Septic systems, or more currently known as onsite sewage systems, provide a safe alternative for disposing of household wastewater from showers, sinks, toilets and washing machines when municipal sewer service is not available.
When working properly, a septic system treats the harmful bacteria found in wastewater and disperses it safely within the soil of your yard. If not functioning properly, a septic system can pose significant health risks to people, pets and the environment by discharging untreated sewage onto neighboring yards or nearby creeks or ditches.
Backyard seepage, toilets that won’t flush, bathtubs that won’t drain, and illnesses from contaminated drinking water are a few of the problems related to these failures, not to mention the frustration of high repair or replacement costs.
The Department of Health’s Pollution Control division issues permits and conducts inspections for all new onsite sewage disposal systems (also known as septic systems) as well as repairs to existing systems in Allen County. Sites are also evaluated to determine suitability for installation of septic systems.
Below you will find information on state and local regulations, permit applications, information on septic system maintenance and other helpful resources.
For more information or to report a concern with a septic system, call us at (260) 449-7530.
State of Indiana Regulations
- Residential Onsite Sewage Systems Rule 410 IAC 6-8.3
- Commercial Onsite Sewage System Rule 410 IAC 6-10.1
- ISDH Residential Sewage Disposal Section
Allen County Ordinances
- Allen County Private Sewage Disposal Ordinance
- Allen County Onsite Wastewater Management District Fees Ordinance (Effective Dec. 2017)
- Allen County Onsite Wastewater Management District Provider Qualification Ordinance
Permit Applications & Resources
- Onsite Sewage System Permit Packet (new, replacement, alteration, or repair) – any document(s) indented below indicate it is part of the permit packet
- Residential Septic Construction Permit Application
- Commercial Septic Construction Permit Application
- How to Obtain a Permit Instructions
- Allen County Onsite Wastewater Management District Operating Permit Application
- Allen County Onsite Wastewater Management District Fee Table
- List of Onsite Sewage System Designers
- List of Certified Installers and Evaluators
- List of Soil Consultants
- Moraine Notice
- ISDH Soil Moraine Protocol
- Notice of Onsite Sewage System Bedroom Affidavit
- Application for Abandonment Permit for Onsite Sewage System
- List of Licensed Wastewater Haulers
Signs of a Failing Septic System
Homeowners may mistakenly believe their septic systems are working properly so long as the toilets flush properly and there is no smell in the yard or adjacent ditches. However, septic systems can fail in other, less obvious ways, so it’s important to recognize the common signs of septic system failures.
Those signs include:
- Slowly draining sinks and toilets
- Gurgling sounds in the plumbing
- Plumbing backups
- Sewage odors in the house or yard
- Grounds is wet or mushy above your septic system’s absorption field
- Grass is greener or grows faster above your absorption field
- Tests show the presence of bacteria in nearby streams or well
Tips for Maintaining Your Septic System
To extend the life of your septic system, it’s important to practice the following maintenance steps:
- Have your septic tank pumped regularly. Over time, sludge and scum can build up in a tank. Make sure to clean the tank every 3 years, including the effluent filter.
- Monitor water usage. Excessive water use can overload the system. Install a water meter to monitor usage and do not do all the washing or laundry at one time
- Be careful about what goes down the drain. Avoid flushing any objects or substances that do not easily decompose. Do not use “septic tank additives” as they may do more harm than good.
- Protect the system. Do not drive or park heavy equipment over the absorption field or plant trees or shrubs within it.
- Join the Allen County Onsite Wastewater Management District. Benefits include regular inspections and preventative maintenance. For more information, call (260) 449-4181 or email to ACOWMD@allencounty.us
- Inquire Before You are a Buyer Brochure (DOH)
- So You Own a Septic System: A Maintenance Guide for Homewowners (DOH)
Below is a educational video that shows homeowners what a septic system is, what it does, and how to prevent any potential problems through proper maintenance.
For a single copy of the video, please send your request and a check for $7 made out to the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health, 200 E. Berry St., Suite 360, Fort Wayne, IN 46802.
For multiple copies of the video, please contact ACOWMD@allencounty.us or call (260) 449-4181 for pricing information.
From the Purdue Extension Office
The Purdue Extension Service has published a number of information sheets on septic system maintenance.
- Obtaining a Septic System Permit
- Indiana Soils and Septic Systems
- Septic System Failure
- Increasing the Longevity of Your Septic System
- Turgfrass Color: Indicator of Septic System Performance
- Septic System Distribution Boxes: Importance of Equal Distribution in Trenches
- Septic Tanks: The Primary Treatment Device of Your Septic System
- Water Use and Septic System Performance
- Grandfathered Septic Systems: Location and Replacement/Repair
- Gravel and Gravel-less Trench Soil Absorption Fields
- Seasonally High Water Tables and Septic Systems
- Septic System Additives