A permit from the Health Department is required to install, replace, or repair a septic system in St. Joseph County. On-site septic systems must be properly designed, installed and maintained in order to protect groundwater, surface water, and the health of St. Joseph County residents. The Health Department also investigates complaints regarding failed septic systems, and improper installation and maintenance of systems.

To apply for a septic permit, a permit application, permit fee, and soil report from a certified soil scientist must be submitted to the Health Department. The permit and soil report are reviewed and minimum design specifications are issued by the Health Department. The applicant will then provide the specifications to a licensed septic installer to design the system. The applicant then takes the minimum design specifications to registered septic contractors to get bids for the installation. The selected contractor will then submit a design to the Health Department for review and approval. The Health Department reviews the design and conducts an on-site inspection. Deficient designs are returned to the septic contractor for revision. After the review design review and on-site inspection meet all requirements, the Health Department prepares site-specific approval requirements and issues the permit.

After the system is installed according to the issued permit and all State and County requirements, the septic contractor calls the Health Department to arrange a final inspection. Contractors must call the Health Department 24 hours in advance from the desired final inspection time. The system may be used after the Health Department passes the final inspection.

For information regarding the installation of commercial septic systems, click here.

For further information on the septic permitting process or concerns about septic systems in general, please contact the Health Department at (574) 235-9721.

Septic Installers and Inspectors

All septic contractors that install, replace, repair, or inspect septic systems are required to be registered with St. Joseph County. Please contact the Health Department for a current list of registered contractors.

For contractor registration requirements, please click here.

A septic system is a privately maintained small-scale wastewater treatment plant. The owner of a private septic system must have a good understanding of their system in order to maximize the life span and treatment capabilities. A septic system that is improperly maintained could cost a homeowner thousands of dollars and could also contaminate the surrounding drinking water. The video and links provided below will help you understand how a septic system works.