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Engineering Department

Review & Approval

Contact Tammy Ellmore at with any questions you may have regarding Engineering. This department will be checking for any of the following areas:

  • Grading
  • Percolation Test Review
  • Septic Systems
  • Addresses
  • Flooding & Drainage Issues
  • Legal Access
  • Retaining Walls
  • Oversized Transportation
  • Capital Projects – Public Works
  • Grading Application
Engineering tools



  1. An excavation is greater than two feet in depth or an excavation creates a cut slope from two feet to five feet in height with a slope steeper than one and one-half horizontal to one vertical or an excavation creates a cut slope greater than five feet in height.
  2. Fill of ONE foot or more in thickness.  A three-foot fill may be placed without a permit if it does not exceed fifty cubic yards, does not obstruct a drainage course and is not intended to support a structure.
  1. A fill less than one foot in thickness is placed on natural terrain steeper than five horizontal to one vertical.

NOTE:  The permit shall be obtained before the grading is commenced.  If the grading is done without a permit, twice the normal permit fee shall be charged.

Percolation Testing & Sewage Disposal:

If a lot proposed for development does not have City sewer service available within 200 feet of the property, the City will consider on-site disposal.  There is a minimum lot size requirement for on-site disposal.  The OWNER should verify the most recently adopted minimum lot size with the City Planning and Zoning department to determine if on-site disposal is a feasible option.


If the minimum lot size requirement is met the City requires successful percolation test results prior to approving an on-site disposal system.  A report must be submitted to the City Engineer that documents the testing procedures, results and proposed system.  The purpose of the testing is to ensure that groundwater supplies (the source of public drinking water in Needles) and the recreational activities on the Colorado River are protected.

Drafting tools

The City follows the standards and requirements of the San Bernardino Department of Public Health for percolation reports.  These standards and requirements are outlined in the publication entitled “On-Site WasteWater Disposal System.”  This publication is available on-line

In addition to the requirements outlined in the “On-Site Waste Water Disposal System” the City requires that:

  • The City Engineer be notified of the scheduled percolation test at least two working days prior to.
  • Upon submittal of the percolation test report the OWNER should allow at least 5 business days for the City Engineer to review the report.
  • A building permit will not be issued until the City Engineer has approved the percolation test report and a Septic System design has been recommended.
  • A Septic Permit charge will be added to your building permit application.  At the time that a septic system is being installed, an inspection of the tank and leach field will be required.  You can call the inspection phone number to arrange this inspection.

Flood Control:

If your property is within a flood zone you will need to have an California Registered Land Surveyor prepare a Elevation Certificate and design a Finish Floor Elevation for your new structure.


We will look at and assign an address to your property.  At the beginning of your project we will let the following agencies know of the address addition: Utility Companies, County Assessor, 911 & Post Office once a Notice of Completion is issued.  If you need a property address for starting loan applications, contact the engineering department and we can assign a street number to your parcel.

Legal Access:

If your parcel is in the rural areas of Needles and you don’t have a public street adjoining your property, you may be land locked.  You would be required to find out how you could get ingress / egress easement to cross over another property(ies) to reach a public street.  If this ingress / egress exists you would have it noted in a title report when purchasing your property.  You would be required to have this secured by a survey and legal description prepared by a licensed surveyor in California.  This would be recorded with your property.

Launch Ramps & Docks on the River:

If you have interest in having one of these on you property then you must apply to the Army Corp. of Engineers as a separate application, City jurisdiction stops at the high water mark.  Even though the City’s jurisdiction stops at the high water mark the Army Corps of Engineers require at CEQA be done on all launch ramps.  See the planning department for this process.

The Army Corps of Engineers can be reached by phone at (520) 584-1684 or by writing to 5205 E. Comanche St., Tucson, AZ 85707.  You can contact them for application and fees.

These services include storm water drainage, engineering services for public development.

Main areas of responsibility include:

  • Management of design and construction of major street improvement projects
  • Review of public improvement plans
  • Management & Inspection of all Capital Improvement Projects
  • Bond release
  • Storm Water management and NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System)
  • Encroachment Permit processing
  • Parcel & Tract Map Review
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