Can you have a septic tank without a leach field?
Here in Northern Indiana, the question is often asked…”Can I have a septic tank without a leach field?” Let’s look at that question a bit closer in this blog.
First of all, we need to define the question a bit…
Are you wondering if you can install a new septic system for a new home having only a septic tank, but no leach field?
If so, the short, easy answer is no. The Indiana State Department of Health, (ISDH) writes the codes that govern septic systems in Indiana. The code states that new homes constructed in Indiana shall be designed and plotted to allow sufficient space on the property to adequately treat the wastewater generated by the home on-site if they are not connected to a municipal sewer system. This means that new home construction must be served by a septic system that consists not only of a septic tank, but also provides a system to treat the wastewater, and release the clean water back into the environment…such as a leach field, sand mound, Advanced Treatment System, (ATS), or another method approved by ISDH.
What about an existing home whose old system has problems, is failing, and needs replaced?
The ISDH has provisions in its codes for homes whose septic systems have failed, and are in need of repair or replacement. As long as there is sufficient space on the property, including all setbacks, (50’ from well, etc.), wastewater is to be treated on-site.
In the event of insufficient space, due to small lots that were platted long ago, causing an inability to meet setbacks, such as 25’ from a body of water, etc., for an existing property with no other options, a holding tank may be installed. This is really the only scenario given in the Indiana code where a home may be served by a septic tank with no leach field.
Here in Northern Indiana, we have a lot of lakes, which have many small lots plotted around their perimeters many years ago, with a lot of older homes constructed on them. Over the years, many of the small septic systems serving these homes have become overburdened, resulting in system failure. Due to the small physical lot sizes, often when you block out a 50’ radius from the well, and 50’ radius of all neighboring wells, and 25’ from the lake water’s edge, there is actually no land left to treat the wastewater safely. In this case, a sealed Holding Tank may be installed.
Let’s look at the question from an alternative angle…
“Can I have a septic tank with no leach field?”
Maybe you have an old farmhouse, built a hundred years ago, and no one has any idea where the septic tank is, or if it even has one. There are no records because the county didn’t keep those kinds of records long ago…and you may be wondering… “where does my wastewater go?”
In this case, You may be the owner of a septic tank with no leach field!
Many years ago, in the history of mankind…there was a time when builders constructed houses in the country served by septic tanks, but the wastewater went straight from the septic tank through a drainage pipe, eventually ending up in a creek or drain way. These systems tend to work flawlessly for many years, providing no problems for the homeowner…except for polluting the waters of our beautiful state.
These systems are no longer legal, and the state requires that they are not allowed to be repaired without bringing them up to code. In order to bring a system like this up to code, it will require the addition of a leach field component to treat the wastewater before releasing it.