Septic Division

The Septic Division is responsible for licensing and inspecting residential and commercial on-site sewage disposal systems, investigating illegal discharges of sewage, and plan review of new on-site septic systems.

Whether you are building a new home, remodeling your existing home, or repairing an ailing septic system, a properly functioning septic system will increase the value of your home and benefit your neighborhood, our community, and the environment.  Proper design, installation, and maintenance of your septic system can maximize the life of the system while providing excellent wastewater treatment.   However, systems that are sited in densities that exceed the treatment capacity of regional soils, and systems that are poorly designed, installed, operated or maintained can cause problems.  Failure of the system can be foul smelling and unsightly, and possibly contaminate your well water.  The most serious documented problems involve contamination of surface waters and ground water with disease-causing pathogens and nitrates.

Contact the Septic Division of the Wells County Health Department if you are planning to build a new house, remodel your home, or repair an existing septic system.  A septic permit must be obtained before construction or remodeling begins, and must be obtained before Area Planning Commission will issue a permit to build.


Environmental Health Specialist

Wells County Health Department
223 W. Washington Street
Bluffton, IN 46714

Phone: 260-824-6491
Fax: 260-824-8803

The Indiana State Department of Health has adopted a new rule for on-site sewage disposal systems effective November 19, 2012.  Rule 410 IAC 6-8.3 is available at  The Wells County Health Department will be amending its local paperwork and ordinance to comply with the new regulations.

Sewage effluent is a concoction of many things such as pathogenic microorganisms, which are capable of causing a variety of diseases such as hepatitis, cholera, E. coli, etc., leading to illness or even death if untreated. Sewage contains inorganic chemicals, such as nitrates in, which at high levels can cause blue-baby syndrome. These contaminants are illegally discharged from homes often by means of old field tile connections and/or surface failures which finally make their way to surface and drinking water supplies of Wells County.

What do you need to know about buying a house with a septic system?

Septic systems work great when they are properly sized, constructed, and maintained. The problem arises when any one of these items doesn’t occur. If you are interested in purchasing a home with a septic system, make the effort to be a smart consumer so that you don’t purchase a home with a failing septic system. Buyers can help protect themselves by having the septic system inspected by a qualified inspector. Also keep these items in mind when looking at purchasing a home:

  • Talk with a county health inspector to learn whether there is any information on record for the septic system.
  • Check for visible signs of discharge from the system (including running wastewater, blackened soil or unusually green grass) or any sign of a sewer smell in the area of the system
  • Ask the seller about the regular maintenance that was done on the septic system. When was the septic tank last cleaned and inspected? The septic tank should be cleaned every 3 to 5 years. If the system has not been maintained, it might not be a bad idea to hire a reputable pumper to clean and inspect the septic tank before closing on a house.
  • Educate yourself on how to use and maintain a septic system. This is the number one way to prevent a costly repair or replacement of the septic system.

Septic System Maintenance

If you own a septic system, it is important that it be properly maintained. How often you need to pump the solids out of your septic tank depends on three major factors:

  1. the number of people in your household;
  2. the amount of wastewater generated (based on the number of people in the household and the amount of water used); and
  3. the volume of solids in the wastewater (e.g., using a garbage disposal will increase the amount of solids).

Although your septic tank absorption field generally does not require maintenance, you should adhere to the following rules to protect and prolong its functional life:

  1. Do not drive over the absorption field with cars, trucks, or heavy equipment.
  2. Do not plant trees or shrubbery in the absorption field area, because the roots can get into the lines and plug them.
  3. Do not cover the absorption field with hard surfaces, such as concrete or asphalt. Grass is the best cover, because it will help prevent erosion and help remove excess water.
  4. Do divert surface runoff water from roofs, patios, driveways, and other areas away from the absorption field.

Homeowners wanting to take good care of their septic systems should make note of the following items that should never be flushed down the drain or toilet. These items can overtax or destroy the biological digestion taking place within the system or clog pumps and pipes.

Wells County Regional Sewer District Information

Take care not to flush the following:

  • hair combings
  • coffee grounds
  • dental floss
  • disposable diapers
  • kitty litter
  • sanitary napkins
  • tampons
  • cigarette butts
  • condoms
  • gauze bandages
  • fat, grease, or oil
  • paper towels

NEVER flush chemicals that could contaminate surface and groundwater, such as:

  • paints
  • varnishes
  • thinners
  • waste oils
  • photographic solutions
  • pesticides