Glossary of Terms

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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Aerobic digestion – The bacterial decomposition and stabilization of sewage in the presence of free oxygen.

Alter – To change an OSSF resulting in:

  • an increase in the volume of permitted flow;
  • a change in the nature of permitted influent;
  • a change from the planning materials approved by the permitting authority;
  • a change in construction; or
  • an increase, lengthening, or expansion of the treatment or disposal system.

Anaerobic digestion – The bacterial decomposition and stabilization of sewage in the absence of free oxygen.

Apprentice – An individual who has been properly registered with the executive director, and is undertaking a training program under the direct supervision of a licensed installer.

Authorization to Construct – Written permission from the permitting authority to construct an OSSF showing the date the permission was granted.  The authorization to construct is the first part of the permit.

Authorized agent – A local governmental entity that has been delegated the authority by the executive director to implement and enforce the rules adopted under Texas Health and Safety Code, Chapter 366.

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Borehole – A drilled hole four feet or greater in depth and one to three feet in diameter.

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Certificate of registration – The license held by an individual that allows an individual to perform specific tasks under these rules, and that is issued by the executive director.

Certified professional soil scientist – An individual who has met the certification requirements of the American Society of Agronomy to engage in the practice of soil science.

Cesspool – A non–watertight, covered receptacle intended for the receipt and partial treatment of sewage.  This device is constructed such that its sidewalls and bottom are open–jointed to allow the gradual discharge of liquids while retaining the solids for anaerobic decomposition.

Cluster system – A sewage collection, treatment, and disposal system designed to serve two or more sewage–generating units on separate legal tracts where the total combined flow from all units does not exceed 5,000 gallons per day.

Commercial or institutional facility – Any building that is not used as a single–family dwelling or duplex.

Compensation – A payment to construct, alter, repair, extend, maintain, or install an OSSF.  Payment may be in the form of cash, check, charge, or other form of monetary exchange or exchange of property or services for service rendered.

Composting toilet – A self–contained treatment and disposal facility constructed to decompose non–waterborne human wastes through bacterial action.

Condensate drain – A pipe that is used for the disposal of water generated by air conditioners, refrigeration equipment, or other equipment.

Construct – To engage in any activity related to the installation, alteration, extension, or repair of an OSSF, including all activities from disturbing the soils through connecting the system to the building or property served by the OSSF.  Activities relating to a site evaluation are not considered construction.

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Delegate – The executive director’s act of assigning authority to implement the OSSF program under this chapter.

Designated representative – An individual who holds a valid license issued by the executive director, and who is designated by the authorized agent to conduct site evaluations, percolation tests, system designs, and inspections.

Direct communication – The demonstrated ability of an installer and the apprentice to communicate immediately with each other in person, by telephone, or by radio.

Direct supervision – The responsibility of an installer to oversee, direct, and approve all actions of an apprentice relating to the construction of an OSSF.

Discharge – To deposit, conduct, drain, emit, throw, run, allow to seep, or otherwise release or dispose of, or to allow, permit, or suffer any of these acts or omissions.

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Extend – To alter an OSSF resulting in an increase in capacity, lengthening, or expansion of the existing treatment or disposal system.

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Floodplain (100–year) – Any area susceptible to inundation by flood waters from any source and subject to the statistical 100–year flood (has a 1% chance of flooding each year).

Floodway – The channel of a watercourse and the adjacent land areas (within a portion of the 100–year floodplain) that must be reserved in order to discharge the 100–year flood without cumulatively increasing the water surface elevation more than one foot above the 100–year flood elevation before encroachment into the 100–year floodplain.

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Geotextile filter fabric – A non–woven fabric suitable for wastewater applications.

Gravel–less drainfield pipe – An eight–inch or ten–inch diameter geotextile fabric–wrapped piping product without gravel or media.

Grease interceptor – Floatation chambers where grease floats to the water surface and is retained while the clearer water underneath is discharged.

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Holding tank – A watertight container equipped with a high–level alarm used to receive and store sewage pending its delivery to an approved treatment process.

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Individual – A single living human being.

Install – To put in place or construct any portion of an OSSF.

Installer – An individual who is compensated by another to construct an OSSF.

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License – The document issued by the executive director approving an individual to perform duties authorized under this chapter.

Local governmental entity – A municipality, county, river authority, or special district, including groundwater conservation districts, soil and water conservation districts, and public health districts.

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Maintenance – Required or routine performance checks, examinations, upkeep, cleaning, or mechanical adjustments to an OSSF, including replacement of pumps, filters, aerator lines, valves, or electrical components. Maintenance does not include alterations.

Maintenance company – A person or business that maintains OSSFs.

Maintenance findings – The results of a required performance check or component examination on a specific OSSF.

Malfunctioning OSSF – An OSSF that is causing a nuisance or is not operating in compliance with this chapter.

Manufactured housing community – Any area developed or used for lease or rental of space for two or more manufactured homes.

Multi–unit residential development – Any area developed or used for a structure or combination of structures designed to lease or rent space to house two or more families.

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Notice of approval – Written permission from the permitting authority to operate an OSSF. The notice of approval is the final part of the permit.

Nuisance – sewage, human excreta, or other organic waste discharged or exposed in a manner that makes it a potential instrument or medium in the transmission of disease to or between persons; an overflow from a septic tank or similar device, including surface discharge from or groundwater contamination by a component of an OSSF; or a blatant discharge from an OSSF.

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On–site sewage disposal system – One or more systems that: do not treat or dispose of more than 5,000 gallons of sewage each day; and are used only for disposal of sewage produced on a site where any part of the system is located.

On–site sewage facility (OSSF) – An on–site sewage disposal system.

On–site waste disposal order – An order, ordinance, or resolution adopted by a local governmental entity and approved by the executive director.

Operate – To use an OSSF.

Owner – A person who owns property served by an OSSF, or a person who owns an OSSF.  This includes any person who holds legal possession or ownership of a total or partial interest in the structure or property served by an OSSF.

Owner’s agent – An installer, professional sanitarian, or professional engineer who is authorized to submit the permit application and the planning materials to the permitting authority on behalf of the owner.

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Permit – An authorization, issued by the permitting authority, to construct or operate an OSSF.  The permit consists of the authorization to construct (including the approved planning materials) and the notice of approval.

Permitting authority – The executive director or an authorized agent.

Planning material – Plans, applications, site evaluations, and other supporting materials submitted to the permitting authority for the purpose of obtaining a permit.

Platted – The subdivision of property which has been recorded with a county or municipality in an official plat record.

Pretreatment tank – A tank placed ahead of a treatment unit that functions as an interceptor for materials such as plastics, clothing, hair, and grease that are potentially harmful to treatment unit components.

Professional engineer – An individual licensed by the Texas Board of Professional Engineers to engage in the practice of engineering in the State of Texas.

Professional sanitarian – An individual registered by the Texas Department of Health to carry out educational and inspection duties in the field of sanitation in the State of Texas.

Proprietary system – An OSSF treatment or disposal system that is produced or marketed under exclusive legal right of the manufacturer or designer or for which a patent, trade name, trademark, or copyright is used by a person or company.

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Recharge feature – Permeable geologic or manmade feature located on the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone where: a potential for hydraulic interconnectedness between the surface and the aquifer exists; and rapid infiltration from the OSSF to the subsurface may occur.

Recreational vehicle park – A single tract of land that has rental spaces for two or more vehicles that are intended for recreational use only and has a combined wastewater flow of less than 5,000 gallons per day.

Regional office – A regional office of the agency.

Repair – To replace any components of an OSSF in situations not included under emergency repairs according to §285.35 of this title (relating to Emergency Repairs), excluding maintenance.  The replacement of tanks or drainfields is considered a repair and requires a permit for the entire OSSF system.

Revocation – A formal procedure, initiated by the executive director, in which an apprentice’s, installeror designated representative's license or registration is rescinded by the commission.

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Scum – A mass of organic or inorganic matter which floats on the surface of sewage.

Secondary treatment – The process of reducing pollutants to the levels specified in Chapter 309 of this title (relating to Domestic Wastewater Effluent Limitation and Plant Siting).

Seepage pit – An unlined covered excavation in the ground which operates in essentially the same manner as a cesspool.

Septic tank – A watertight covered receptacle constructed to receive, store, and treat sewage by: separating solids from the liquid; digesting organic matter under anaerobic conditions; storing the digested solids through a period of detention; and allowing the clarified liquid to be disposed of by a method approved under Chapter 285.

Sewage – Waste that: is primarily organic and biodegradable or decomposable; and originates as human, animal, or plant waste from certain activities, including the use of toilet facilities, washing, bathing, and preparing food.

Single family dwelling – A structure that is either built on or brought to a site, for use as a residence for one family. A single family dwelling includes all detached buildings located on the residential property and routinely used only by members of the household of the single family dwelling.

Sludge – A semi–liquid mass of partially decomposed organic and inorganic matter which settles at or near the bottom of a receptacle containing sewage.

Soil – The upper layer of the surface of the earth that serves as a natural medium for the growth of plants.

Soil absorption system – A subsurface method for the treatment and disposal of sewage which relies on the soil's ability to treat and absorb moisture and allow its dispersal by lateral and vertical movement through and between individual soil particles.

Subdivision – A tract of property divided into two or more parts either by platting or field notes with metes and bounds, and transferred by deed or contract for deed.

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Well – A water well, injection well, dewatering well, monitoring well, piezometer well, observation well, or recovery well as defined under the Texas Water Code, Chapters 32 and 33, and 16 TAC Chapter 76 (relating to Water Well Drillers and Water Well Pump Installers).