Elkhart County
Health Department

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Food Questions

Q: What do I need to get a food permit?

A: Refer to the Plan Review Packet on the Food Service Sanitation Page.

Q: What is the cost of a food permit?

Q: What is considered an Event, Celebration, and/or Private Event?

A: Refer to the Elkhart County Food Service Ordinance 2005-322, Section 3 definitions B and Q.

Q: What do I need to do for a temporary event?

A: Refer to the Temporary Guidelines on the Food Service Sanitation Page.

Q: What is the cost for a temporary event?

Q: What do I need to do for a Not For Profit event?

A: See the Not-for-Profit section on the Food Service Sanitation Page.

Q: What are the requirements for who needs a certified food handler?

A: Go to the Food Service Sanitation page and follow the link to visit the Indiana State Department of Health's Certification Information page.

Q: Whom do I contact for certified food handler testing?

A: Go to the Food Service Sanitation Page and follow the Certification Information link.

Q: I want to open a new restaurant, what do I need to do?

A: Refer to the Plan Review Packet on the Food Service Sanitation Page.

Q: Can I run a restaurant out of my home?

A: No, Indiana state law prohibits any type of food service operations in a private residence.

Q: Is it required that all employees wear gloves in restaurants?

A: It is required that there be no bare hand contact with ready to eat foods. The use of gloves, tongs, tissues, spatulas, scoops, or other dispensing utensils is acceptable.

Q: What is the procedure for remodeling a food facility?

A: Refer to the Plan Review Packet on the Food Service Sanitation Page.

Q: What is the procedure for the new construction of a food facility?

A: Refer to the Plan Review Packet on the Food Service Sanitation Page.

Q: How long does it take a food service plan review to be completed?

A: At least 2 weeks, they are done on a first come first serve basis. All required information must be received before the plan review can be started. Incomplete or inadequate plans will delay the plan review process.

Q: Will an environmentalist come out to inspect a facility that I plan to purchase for a restaurant?

A: Our office does not routinely look at empty buildings for conversion to a food service. With the right amount of resources, most any building can be converted to a food service. Information about buildings that were once a food service may be obtained from our office by submitting a records request.

Q: What is the renewal date for a food license?

A: Food service licenses must be renewed by March 31st of each year.

Q: How do I get a copy of a recent or past inspection?

A: Submit a records request to our office. The Records Request Form can be found on the Forms page of this website in the Records Request section of the page.

Q: I plan to buy a restaurant that is currently in operation, what do I need to do?

A: You must contact our office prior to the change of ownership, apply for a new food service license (licenses are not transferable from person to person or location to location), and schedule a change of ownership inspection, which must be completed before a new license to operate will be issued. Changing ownership without completing these steps will result in increased license fees and the closure of your facility until full compliance is achieved.

Q: What if the food is given to the consumer at no charge, do I need a license or food safety certification?

A: A Limited or Full Service Food License is required any time food is served to the public regardless of the cost to the consumer. Also, refer to the Certification of Food Handler Requirements, 410 IAC 7-22, to view a complete list of the circumstances requiring a certified food handler.

Q: Do you offer educational aids that the public may borrow, such as videos?

A: VHS and DVD videos are available in both English and Spanish on a variety of food safety topics. These videos are available free to borrow from the Elkhart County Health Department Public Services Building at 4230 Elkhart Road in Goshen, IN.

Q: When should I contact the Elkhart County Health Department regarding closing my business due to outbreaks or natural disaster?

A: Refer to the Retail Food Establishments Sanitiation Requirements, 410 IAC 7-24 Section 109.

Q: I need to get food tested from a restaurant, whom do I contact?

A: Depending on what you want tested and the reason for the testing, it may be done through the Indiana State Department of Health or we can provide you with a list of certified labs. Contact our office at (574) 971-4600.

Q: How do I set up a pre-opening inspection for a facility?

A: You must call our office at (574) 971-4600 to schedule a pre-opening inspection with the food program supervisor.

Q: How do I report an unlicensed facility?

A: Contact our office at (574) 971-4600 and let the person answering the phone know you have a complaint.

Q: Whom do I contact to report someone selling food out of his or her vehicle?

A: Contact our office at (574) 971-4600 and let the person answering the phone know you have a complaint.

Q: How do I report becoming ill from a restaurant?

A: Contact our office at (574) 971-4600 and let the person answering the phone know you have a complaint.

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Septic Questions

Q: What do I need to apply for a septic permit and how long does it take?

A: See the Septic System Permit Procedure Guide

Q: What is an onsite evaluation?

A: An onsite evaluation/soil boring is an actual physical visit to the lot or location where an onsite sewage disposal system is proposed. An Environmentalist or Soil Scientist will provide direct detailed soil analysis to be reviewed by ECHD staff for the purpose of providing minimum requirements for the proposed system.

Q: What are minimum requirements?

A: Each State and local Ordinance requires certain minimum criteria to be satisfied prior to a permit being written or an onsite sewage disposal system being installed. This information is conveyed in writing to the owner/applicant. The system type, size and location criteria is provided in a format relative to the number of bedrooms in the home. See Elkhart County Ordinance 91-799, Section 5.

Q: How do I request an onsite evaluation/soil boring and how long does it take? Is there a cost involved?

A: Onsite evaluation request forms are available at our office or you may print an onsite evaluation (see onsite evaluation form) and fax a completed form to our office. There is no cost involved in requesting an onsite evaluation/soil boring. Flags or other markers you specify on the evaluation form must be placed on the property in the proposed system location and at the county road or curb to identify the parcel or lot. You will be notified when the results of the onsite evaluation/soil boring are ready, usual processing time is 3-5 business days.

Q: How do I call in septic inspections?

A: Septic inspections may be called in to our office Monday through Friday, between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. All inspection requests received during this period will be inspected that same day. Please provide the permit number and a phone number where you can be reached and an approximate time the system will be ready for inspection. Inspections are worked into an efficiency schedule for each Environmentalist. Requested times for inspection by the installer may not be possible, however we will make every effort to accommodate the inspection times provided as workload allows.

Q: What do I need to do in order to use my existing septic for a new home?

A: See Use of Existing Septic Systems

Q: Is there a diagram of my existing septic on file at ECHD?

A: Homes constructed prior to 1967 were not required to obtain a septic permit. There are no diagrams available for these homes, please contact a septic installer/contractor to locate your septic system. All other inquires should be requested on an Elkhart County Septic Look-Up Request Form.

Q: My septic system is failing. How do I find out if city water and sewer is available/accessible for my property?

A: You may request an onsite evaluation through ECHD.

Q: If there is no record of my septic diagram, how would I find the location of my system?

A: You may contact a septic installer/contractor to help you locate your system.

Q: Are well permits required?

A: Currently Elkhart County does not have a Well Ordinance, however one is being written and will be ready to be implemented soon.

Q: How can I become a registered installer?

A: Study material is available at the ECHD, Environmental Health Division Office or may be obtained by viewing/printing them on line. There is a yearly $25.00 registration fee renewable prior to June 30 each year. Testing hours are between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., Monday through Friday.

Q: If I have a septic permit and would like to change septic installers, what do I do?

A: Contact the ECHD Environmental Health Division Office and advise us of any changes you are proposing to make and to ensure that the installer is registered in Elkhart County.

Q: I want to improve the design of my new septic system. Do you have any suggestions?

A: See Suggestions for the Home Owner to improve septic design.

Q: I have received the results from my onsite evaluation/soil boring from ECHD. What do I do now?

A: New Construction and Repair/Replacement: Give a copy of the results to your building and/or septic contractor. They will need the information contained on the form to aid in the design of your septic system.

Q: I have received the results form my onsite evaluation/soil boring from ECHD and the minimum requirements indicate that I need a:

A:

  • Reserve area: See Elkhart County Ordinance 91-799, Section 10(a) and (b).
  • Perimeter Drain: See Elkhart County Ordinance 91-799, Section 11 and State Residential Rule 410 IAC 6-8.1-43, Drainage.
  • Elevated Sand Mound: See State Residential Rule 410 IAC 6-8.1-56 and Mound/Pressure Distribution Worksheet.
  • Flood Dosed System: State Residential Rule 410 IAC 6-8.1-53 and Flood Dose Worksheet.
  • Pressure Dosed System: State Residential Rule 410 IAC 6-8.1-55 and Mound/Pressure Distribution Worksheet.

Q: I want to construct a pole building, a swimming pool, etc. on my property. What are the isolation distances from the septic tank, absorption area and reserve area?

A: Residential Isolation Distances:

  • Water Well and any part of the septic system: Minimum of fifty (50) feet.
    (This includes sprinkler wells)
  • Septic tank to foundation: Minimum of ten (10) feet
  • Neighboring water wells: Minimum of fifty (50) feet
  • Cement Slabs: Minimum of five (5) feet
  • Decks on Posts: May encroach onto the system. However, the post must not disrupt trenches. Decks must have hatch opening to access tank lids for maintenance of tank and cleaning.
  • Sunrooms, etc: On post and beam construction with airspace under the structure are the same as decks described above.
  • Sheds on skids: With air space under them can reside on top of the system. All others must be a minimum of five (5) feet from any part of the septic system. (Only sheds on skids may be placed in reserve areas).
  • Pools:
    • Inground: Must be at least ten (10) feet from the "septic tank and absorption field". Measure to waterline of pool to component edge of system. Decks made of concrete around pools must be minimum of five (5) feet from system components.
    • Above ground: Must be at least five (5) feet from the "septic tank and absorption field" and may not be placed in a reserve area because of compaction and the ground leveling that is required to install the pool.

Q: Can homeowners install their own onsite sewage disposal system?

A: Yes. See "Do It Yourself" System Installation.

Q: How do I report a suspected unlawful installation of an onsite sewage disposal system?

A: Any suspected unlawful installation must be brought to this office's attention for enforcement action to be possible. Information we will request is: name and address of location, name of contractor/person installing system, materials being used, pictures to document installation and any other information you may have (license plate - DOT number of equipment).

Q: How much is an onsite sewage system disposal permit?

A: $175.00 (residential and commercial)

Q: How long is a septic permit good for?

A: New Construction: 2 years
Repair/Replacement: 1 year

Q: If I do not own the property can I still request a soil boring?

A:

  • New Construction: See Policy Position Statement Onsite Soil Borings and list of Indiana Registered Soil Scientists (IRSS).
  • Repair/Replacement of a failing system: Yes, an application for an Onsite Evaluation Request must be filled out and presented to our office for processing. See also Marking Utilities

Q: What do I need to apply for a septic permit?

A:

  • New construction: See Septic System Permit Procedure Guide and Checklist for Septic System Plan Submittal.
  • Repair/Replacement: See Checklist for Septic System Plan Submittal
    • Completed onsite evaluation.
    • Septic application.
    • Check for $175.00 (made payable to the Elkhart County Treasurer)
    • "To Scale" drawing of design plan

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Swimming Pool Questions

Q: How do I take the pool exam for the Person In Charge (PIC)?
How do I schedule a pool (PIC) exam?

A: Contact our office at (574)875-3391 to make an appointment to take the test.

Q: Where can I get the study material for a pool (PIC) exam?

A: Visit the Commercial Swimming Pool page of this website and download the State Pool Rule, State Pool Construction Rule, and the Elkhart County Swimming Pool Ordinance.

Q: If my PIC changes when does someone else need to take the exam?

A: The new person must take the test within one week of the change. Someone must pass the test within three weeks of the change.

Q: What is the procedure for a change of ownership?

A: You must contact our office prior to the change of ownership, apply for a new pool service license (licenses are not transferable from person to person or location to location), and schedule a change of ownership inspection and Person in Charge test, which must be completed before a new license to operate will be issued. Changing ownership without completing these steps will result in increased license fees and the closure of your pool until full compliance is achieved.

Q: How do I obtain a pool license for a commercial pool?

A: Contact our office to schedule an inspection and test and apply for a license.

Q: How much is the pool renewal fee for a commercial pool?

Q: How much is the pool renewal fee for a Not For Profit facility?

Q: How long does it take for a pool plan review to be completed?

A: At least 2 weeks, they are done on a first come first serve basis. All required information must be received before the plan review can be started. Incomplete or inadequate plans will delay the plan review process.

Q: When will I receive my license, after I have submitted my renewal fee and application?

A: After you have received a satisfactory water sample and a passing inspection from the Health Department.

Q: What is the procedure for the new construction of a commercial pool?

A: Refer to the Elkhart County Swimming Pool Ordinance and the State Pool Construction Rule on the Commercial Swimming Pool page of this website.

Q: What is the renewal date for a pool license?

A: Pool licenses must be renewed by April 30th every year.

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Open Burning Questions

Q: What are residents able to burn?

A: Only clean wood products from your yard (i.e. leaves, twigs, brush) may be burned. Wood products coated with stain, paint, glue, or other coatings are not safe to burn. No household waste may be burned.

Q: Are commercial sites able to burn?

A: According to State Law 326 IAC 4-1 and IC 13-17-9 no commercial business may open burn materials of any kind.

Q: Who do I contact to make a burning complaint?

A: You can contact our office at (574) 875-3391 or the Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management (IDEM) at 1-800-451-6027 extension 3-0178.

Q: Where can I get information on burning?

A: You can get information from IDEM or our office or by clicking here.

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Office Location:

4230 Elkhart Road
Elkhart, IN 46516
Phone: 574-971-4600
Email: envhealth@elkhartcounty.com