Wastewater Treatment Facility and Sanitary Sewer Construction Permit Program

A primary responsibility of the Facility Construction and Engineering Support Section is to issue construction permits for wastewater treatment facilities and sanitary sewers. Indiana Administrative Code (327-IAC-3 [PDF]) requires that a construction permit be obtained before construction can begin for a new, modified or expanded wastewater treatment plant or for a new sanitary sewer, modification or extension.

In order to apply for a construction permit an applicant would need to submit application forms, plans, and specifications to the Facility Construction and Engineering Support Section for review. There are three types of application forms that can be submitted for review:

  1. Sanitary Sewer Construction Permit (State Form 53159, available on the IDEM Forms page). This would also include lift station and force main construction.
  2. Wastewater Treatment Plant Construction Permit (State Form 53160, available on the IDEM Forms page). This form is for the domestic type of municipal and/or semi-public wastewater treatment and would be for a new, modified or expanded treatment plant.
  3. Industrial Wastewater Treatment Plant Construction Permit (State Form 53161, available on the IDEM Forms page). This form would also serve for the issuance of a construction permit for an industrial wastewater pretreatment plant that discharges its’ effluent into a sanitary sewer main (Not all industrial treatment or pretreatment facilities require a construction permit. Refer to Indiana Code 13-14-8-11.6).

Within the Administrative Code (327-IAC-3 [PDF]) are technical standards for the design and construction of sanitary sewer systems beginning with 327-IAC-3-6-1.

For wastewater treatment plants, there have not been any technical standards included in 327 IAC 3. Instead, the well known publication “Recommended Standards for Wastewater Facilities” (Ten States Standards) is used as a guideline along with other technical manuals when a technical review is performed. As a first step, the applicant must apply for the NPDES “Preliminary Effluent Limits” for the stream that is proposed to be discharged to. It is important to know if you will be allowed to discharge into a particular stream and if the effluent limits can be achieved by the wastewater treatment system that you are considering.

Wastewater Construction Permitting Guidance

Following is information about the various approval requirements for building or modifying wastewater treatment facilities, including sewer main extensions, lift stations, industrial or municipal wastewater treatment plants, and industrial or municipal pretreatment plants.

Which projects require an IDEM-issued Wastewater Facility Construction Permit prior to construction?

  • Sanitary sewer main extensions, or modifications to existing sewer mains, but only if the construction does not otherwise have the permit approval from a local publicly owned sewer authority. Under Indiana Administrative Code (327 IAC 3-2.1-3 [PDF]), the applicant can gain local approval by submitting plans to the local wastewater treatment authority which meet all state water pollution control rules and are prepared by a professional engineer. The local authority is responsible for reviewing the plans and notifying IDEM of approved projects.
  • New sanitary sewer lift stations or modifications to existing lift stations.
  • New municipal and semi-public wastewater treatment plants or modifications to existing facilities, including changes/additions to treatment process units.
  • New or modifications to existing industrial wastewater pretreatment plants discharging to publicly owned treatment works, but only if those pretreatment facilities are operating under an Industrial Wastewater Pretreatment Permit (IWPP) issued by IDEM.

Which activities do not require a Wastewater Facility Construction Permit?

A permit is not required for modifications to repair, replace or add equipment at existing municipal or industrial water pollution control/wastewater treatment facilities, which are not associated with treating new types of influent pollutants or to increase the capacity of the facility. However, addition of a new treatment process unit or significant modification to an existing treatment process unit may require a construction permit regardless of whether there is an increase in capacity.

In addition, under 327 Indiana Administrative Code (327 IAC 3-2-4 [PDF]), a Wastewater Facility Construction Permit is not required for the following projects:

  1. Storm sewers transporting only surface run-off;
  2. House connection for single-family dwelling or residence;
  3. Building connection for multi-unit residential, commercial or industrial building that does not discharge toxic substances or pollutants incompatible with the collection system, or incapable of being treated to an acceptable quality;
  4. All residential on-site sewage systems subject to 410 IAC 6-8.3;
  5. All commercial on-site sewage systems subject to 410 IAC 6-10.1;
  6. Any animal confinement operation, whether or not it is a confined feeding operation;
  7. On-site storage lagoons at land application sites that are governed by 327 IAC 6.1;
  8. Groundwater remediation systems utilizing either carbon absorption or air stripping as the mode of treatment;
  9. Wells for the disposal of salt- or sulfur-bearing water and waste liquids, if such disposal is pursuant to a valid permit issued by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources or U.S. EPA;
  10. Repair or replacement in kind of sanitary sewers;
  11. Construction of experimental wastewater treatment equipment provided it treats a side stream of wastewater from an existing treatment facility and the effluent from the experimental equipment is returned to the existing facility.

Wastewater Facility Construction Permit fees

No fee is required for sewer projects or for state and federal projects. Meanwhile, governmental entities (county, municipal or township) and non-profit organizations are only required to pay $50 for new or expanded wastewater treatment facilities. All other applicants pay the following fees:

Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion

Wastewater Construction Permit Fees
Application Fees for New or Expanded Wastewater Treatment Facilities
Sewer Projects: No Fee
Governmental Entities and Non-profit Organizations: $50
All Other Applicants:
New Wastewater Treatment (except industrial) Up to 500,000 gpd (gallons per day) $1,250
Greater than 500,000 gpd $2,500
New Industrial Wastewater Treatment Plant (including pretreatment) Up to 500,000 gpd for:
Biological or chemical treatment: $1,250
Physical treatment: $250
Greater than 500,000 gpd:
Biological or chemical treatment: $2,500
Physical treatment: $500
Wastewater Treatment Plant Expansion: Up to fifty percent (50%) design capacity:
Up to 500,000 gpd: $625
Greater than 500,000 gpd: $1,250
Greater than fifty percent (50%) design capacity:
Up to 500,000 gpd: $1,250
Greater than 500,000 gpd: $2,500

What to Expect

IDEM is allowed 90 days to complete its review and issue a Wastewater Facility Construction Permit. Sanitary sewer permits generally take 40 to 60 days and treatment plant construction permits generally take 60 to 90 days.

There is no public comment period required for a Wastewater Facility Construction Permit application. However, like all IDEM-issued environmental permits, it may be appealed by any affected or interested party. The appeal must be filed with the Office of Environmental Adjudication within 18 days (15 days, plus 3 days for mail delivery) of a permit decision.

Where IDEM’s Office of Water Quality issues a wastewater facility construction permit for the construction of sewer lines, a lift station, wastewater treatment facility, or other related equipment, construction must begin within one year of the date of issuance.

Questions may be directed to the IDEM OWQ Construction Permit Section (317-232-5579).