High-density residential communities where land use ratios exceed 3 or 4 units per acre produce and discharge far more wastewater to the environment than many of us realize.
The Kosciusko County standard for a building site without sanitary sewer is 20,000 sq. ft.. This is required to make space for the home, garage, driveway, sidewalks, patio/deck, storage shed/building, initial septic system, replacement septic system, and a 100-foot diameter (50-foot radius) isolation area for the water well under current standards.
This 20,000 sq. ft. standard is more than half the size of the service areas for most Tippy home sites which are far smaller than 10,000 sq. ft. (based on review of the Kosciusko County GIS and zoning ordinance).
Given the age of the residential development at the lake and understanding that many of the on-site septic systems have likely matured to the point that they will need to be replaced, on-site treatment will either become too costly for homeowners to replace or not possible.
Tippecanoe and the Chapman Lakes are a few of the last Kosciusko Lakes to implement a sewer system. Effective water monitoring programs are underway on many area lakes that have completed the installation of sewer systems.
Septic systems in Indiana may function for 20 years or more. The Health Department’s responsibility is to make sure the system is properly sited, designed, and installed; but the homeowner is responsible for the use and maintenance. If the system is not maintained, the system will prematurely fail. Click here to learn how to properly abandon your septic system.
With the septic system life expectancy of 20-25 years, a community sewer system offers you less upfront replacement costs and approximately the same average monthly cost.
Gravity trenches, flood dosed trenches, elevated sand mound, and aerobic systems are the alternatives to a community sewer system. Replacement costs for these systems can range from $4,600-$30,000 which over 20 years at 4% can cost $28-$176 per month.
As a rule, tanks should be checked for solids buildup every year and pumped every one to three years if you have a garbage disposal which can increase solids buildup by 50%. In practice, however, how often solids should be removed depends on the lifestyle of the family using the system and the size of the tank. If you wait until wastewater begins to back up into your home, solids have already started over-flowing from the septic tank and into your absorption field. This can cause some very expensive damage to the soil absorption system. Note: a septic permit is required for any alteration or repair to the system. If you have questions about what is required, contact the Health Department.
You may sometimes hear gurgling in your drains, see bubbling in the toilet or an occasional damp/wet spot in the yard, or after a large rain the plumbing seems… slow. These are all signs that your system may be “ailing” and headed for replacement.
It is possible there may be a simpler solution such an obstruction or your tank may need pumped. However, if the symptoms return after the tank is pumped your system is headed for failure. You won’t know until it is evaluated. It will not go away by ignoring it! If you have an “ailing” septic system that is limping along, Don't wait until it is a full blown failure to start the process. The symptoms will get worse! If you complete as much of this process as possible, you can plan. Remember, once the “ailing” goes to “failing,” it disrupts the whole household.
About 50% of the home sites at Lake Tippecanoe and Chapman Lakes have some type of encroachment from the floodplain onto their land. In many cases it is adjacent to the water's edge and may be present only on the lake side of the lot. Some neighborhoods are completely within the flood zone. For those where only a portion of this land is in the floodplain the impact is related to the reduction of available space for the replacement of their on-site septic system or their water well.
Both wells and septic systems must be permitted by the county. This includes any repairs or replacements. All must meet the requirements of the state code and local code. Key requirements are:
Understanding that the majority of home sites at the lake are under 10,000 sq. ft. and assuming an average size home, out buildings, sidewalks, decks, landscaping etc. — isolation area compliance, under the code, by itself will be hard for many homeowners to achieve. This coupled with limitations in soil conditions, high water table, as well as the location of the existing septic systems — the compliant installation of a replacement system may be impossible in many cases.
Only 44% of the available land area within the Tippecanoe Lake and Chapman Lakes area is suitable for septic systems without special design considerations. This is accordance with the state of Indiana’s design and construction requirements for code compliant systems.
Of the remaining 55%, only 5% (81 acres) could be approved with special design considerations. this means that a pressure dosed mound system or something similar would be required.
Also it is important to note that criteria for septic system suitability relates only to soils suitability and doesn't account for other constraints such as water well isolation, available undisturbed area with the owner's lot etc.
Clay soils are made up of very small particles. Therefore, water drains through this dense soil slowly. This is why absorption systems in clay are much larger (and expensive) than absorption fields in sandier soils. In fact, because of it’s capillary action, clay soils like to hold water and not give it up.