What is a regional district?
A regional district is a form of government that functions solely to handle drinking water, solid waste (trash), or wastewater infrastructure needs. A district may combine any of these purposes.
Who makes the formal request to form a district?
A governmental entity such as a County Commissioner, Council or Township Trustee makes the formal request.
Why should formation of a regional district be considered?
In an area without public drinking water, trash, or sewers, forming a regional district is a way to provide these services to citizens.
Can I be involved in the process?
Yes. Usually a committee is formed within the community to collect information and document the need for the service the area is seeking. Inform your local officials that you wish to be a part of the committee. Also, attend any public meetings as well as the public hearings that are held during the formation process.
What if I don't agree with the formation of a regional district - what is the time period that a taxpayer has to voice their concerns about the district?
You may appeal formation of the district only during and within thirty (30) days of signing of the Recommended Order (RO). The decision, described in the "Notice of Decision", may be administratively appealed. Filing an appeal is formally known as filing a "Petition of Administrative Review" to request an "administrative hearing". Filing an appeal is a legal proceeding.
How do I know if I am to be included in the area to be managed by a district?
When a petition is submitted to IDEM, a description of the boundaries of the requested district must be included. At that time you may view the petition at the local library. The IDEM Hearing Officer makes publication of notice in local newspapers in the affected county. If you are still not sure if you are located within the proposed boundaries, contact your local officials (e.g. County Commissioner, etc.).
Can a regional district begin charging me for service before completing my connection?
Yes. A regional district may bill and collect rates and charges for the services to be provided after the contract for construction has been awarded and actual work has started.
What if I wish to be included in the area?
If you are interested in inclusion in the district, you should contact your County officials.
What if my septic system works fine or if I want to keep my private well and not hook up to the system?
- Contact the Regional Sewer District Board (see also Indiana Code IC 13-26-5-2.5).
- Talk to your local health department. There may be other alternatives in the statute if your septic system is new enough and has been recently certified.
- A regional district has the authority to require or waive sewer connection. These decisions are made locally by the regional district board and are on a case-by-case basis. However if everyone in the service area connects at the same time, it can help control the cost of the project.
- For drinking water - if your well is not threatened by contamination and is far enough away from potential contaminants, the regional district board cannot require that you connect. More information is available on the Wellhead Protection Program page.
How does a regional district determine our sewer and water rates?
Proposed rates are presented in the petition for formation. Once formed, regional districts are bodies of government with the direct authority to make decisions on sewer construction or repair, connection requirements, financing, user rates and fees. For more information on rate regulation and how to express your opinion and file a complaint regarding rates, please see the Resources section.
Will there be a connection fee?
A regional district has the authority to determine whether or not to charge a connection fee and how much it will be.
Who is accountable for the fees and charges collected by the district?
Generally, each regional district goes through an audit by the Indiana State Board of Accounts (SBOA) every two years. The SBOA has the right to hold an audit or inspection more frequently if needed. Indiana Code 5-11-1-2 dictates a biennial audit while other circumstances prescribed through the Indiana Code may merit additional audits. These audits are available for inspection by the public pursuant to a public records request.
I have vacant land within the regional district boundary. Can I be charged for service?
The regional district board may design a water or sewage project to extend to, and benefit, every lot, parcel of land or building in the service area. If this approach is taken, everyone who is extended service may be charged the user rate.
What are the advantages to taxpayers in forming a regional district?
Regional Districts cannot charge a tax. They are supported by user fees. Usually if water and/or sewers are available your property values increase.
Are there any public funds available to assist with project costs?
Yes there are. State and federal loan and grant programs include:
- The Indiana State Revolving Fund low-interest loan program
- U.S. Department of Agriculture - Indiana Rural Development loan and grant programs
- The Indiana Community Focus Fund grant program
For more funding resources please see the Financial Resources section of this guide.
Who applies for the public funds?
The regional district has the authority to apply for public funds. In some cases, the county will start the funding process then turn it over to the district once formed.
What is the state's process for forming a regional district?
The formation process is briefly explained here. You will find additional information in the section entitled Forming a Regional District.
The process starts when a "fiscal body" of local government in the area of the proposed district submits a petition, or formal request, to IDEM. IDEM only responds to a petition from a governmental entity. IDEM does not initiate the action, but is legally required to respond to a request for action via an appropriately filed petition.
- "Fiscal bodies" of local government must be political subdivisions, which include incorporated counties, townships, cities, towns or conservancy districts.
- The petition addresses a number of issues including the purpose of forming the district, the territory to be served, the public benefits, how the district board may be structured, estimates for project costs, potential rates and charges, and funding sources.
- After reviewing the petition, IDEM will hold a public hearing.
- Citizens in the proposed service area may comment to IDEM about the proposed district in writing or at the public hearing.
- IDEM will work to address citizen concerns and questions.
- After thoroughly reviewing the petition and citizen comments, IDEM's Commissioner will determine whether or not to sign an order forming the regional district.
- If IDEM signs an order, it will publish a notice of decision in your local newspaper and mail a notice to any citizen(s) who have requested it in writing. IDEM will also post this information on its Web site.
What if I don't agree with the formation of a regional district?
If you receive notice from IDEM that it has ordered a district's formation, you have thirty (30) days to file an appeal. IDEM'S notice will include instructions about how to remonstrate.
Are regional districts subject to jurisdiction of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission?
No, most regional districts are not. However, campgrounds are subject to Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) regulation. An owner or operator of a campground can file a complaint with IURC. For more information on this issue, please see the section entitled Resources or contact your local health and planning departments.
Will the Regional District maintain contact with local health and planning departments?
They should. The district should stay in contact with the planning department. When new building construction is close to the district, the district and planning department can discuss inclusion in the district. In addition, it is recommended that the district stay in regular contact with the local health department. If a property is or will be within three-hundred (300) feet of the district boundaries and is not yet connected, the health department and district should discuss permit issuance.
For more information:
- Call the Regional District Coordinator of IDEM's Office of Water Quality about district formation at: (800) 451-6027.
- Associations such as the Indiana Regional Sewer District Association, Alliance of Indiana Rural Water, Indiana Rural Water Association or Rural Community Assistance Program can be of help. Other current RSDs or RWDs are also a great resource. Contact information is in the association list located elsewhere in this Guide.
- The Indiana statute for regional districts can be found in Indiana Code (IC) 13-26.
- Indiana statutes for appealing the petition to form a regional district are found at Indiana Code (IC) 4-21.5-5-3, and Indiana Code (IC 4-21.5-5-7). The Indiana State Web site with the entire code is available online.
- The Indiana statute for sewer rates can be found at Indiana Code (IC) 13-26-11.