Sewage Systems



The On-Site Sewage System Management Program under the direction of the Barry- Eaton District Health Department Sanitary Code is a program that endeavors to assure that the residents in the District will avoid exposure to untreated sewage and to reduce contamination of groundwater and surface water resources.

The Site Evaluation (previously called "perk test") is the first step in the process of determining if an existing or proposed parcel that does not have municipal wastewater services available can be considered for an on-site septic system. After an application has been made, a sanitarian will evaluate the proposed site to determine if the conditions on the site meet the requirements that are in the Sanitary Code. Some of the specific items that are examined during the evaluation are:

  • Soil type and permeability
  • Depth to seasonal high water table
  • Slope
  • Landscape position
  • Horizontal separation distance from wells, surface water bodies, county drains, etc.
  • Amount of suitable area available
  • Area hydrogeology
  • Runoff patterns
  • Proximity to available public sewer
  • Proposed land use
  • Estimated wastewater flow volume
  • Size of parcel (< one acre land division vs.> one acre)
  • Easements, right-of-ways & Building setbacks
  • Location of buried utilities and other site improvements
  • New development site verses repair site

To obtain an application for a site evaluation, click here.

If the results of the Site Evaluation allow for the parcel to be developed, the next step in the process is the application for a septic system permit. Once the application has been submitted and the appropriate fee is paid, the system’s construction can be authorized by one of our sanitarians.

To obtain a septic permit, click here.

Final inspections are performed on newly installed systems after this office has been notified by the installer that the septic system has been completed. The sanitarian will visit the site and inspect the installation of the system, assuring that it was installed according to the requirements that were indicated on the permit. After the system has been given final approval by the sanitarian, an approved tag is provided and the system can then be covered.

If the parcel does not meet the minimum requirements for a conventional system, it may be a candidate for an alternative type septic system. The following types of alternative systems are currently recognized within the District.

  • Sand Filter Systems 
  • Lagoons 
  • Other system types as my be approved 

Each of these types of alternative type of septic systems requires particular minimum standards in order to be used upon a parcel. If you have any questions regarding the use of an alternative type septic system, contact the Environmental Health Division at 517-541-2615 in Eaton County and 269-945-9516 (press 3 then 5) in Barry County.


Certain wastewater treatment technologies – low pressure dose mounds over slowly permeable soils, lagoons, and alternative (pretreatment) systems – may only be installed by individuals certified by the Barry-Eaton District Health Department. To view a list of Certified Alternative Wastewater Treatment System Installers, click here. Conventional wastewater treatment systems do not require a certified installer.

Proper septic system maintenance can prevent premature failures and contamination problems from occurring. It will also assure that your system operates effectively throughout its expected lifetime. Replacing a septic system is costly, so proper maintenance makes good economic sense. There are several important things that homeowners can do to ensure that their septic system is properly maintained:

  • If you don't already know the location of your septic system, find out. Keep a sketch of the location and the dimension of the system with your maintenance records for service visits.
  • If you don’t find a system, you may not have one and thus need to obtain a permit to have one constructed. Tiles that connect your sewage to a county drain, lake, stream/river, or field drainage tile are not a sewage system.
  • Divert other sources of water such as roof drains, footing drains, water softener discharge, and sump pump discharge away from the septic system.
  • Keep soil slightly mounded over your septic system to help surface water run-off and provide a grass cover on the top of the system.
  • Keep automobiles, heavy equipment, machinery and livestock of the drainfield.
  • Practice water conservation--repair dripping faucets and leaking toilets, run washing machines and dishwashers only when full, avoid long showers, and use water saving devices in faucets, shower heads and toilets.
  • Use bleach, disinfectants, and drain and toilet bowl cleaners sparingly and in accordance with product labels.
  • Take leftover hazardous household chemicals to an approved hazardous waste collection center for disposal.
  • Have your system inspected annually by a licensed professional and your tank pumped regularly (typically every 2-3 years).
  • Keep a detailed record of permits issued, inspections, pumping, repairs, and other maintenance activities.
  • Contact the health department whenever you experience problems with your system or if there are signs of system failure. 

For more information on prolonging the life of your drainfield please visit the following:

Complaint investigation is one of the components of the groundwater protection program that allows residents within the district to file a written request with this office regarding a failed on-site sewage system, water supply problem or other potential health hazard. Once this office receives the request for investigation, a Sanitarian will investigate the complaint and, if warranted, will require that corrections be made to remedy the situation. To download a complaint form, click here