Purdue Residential Onsite Wastewater Disposal:  Septic system information to protect your family and the environment

Septic System Permits and Regulations

ScalesPrior to installing a septic system, your contractor must obtain a permit from your county health department. Your contractor will know how to obtain the permit, but here is an overview of the process in case you have questions you want to ask your contractor. The specific process will vary from county to county.

Overview of Permit Process

  • STEP ONE: The first step is to have a soil scientist evaluate your site to determine if the soils are suitable for a septic system.
    The soil scientist will take core samples and will mark the areas where core samples were taken. When done, the soil scientist will send a report to the county health department. Your contractor should also receive a copy.
  • STEP TWO: The county health department must make sure that your septic system will be large enough to handle current and future needs. This could save you many headaches in the future if your family grows or you sell your home to a larger family. It will also help to prevent contamination of the local surface and groundwater supplies.

  • To determine the required system size, the county health department will most likely need the following information:
    • Number of bedrooms
    • Number of bathrooms

    In the past 30 years, the U.S. population has grown 52% while the total water use has tripled. On average, Americans use approximately 75 to 80 gallons of water per person per day. Much of this water eventually returns to the water supply after having passed through a wastewater treatment facility or residential septic system.

    Percent Water Consumption Pie Chart.  Toilet flush 28%, washing machine 22%, showers 21%, faucet 12%, baths 9%, toilet leaks 5%, dishwasher 3%

    Other Requirements: Some counties require a second site for a backup septic system in case the first system fails. Some require a minimum lot acreage, such as one-half or one acre. There may be other requirements as well, such as the requirement to hook up to the sewer system should it become available in the area.

  • STEP THREE: The county health department will decide whether or not to issue a permit. Sometimes permits are issued with conditions on minimum size and other design factors. For example, a mound system may be required for some sites.

  • STEP FOUR: If a permit is issued, inspections will be required throughout the septic system installation process. These inspections will help ensure that the system is properly installed.


Indiana State Law Addressing Residential Septic Systems

Currently, the Indiana regulations are being updated by regulators on a daily basis. The Indiana State Department of Health and Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) will not disclose the revised regulations until the revisions are completed. 

Federal Law Addressing Residential Septic Systems