On Septic Systems


Indianapolis has a surprising number of homes on septic systems.  Indianapolis also has a Septic System Elimination Program.  Friends of ours said their neighborhood was slated for Septic Elimination in 2001.  They’re still waiting.

I called a guy in the Health Department and a subsequent guy in a city department who knows all things City Septic.  Yes, the Elimination Program is alive, our neighborhood is on the schedule, but I couldn’t get any dates.  (I’m willing to bet a date was listed but was way overdue.)  A potential kink was that a private company was taking over city sewer, and they promised to keep the program, but who could say?  (Who is John Galt?)

I looked on the GIS map and knew a sewer ran to a church across the street, otherwise it was a good 1400 feet away at the nearest  arterial road.  Turns out the church sewer is private, and the city guy told me flat out that 1400 feet of sewer wasn’t in my budget.

I got the number of an engineer at Clearwater Environmental Solutions who ran me through some options based on a 3 bedroom house.  It seems odd at first to base septic size on the number of bedrooms and not bathrooms or plumbing fixtures, but a household of 4 people with 20 toilets will still have to flush the same number of times as they they would with 2 toilets.

There were three options:  A standard finger system with trenches and pipe laid out like fingers 10’ apart, a similar system with a treatment tank that required a smaller field, and a drip irrigation system that runs smaller pipe at 2’ apart and would take up about a 3rd the space as the standard system (and could be worked around the trees!).

I got in touch with a contractor to get estimates.  The standard finger system was $10k.  The more attractively sized drip irrigation system was $25k.  GLEEP!  We weren’t keen on the traditional system because it occupied about half of the lot (no!  the trees!), but the drip system was too costly.  The treated finger system was estimated at $14k.  While a significant cost, we felt it was workable and required less space on the lot, and we went through with closing on the lot.



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