and protecting Groundwater resources. However, LA Sanitation’s OWTS group is available to assist property owners with regulatory agencies including: the US EPA, State Water Resources Control Board, and the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board. Additionally, LA Sanitation’s OWTS group provides customer service to OWTS owners and operators to ensure protection of the City’s surface water and groundwater resources. This is done by maintaining constant contact with the federal, state, and other local government entities to ensure that OWTS are meeting water quality and construction standards for maintaining the City’s environmental and public health needs. LA Sanitation’s OWTS group also partners with the US EPA, the Department of City Planning, and the Green Street Committee to phase out high-risk large capacity cesspools that pose the greatest threat to the City’s water resources. Most recently, the LA Sanitation’s OWTS group has directed its attention to providing sewer access to areas of the City that currently aren’t connected.


LA Sanitation’s OWTS group provides information on how OWTS should properly function as well as tips for the proper operation and maintenance of OWTS through a homeowner’s guide that is readily available online.

LA Sanitation hopes to help prolong the life of OWTS owned by homeowners and operators, while avoiding the common issues of spills and overflows caused by substandard or failing OWTS conditions. According to the EPA, up to 20% of septic systems fail every year and pollute the environment.


LA Sanitation's OWTS Group continues to proactively explore several funding sources to assist OWTS Owners who would like to properly abandon their OWTS and connect to sewer. So far a total of $13.5 million in grant funding applications have submitted to the following programs:
  1. Cleanup and Abatement Account ($10,000,000)
  2. Community Development Block Grant ($1,893,421)
  3. Integrated Regional Water Management Program ($1,339,486)
  4. Clean Water Act 319(h)Non-point Source Grant ($218,750)
If secured, these funds would be used to construct public sewers within unsewered areas of the City; especially those designated as high-risk areas and disadvantages communities. Additionally, LA Sanitation's OWTS Group is partnering with the EPA, the Department of City Planning, and the Green Streets Committee to phase out high-risk large capacity cesspools that pose the greatest threat to the City's water resources.


LA Sanitation’s OWTS group is assisting the Bureau of Engineering (BOE) in developing Sewer Assessment Projects that would provide sewers within areas of the City that are currently unsewered. An Assessment Proceeding is a democratic way by which a majority of OWTS owners within an area can get together to build sewers for connecting their properties, and pay a fair share over a period of time. To initiate a sewer assessment process, residents are encouraged to obtain a petition form from any of the following four BOE district offices:

(1).Valley District Office
Braude Building
6262 Van Nuys Blvd., Suite 251
Van Nuys, CA 91401-2615
(818) 374-5090
Fax: (818) 374-4615

(2).West Los Angeles District Office
1828 Sawtelle Blvd., 3rd Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90025-5516
(310) 575-8384
Fax: (310) 575-8631

(3).Central District Office
201 N. Figueroa Street, 3rd Floor Counter
Los Angeles, CA 90012-2601
(213) 482-7030
Fax: (213) 482-7007

(4).Harbor District Office
638 Beacon Street, Suite 402
San Pedro, CA 90731
(310) 732-4677
Fax: (310) 732-4670


LA Sanitation’s OWTS group facilitates permitting process for homeowners and operators that need permits for new construction, alterations, or replacements of their OWTS. The group accomplishes this by collaborating with the Bureau of Engineering, LA Sanitation's Watershed Protection Division, Department of Building and Safety, and the Regional Water Quality Control Board. Below, are the two primary types of conventional OWTS permitted in the City of Los Angeles.

Septic System Examples


For your septic systems concerns or questions, please email us at septic.system@lacity.org. You may also call Alfredo Zaldivar at (323) 342-6258.

Si necesita asistencia en Español, favor de comunicarse con Diandra Ortiz al (323) 342-1560.

If you prefer to write us you may contact us at:

LA Sanitation & Environment
Wastewater Engineering Services Division
Attention: Alfredo Zaldivar, OWTS Program
2714 Media Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90065