Septic wastewater comes from domestic septic tanks, holding tanks, privies, seepage pits, cesspools, compost toilets, portable sanitary units, and restaurant traps and interceptors for animal and vegetable grease. To prevent threats to human health or the environment, septage must be managed according to laws in the Indiana Code (IC 13-18-12) and rules in the Indiana Administrative Code (327 IAC 7.1 [PDF]).
IDEM oversees the requirements for the removal, transport, storage, treatment, and disposal of septage from sewage disposal systems. Persons who remove septage from sewage disposal systems and transport, store, treat, and/or dispose of septage (including land application) must obtain a septage management permit from IDEM before they begin operations. They also must comply with other applicable requirements in 327 IAC 7.1.
Septage may be transported to, and discharged into, permitted wastewater treatment plants or storage/treatment facilities designed to store/treat domestic septage and restaurant grease from traps or interceptors. Treated septage may be land applied on agricultural fields as a soil amendment and fertilizer at controlled rates.
Requirements for Homeowners, Recreational Boaters, and Marinas
Homeowners who clean and service their own residential sewage disposal systems are exempt from requirements to obtain a permit, but transport and disposal of septage, including land application, must be done in accordance with the law. Guidance on Land Application of Septage for Homeowners [PDF] is available from IDEM.
Recreational boaters with on-board toilets and wastewater holding tanks (i.e., marine sanitation devices) and marina owners/operators with marine pumpouts, dump stations, and/or floating restrooms must properly dispose of septage. The contents of Type III marine sanitation devices may not be land applied. Guidance for boaters and information on Clean Vessel Act grants and sewage management practices for marina owners/operators is available on IDEM’s Partnerships and Recognition Programs portal.
Activities that are excluded from regulation under 327 IAC 7.1 are identified in 327 IAC 7.1-1-3 [PDF].
IDEM issues three types of septage permits:
- Septage management business permit
- Septage storage/treatment facility permit (required for each unit)
- Septage land application site permit (required for each site)
Applicable permits are issued in one permit document, which is valid for 3 years unless IDEM establishes an alternate length (327 IAC 7.1-8-3). Applicants are not required to give public notice. IDEM issues septage permits within 90 days of receiving a complete application. If land application is involved, the agency has 180 days for processing. Septage permits are nontransferable. Renewal applications must be submitted prior to the expiration date of the existing permit.
Septage Management Business Permit
Persons who wish to remove, transport, store, treat, or dispose of septage must submit to IDEM an Application for Septage Management Business Permit (State Form 50399, available on the IDEM Forms page). There is no application fee. Permittees must:
- Follow operational requirements in 327 IAC 7.1 [PDF], as summarized in IDEM’s Requirements for Septage Handlers [PDF] guidance document.
- Not advertise or engage in septage management activities without a permit.
- Only use the business name on the permit in advertising.
Septage Storage/Treatment Facility Permit
Persons who wish to construct and/or operate storage and/or treatment facilities for septage must submit to IDEM an Application for a Wastewater (Septage) Management Storage/Treatment Facility Permit (State Form 50402, available on the IDEM Forms page) at least 90 days prior to the date that construction is proposed to start. New facilities must also submit the Application for Septage Management Business Permit (State Form 50399). For existing facilities, the current septage management permit will be modified. There is no application fee. The application must include:
- Plans and specifications certified by a registered engineer licensed to practice in Indiana.
- A statement signed by the property owner granting permission and stating that the facility is not prohibited by any covenant of record.
- The appropriate maps and drawings required by the application.
Septage Land Application Site Permit
Persons who wish to land apply septage must submit to IDEM an Application for a Wastewater (Septage) Management Land Application Site Permit (State Form 50403, available on the IDEM Forms page) for EACH land application site at least 180 days prior to the intended date of use. Each application must include:
- A statement signed by the property owner granting permission to land apply septage on their property, acknowledging crop and use limitations, and stating that land application is not prohibited by any covenant of record.
- A county map showing the property location and proposed septage application site.
- A soil survey map classifying the soils and their permeability within the proposed site and specifying the site's suitability for septage disposal.
- An accurate drawing that indicates all required features of interest.
- An application fee of $30.00 per site per year.
Guidance on Land Application of Septage [PDF] is available from IDEM.
Persons with land application site permits must complete and submit to IDEM a Septage Land Application Quarterly Report (State Form 50397, available on the IDEM Forms page) for each approved site by the end of the month following each quarter. For example, the second quarter report is due by the end of July. Permittees can submit their report(s):
- By U.S. mail to the address on the form
- By fax to the Office of Land Quality’s permits fax number
- By email to the Septage Permitting and Reporting staff (available on the IDEM Regional Staff and Inspectors page)
If certain land application sites are not used during a quarter, permittees must identify those sites (include the site identification number) in a cover letter, fax, or email to IDEM in lieu of submitting a report for each unused site.
Please contact the septage permitting and reporting staff listed on the IDEM Regional Staff and Inspectors page for assistance or to schedule a pre- or post-application meeting to discuss land application and/or septage regulations.