Information and FAQs
Information regarding sewer districts, wastewater treatment options and home owner responsibility can be found here. Select one of the topics below to find more detailed information.
What is a Sewer District?
A regional district is a form of local government that provides drinking water, sewers, and solid waste management (trash removal) for homes and businesses within an established service area. The requirements for creating new districts are found in the Indiana Code at IC 13-26. Decisions about forming new districts are made at the local level. IDEM’s role is to ensure districts are formed according to the legal and technical requirements specified in IC 13-26. The formation process begins when IDEM receives a formal petition. All interested parties are encouraged to review pending petitions and participate in the review process.
Septic Systems in Indiana
There are tens of thousands of individual onsite septic systems throughout the state of Indiana that are failing, illegal or have been cited as failed. These systems present a public health and environmental hazard as they often discharge untreated wastewater directly into waterways and can contaminate nearby wells. Key Points on Septic Systems:
- Septic systems are only a temporary solution
- Septic systems can last 30-40 years if properly maintained.
- Discharging pollutants and contaminants into the Earth is an antiquated notion.
- The presence of a septic system may detract from the resale ability of your home.
Conventional Gravity Systems
The more frequent, and more preferred method of providing sanitary sewer service to a home or business is a system of underground pipes leading away from the facility (downhill by gravity). Once the sewage reaches the public sewer system in the nearby streets, roadways or sometimes a dedicated easement, the sewage will then continue toward a treatment facility. The provision of sewer service does not need any pumping or other equipment by the property owner and is low in operational and maintenance costs over the life of the system.
Low Pressure Collection Systems with Grinder Pump Stations
In some situations, due to terrain or topography, a home of business can not send their sewage to the public sewer system without the help of pumping equipment and pressurized piping. These homes or businesses are located downhill or at an elevation lower than the nearby public sewer system. In these instances, an underground grinder pump station is located nearby that takes sewage from the facility and pumps it up to the public sewer system. Once the sewage reaches the public sewer system in the nearby streets, roadways or sometimes a dedicated easement, the sewage will continue toward a treatment facility. Sewer service for these homes or businesses require the extra pumping equipment and small diameter pressurized pipelines in order to work successfully and requires electricity and regular maintenance over the life of the system.
Collaboration with Treatment Providers
In general, it is most cost-effective for us and the sewer districts we represent to collaborate with an existing treatment provider in a nearby city or town. Building a new wastewater treatment facility for the treatment of sewage is extremely expensive. In general, we will collaborate with and connect sanitary sewer infrastructure to a nearby treatment provider. Your monthly bill will include a component for the capital cost of the new sewer in addition to the charge from the treatment provider.
Timeline for Sewers
Sanitary sewer or water projects do not move quickly. Most are initiated by either a Department of Health citation or a petition from homeowners to a sewer district with interest in extending sanitary sewer service to the area. Either of these events will trigger research of the area followed by an informational meeting with the residents. The following are the process steps.
- Informational Meeting – petition for cost study
- Preliminary engineering cost study of the area
- Meeting 2 – presentation of cost study – survey (vote)
- If project is approved: Project Design and bidding
- Construction Phase
- Connection to Sewer and decommissioning of septics
The entire process from initiation to connection to the sewer takes no less than 18 months and often closer to 24 months.
When construction of the new sanitary sewer is complete, a notice to connect will be issued to all homeowners who are part of the project. There are some actions that must be taken by homeowners in order to connect to the sanitary sewer. The cost of these initial connection requirements are outside of the scope of the project infrastructure costs and are the responsibility of each homeowner.
Sewer Lateral From Home to Sewer
A lateral sewer line must be run from the home discharge point to the new sanitary sewer. This means a trench must be dug and sanitary sewer connection to either the gravity line at the street or to the grinder pump station must be made. The cost of this sewer lateral will vary based on the distance of the home connection to the sewer.
Decommissioning of Existing Septic Tank
After connection to the new sanitary sewer is made, the old septic tank must be decommissioned so it does not present a health or safety hazard. This decommissioning includes having it pumped empty and then filled with sand or gravel and the lid crushed. The final step in this decommissioning process is to have the County Department of Health inspection completed and verified. There is a fee associated with this inspection that will vary by county but is usually around $75.00 per inspection.
Electrical Service Connection
Electrical service connection applies only to pressurized systems with grinder pump station installations. The grinder pump stations have a control panel with indicator light that requires electrical connection to function. You will need to have a licensed electrician run an electrical connection from your breaker to the control panel using the line that was dug for the lateral line. This does not apply to gravity systems.
Permits, Inspections, and Fees
You will need to pay the County Department of Health to inspect your decommissioned septic tank. Additionally, once the connection is complete, you will need to have an inspection of the entire connection completed by the sewer district, which will finalize your connection. Some sewer districts and treatment providers will assess a connection fee – this will vary significantly by project area and sewer district.