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Indiana Department of Environmental Management

IDEM > Permitting > Water Permits > Wastewater Permits > Operational Permit for Alternative Public Wastewater Treatment Systems Operational Permit for Alternative Public Wastewater Treatment Systems

Currently, IDEM is working on alternative systems for small communities. State rules and statutes require ISDH to permit on-site subsurface discharging systems for residential and commercial developments. IDEM is required to permit on-site subsurface discharging systems systems proposed by public entities. At this time, IDEM does not have specific rules governing alternative systems. Therefore, IDEM and ISDH are working together to arrive at comparable standards and approaches for alternative private and public systems. These may be implemented through existing authorities and policy or by rule change. Discussions involve:

  • Application requirements,
  • Criteria used to evaluate proposed systems,
  • Operation and maintenance requirements, and
  • Monitoring requirements.

IDEM will develop a comprehensive state-level strategy for the long-term, environmentally-sound and cost-effective treatment of rural wastewater. Such a strategy would:

  • Support a menu of treatment options, including traditional septics, alternative onsite systems and centralized wastewater treatment, to address existing system failures and new development, and
  • Support thoughtful long-term, environmentally-sound and cost-effective decisions about wastewater treatment at the local level that support community goals.

The problems for rural and small communities

  • ~ 800,000 households utilize a septic system
  • ~ 15,000 on-site wastewater disposal permits are approved annually
  • County sanitarians estimate failure rates as high as 70 percent
  • ~ 200,000 systems are operating inadequately

C. Taylor, J. Yahner, and D. Jones. 1997. An evaluation of onsite technology in Indiana. Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.

Severe Limitations for Traditional Septic Systems by County

(Percentage Based on NRCS Criteria)

Higher percentage, the greater risk of failure