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This section includes Basic steps for filing a petition, example petition and flowchart.
These steps and timelines are not to be solely relied upon but merely to aid the community in understanding the process as completed by one district. Every district is different; therefore, steps and timeline will vary for each district.
Be sure that you have completed or have nearly completed the planning process. As a reminder, the planning process includes, but is not limited to the following steps:
Remember it does not cost anything to file the petition with IDEM. There is a cost to having a PER written, and there may be costs associated with the petition review by an attorney.
There are certain requirements which must be completed and attached to a petition. Included below are the documents necessary to file a complete petition. Two petition examples have been provided within this section of the guide. One is for a county-wide district and the other is for a specific region. The petitions can be used to examine how the requirements fit together with the technical statutory checklist.
Some questions to ask when reviewing a preliminary engineering report:
Following is the statutory checklist for formation of a district. The checklist can be used to ensure the petition meets all the requirements of the statute. The Indiana Code being referenced is in brackets after the requirement.
The term eligible entity is defined in IC 13-26-2-2 (a):
The term fiscal body is defined as [IC 13-26-2-2 (a)]:
Here are two examples of petitions [PDF]. One is for a county-wide regional district; one is for a regional district.
After you file your petition, it will be processed as in the petition flowchart [PDF].
Two important steps in the formation of a district are the notice of public hearing and notice of formation decision. Here are examples of notices generated by IDEM.
Note: the purpose of these sample notices is to provide assistance to small and medium sized rural communities for water, wastewater, and solid waste services. This notice is merely to aid the community in understanding the process and the documentation typically issued by IDEM.
After the petition has been filed with IDEM and the notice of formation decision has been issued by IDEM, the district is formed. A district is a regulated entity and subject to all rules and regulations as set forth in state statute. Your district should expect inspectors to visit periodically to ensure compliance with your NPDES permit and other environmental statutes. Inspectors may perform compliance sampling to test for certain substances and chemical elements. Their main goal is to ensure all substances are at acceptable levels.
IDEM issues National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. An entity must apply for an NPDES permit if flow will be discharged into the waters of the State. Once a permit is granted, the entity will have to pay fees related to discharge and monitoring requirements.
IDEM issues these permits from its Office of Water Quality. A description of NPDES permits from the IDEM Web site follows:
"The purpose of the NPDES permit is to control the point source discharge of pollutants into the waters of the State such that the quality of the water of the State is maintained in accordance with the standards contained in 327 IAC 2. The NPDES permit requirements must ensure that, at a minimum, any new or existing point source must comply with technology-based treatment requirements that are contained in 327 IAC 5-5-2. According to 327 IAC 5-2-2, Any discharge of pollutants into waters of the State as a point source discharge, except for exclusions made in 327 IAC 5-2-4, is prohibited unless in conformity with a valid NPDES permit obtained prior to discharge. This is the most basic principal of the NPDES permit program.
"The majority of NPDES permits have existed since 1974. This means that most of the permit writing is for permit renewals. Approximately 10% of each year's workload is attributed to new permits, modifications and requests for estimated limits. NPDES permits are designed to be re-issued every five years but are administratively extended in full force and effect indefinitely if the permittee applied for a renewal before the current permit expires.
"U.S. EPA, Region 5, has oversight authority for the NPDES permits program. Under terms of the memorandum of agreement, Region 5 has the right to comment on all draft Major discharger permits."
Major and minor treatment facilities are measured by the amount of their flow. A major municipal treatment facility releases over a million gallons a day. A minor municipal treatment facility releases any amount less than that.
To apply for a NPDES permit, the district should fill out the application. Note: the district engineer or certified operator is usually in charge of applying for the NPDES permit. The application (Stafe Form 50103) includes a fifty dollar fee. It is available on the IDEM Forms page.
Once you apply, if it is a minor permit, you will be contacted by IDEM within 180 days. If it is a major permit, you will be contacted by IDEM within 270 days.
It is important to note that once you receive a permit, you will be billed at an amount which varies by flow. However, even if you have no flow, a base fee will still be assessed.
Once your wastewater district has a NPDES permit, the district must file a monthly report of operations and a discharge monitoring report in the case of a wastewater utility. Once your water district has a water permit, a monthly report of operations must be filed. These reports vary by size, and treatment type, and contain analytical descriptions of what is occurring within the utility system and how those descriptions relate to permit parameters that have been set by the regulatory agencies. In addition, water districts are also required to file Consumer Confidence Reports (CCR).
All of the most up-to-date NPDES fee information can be found by calling the office number on the contact list at which your district applied or on IDEM's Web site.
A basic description of the NPDES billing and fee structure is provided below.
To prepare for the district's water or wastewater inspection, use the U.S. EPA's Sanitary Records Review Checklist [PDF]. A district could also use the RCAP Sanitary Survey Self-Assessment [PDF] for wastewater to ensure they are prepared internally.
An IDEM inspector will periodically inspect operations and documentation. In addition, State Board of Accounts (SBOA), will perform a financial audit once every two years. However, both IDEM and SBOA may visit more often if needed. For more details about the SBOA, please see the section entitled Planning the Financial Administration of Your District.
During the course of this process, the district may wish to seek the assistance of trade organizations, associations, and agencies. They are available to offer assistance and guidance throughout the process; but district responsibility remains with the district. Organizations and associations can assist your district in start-up, counsel the district, and train the district in capacity development or help the district find materials. The capacity development section of this guide details more specifically what capacity development is and what resources are available.
Capacity development will continue to be an important consideration for the utility. Your district should, at the very least, operate at the levels needed and complete a capacity development assessment biannually or as major changes occur. The district will also need to assess and care for its finances, establish a capital improvement fund, and revise rates, as necessary.
Your board will need to regulate the district and ensure that monies are being collected, rates are updated, repairs are funded and are being completed, and the operator is certified and keeping the plant safe.
Associations such as the Alliance of Indiana Rural Water, Indiana Rural Water Association and the American Water Works Association provide water and wastewater requirement updates and also provide training opportunities for operators. The district board should have a basic understanding of operator requirements and plant operations, so that the district can ensure the operator is doing his or her job properly. To contact them, please see the association list.