Converting Septic Systems to Sewer Connections

Most developed properties in Portland are connected to the public sewer system, but some properties still use private septic systems. Learn more about when septic systems are allowed and when properties on septic might be required to connect to the City sewer.

As a septic system ages, its chance of failing and releasing untreated sewage into the environment increases. Septic system failures can cause a public health hazard and contaminate properties and water resources.

Environmental Services’ goal is to provide all residential, commercial, and industrial customers access to the public sewer.  Sometimes Environmental Services extends service to multiple residential properties on septic. This brings reliable sewer service to properties before their septic systems fail.

Learn about construction projects that may bring sewer service to your property.

In other cases, a developed property on septic may have a public sewer immediately available within a public right-of-way or easement. In this scenario, the property owner may be required to connect to the sewer. See the Mandatory Sewer Connections page for more information about what to do if this applies to your property.

If sewer service is immediately available, but you haven’t received a notice, then you won’t be required to connect until your septic system fails. Please note that if the property is on a cesspool or septic tank to seepage pits, the property may not increase its daily projected sewage flow by adding a bedroom or accessory dwelling unit (ADU).

If a developed property on septic has no available public sewer connection and the City has no immediate plans to extend the sewer, property owners should contact the Bureau of Development Services. A septic permit may be required to do work on your system. If a property owner must connect to the sewer system because a septic permit cannot be approved, or for the development of the property, it must be reviewed by the City through a public works permit.