Septic systems, or more currently known as on-site 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 Environmental Services Division – Pollution Control Program issues permits and conducts inspections for all new on-site 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.
BEFORE PURCHASING A PARCEL OF LAND IN AN AREA WHERE THERE IS NO PUBLIC SEWER, WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND THAT YOU HAVE A SOIL SCIENTIST AND SEPTIC DESIGNER REVIEW THE PARCEL TO ENSURE A SEPTIC SYSTEM WILL BE ABLE TO BE INSTALLED. FACTORS, INCLUDING SOIL CHARACTERISTICS, TOPOGRAPHY, AND AVAILABLE SPACE, CAN INFLUENCE IF A SYSTEM WILL WORK ON THAT PARCEL. UNFORTUNATELY, SOME PARCELS ARE NOT SUITABLE FOR ON-SITE WASTEWATER TREATMENT.
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 On-Site Sewage Systems Rule 410 IAC 6-8.3
- Indiana Department of Health Bulletin S.E. 11 for Sanitary Vault Privies
- Commercial On-Site Sewage System Rule 410 IAC 6-10.1
- ISDH Residential Sewage Disposal Section
Allen County Ordinances
- Allen County Private Sewage Disposal Ordinance
- Title 17 Article 1 Allen County On-Site Waste Water Management District Creation
- Title 17 Article 2 Allen County On-Site Wastewater Management District Fees Ordinance
- Title 17 Article 3 Allen County On-Site Wastewater Management District Provider Qualification Ordinance
Permit Applications & Resources
On-Site Sewage System Packet (New, replacement, alteration, or repair) – any document(s) indented below indicate it is part of the permit packet
- Residential On-Site Sewage System Construction Permit Application
- Commercial On-Site Sewage System Construction Permit Application
- How to Obtain a Permit Instructions
- Allen County On-Site Wastewater Management District Application
- Allen County On-Site Wastewater Management District Fee Table
- List of Soil Scientists
- List of Septic System Designers
- Recessional Moraine Soil Notice
- ISDH Recessional Moraine Protocol
- List of Certified Evaluators, Installers, and Service Providers
- Notice of Onsite Sewage System & Bedroom Affidavit Residential
- Notice of Onsite Sewage System Use Affidavit Commercial
- Application for On-Site Sewage System Abandonment Permit
- Notice for Replacing On-Site Sewage System
- IDEM-Licensed Wastewater Haulers List
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 On-Site Wastewater Management District. Benefits include regular inspections and preventative maintenance. For more information, call (260) 449-4181 or email to ACOWMD@allencounty.us
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 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.
- Operating and Maintaining an On-Site Sewage System
- Keep the “Dirty Dozen” Out of Your On-Site Sewage System (Septic Tank)
- Cleaning an On-Site Sewage System
- Soil Hydraulic Conductivity and Septic System Performance
- Swelling Clays and Septic Systems
- High Water Tables and Septic System Perimeter Drains
- Construction Guidelines for Conventional Septic Systems
Certification Study Materials
- Residential On-Site Sewage Systems Rule 410 IAC 6-8.3 (A & B Test)
- Allen County Private Sewage Disposal Ordinance (A & B Test)
- Title 17 Article 1 Allen County On-Site Waste Water Management District Creation (C Test)
- Title 17 Article 2 Allen County On-Site Wastewater Management District Fees Ordinance (C Test)
- 327 IAC 15-14 OSS Discharging Disposal Systems within ACOWMD (C Test)
- Certified Evaluator Reference Manual (D Test)
- On-Site Sewage Systems Programs (ISDH)
- On-Site Wastewater (CDC)
- Septic Systems (EPA)
- Why Maintain Your Septic System (EPA)
- What to Do If Your Septic System Fails (EPA)
- How Your Failing Septic System Affects Nearby Water Sources (EPA)
- Preparing Seasonal Septic Systems for Winter (On-Site Installer)
- How to Winterize On-Site Systems (On-Site Installer)