Sewage Enforcement Officers (SEO)
On June 5, 2020, Act 34 was signed into law as an amendment to the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act (35 P.S. §750)(SFA). Act 34 of 2020 amended sections of the SFA that were previously amended by Act 26 of 2017; specifically, sections 5(c.1) and 5(c.2). On March 2, 2021, an “All SEO Letter” was sent to clarify the Department’s expectation of what municipalities should do with proposals for new land development that they have already received and that were submitted based on the draft
Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act Program Guidance; Site Suitability and Alternatives Analysis Guidelines for New Land Development Proposing On lot Sewage Disposal (385-2207-001) (Planning Guidance) that was developed in response to Act 26 of 2017. The letter contains important deadlines for sewage planning proposals. On May 19, 2021, another “All SEO Letter” was sent providing additional guidance (entitled
Act 34 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)) to address specific items associated with the implementation of the SFA as amended by Act 34 of 2020. Both “All SEO Letters” can be found under the All SEO Letters heading on this webpage. The
Act 34 FAQ was rewritten on October 13, 2021.
SEO Certification and Training Program Guidance
SEO Certification and Training Program Guidance (385-2314-002) has been revised. It was published in the
Pennsylvania Bulletin on December 12, 2020, as final. The Technical Guidance Document (TGD) and the Comment and Response Document is now posted in the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) eLibrary and is also accessible via the link below under the heading SEO Training Program. The TGD provides a framework for the Sewage Enforcement Officer (SEO) certification and training program with the goal of producing a knowledgeable and skilled SEO community to help administer the on-lot sewage program in Pennsylvania. The program includes criteria for SEO candidates who wish to become certified SEOs, criteria for certified SEOs to maintain their SEO certification, and criteria for lapsed or inactive SEOs who wish to reinstate their SEO certification. In response to public comments on the draft TGD, changes were made, including: several clarifications; providing for up to three continuing education credits to be carried over from one certification cycle to the next certification cycle; and providing options for inactive SEOs wishing to return to active status, to test out of the precertification soils course. Changes of note:
- Rollover credits have been reduced from seven (7) to three (3).
- A DEP approved precertification soils course is now required, along with the precertification academy before a candidate is eligible to take the certification exam. The prospective SEO must pass the precertification soils exam, fully attend the precertification academy and pass the certification exam before attaining their certification.
- All currently certified SEOs who in the past have not successfully completed a DEP approved precertification soils course have five (5) years from December 12th, 2020, to complete a DEP approved soils course and pass the exam. Currently the Soil Hub precertification soils course is the only approved course to meet this requirement. SEOs can login to the
PA Clean Water Academy online for information regarding this course.
- SEO certification cycles will change to a 2-year rolling certification, based upon their certification date. This will only affect newly certified SEOs and those SEOs changing from a lapsed to an active certification status. All current SEOs will maintain their 2-year certification cycle as October 1 to September 30 of even numbered years.
Inspection Fees for Complaint Investigations
The Department recently received an inquiry from a local agency regarding the charging of a fee for a Sewage Enforcement Officer to conduct a complaint investigation. We have been advised by DEP's regulatory counsel that the imposition of such a fee is not sanctioned by the Sewage Facilities Act and is not one of the powers and duties granted to municipalities by the legislature. Please consult with your regional DEP office if you have any questions in this regards.
New Fact Sheet - Understanding Onlot Sewage Disposal At Leased State Forest And State Park Campsites
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) entered into a joint policy in June 1996 (modified December 2002) regarding privies, holding tanks, and water supplies under pressure for existing leased campsites on state lands. To further provide clarification to SEOs and campsite Lessees of the obligations under the Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act and DEP's and DCNR's regulations regarding sewage disposal on leased campsites, DEP and DCNR have partnered to develop this new fact sheet.
Chesapeake Bay States Sign Data Sharing Agreement on Advanced Onsite Wastewater Treatment
On April 16, 2015, the states of Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) to share data developed to document the performance of advanced onsite pretreatment units for nitrogen reduction. This will simplify and expedite the approval processes for these technologies in each individual state, and reduce costs to residents and manufacturers. Prior to this
MOC, all states nationwide approved systems on an individual basis, and many do not take data collected by other state programs into account.
The benefits of data sharing include:
- Approved protocols that can be used by the manufacturing community and shared between states
- New technologies being brought to market more quickly via additional manufacturers
- Expanded use of nitrogen reducing treatment systems
- Reduced burden on states to individually monitor and evaluate performance data
- Reduced costs associated with technology approval, which can reduce the costs of systems and pass that savings along to the consumer
These advanced treatment systems reduce nitrogen loading by an average minimum of 50 percent. Onsite systems are the smallest source of nutrient loading to the Bay at 3-4% according to the modeling efforts at the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program Office.
SEO Conflicts of Interest
As a result of recent inquiries from SEOs regarding conflicts of interest, please follow this
legal directive (PDF) if conditions apply.
SEO Training Program
Active Sewage Enforcement Officers
Any questions regarding SEO certification or continuing education should be directed to the
Secretary of the State Board for Certification of Sewage Enforcement Officer
State Board for Certification of Sewage Enforcement Officer
via email at
or by telephone at
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