Private Well & Septic Service

When your property uses a well for drinking water supply and a septic system for wastewater disposal, you essentially become your own sanitary utility. You own and operate the facilities, maintain them, and must replace them when necessary. We use the term “onsite systems” to refer to private water supply wells and private septic systems collectively. The State of Maryland also refers to these as "individual systems". The ability of these private systems to provide fresh water and dispose of sewage depends on the soil and rock conditions under your property and on how well you maintain and operate the systems.

Please use the following “Quick Links” if

  • You have If you have arrived at this webpage because you have:
    • a problem with your well or septic system,
    • a problem with a neighbor’s well or septic system, or
    • a need specific information about well and septic system testing and permitting requirements.
  • You want to sign up for the County’s Onsite Systems Management Program.
Water Supply Wells Water Supply Wells

A water supply well taps into and collects the groundwater in the rock strata under your property, which you then pump out for your use.

Septic Systems Septic Systems

A septic system treats wastewater that flows from your home or business and disperses partially treated effluent into the ground for final treatment as it percolates through the soil.

testing and permiting Testing & Permitting

The testing and permitting requirements ensure that when wells and septic systems are installed, that purpose is accomplished.

Onsite problems Onsite Systems Problems

Wells and septic systems can have problems that result in conditions hazardous to human and environmental health.

management program Management Program

A proactive approach for onsite systems users, addressing the operation, maintenance, and testing of wells and septic systems.

glen hills map Glen Hills Study

Learn more about the study of septic systems and soil conditions in the Glen Hills area located southwest of Rockville.

Exceptions for Onsite Systems Use in Public Service Areas

Where properties are planned for public water and sewer service, the County’s expectation is that owners will pursue service from public systems if an onsite well and/or septic system fails or if new development or redevelopment is proposed. However, not all properties within the County’s planned public service areas have direct access to existing water and sewer mains. Onsite work for public service for some properties may involve restrictive complications or excessive cost. An onsite system failure may present public and/or environmental health concerns that require expedited relief. A property owner may request the temporary use of an onsite well and/or septic system in these circumstances. Where properties are designated as water and sewer categories W-1, W-3, S-1, or S-3, the Department of Permitting Services (DPS) will require an exception from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that allows for the use of either a new or a replacement onsite system.

A property owner or the owner’s designated representative may request a category 1 or 3 onsite system exception from DEP using this linked application:

Please follow the instructions on the form for completing and submitting the application.

An applicant may find it helpful to discuss their specific case with DEP staff before applying for an exception. Please do not hesitate to contact either of the following staff members for information or with questions.

Planning Specialist III (position currently vacant)

Alan Soukup
[email protected]

DEP does not charge a fee for an onsite systems exception request.

Note that a DEP exception approval does not guarantee DPS permitting of an onsite well or septic system. If DPS does issue a permit for a new or replacement onsite system under these conditions, DPS will likely issue an “interim” permit for the onsite system. Interim permits require that owners of properties abandon the onsite system and connect to public service within a year of the time that public service becomes available. Please refer to the DPS Land Use Division for additional information about onsite system permitting issues; scroll down the page to the section titled "Well and Septic".