Local and State Sewer, Septic, and Well Information

Local Septic and Well Policies

Below are individual local Septic and Well Ordinances across the 6 County Region (Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska Leelanau, and Wexford). We have provided the information in a simplified grid form with summaries and links to the full septic and well policies in the dropdown as well. If you notice any information that is missing or incorrect contact connor@aspirenorthrealtors.com with any additional information you believe should be added.

Chart below courtesy of Aspire North REALTORS Affiliate Member Butch Strait with Butch Strait Inspections, PLC

Municipality

Transfer Septic Inspection Required

Pumping Required

Transfer Well Inspection Required

Notes

Elk Rapids Township (Antrim County)

Yes

Yes (5 years)

Yes

By Health Department (Health Department of Northwest Michigan)

Village of Elk Rapids (Antrim County)

Yes

Yes (5 years)

Yes

By Health Department (Health Department of Northwest Michigan)

Milton Township (Antrim County) 

Yes

Yes (5 years)

Yes

By Health Department (Health Department of Northwest Michigan)

Torch Lake Township (Antrim County)

Yes

Yes (unless pumped within 5 years prior to the evaluation)

Yes

By Health Department (Health Department of Northwest Michigan)

Benzie County

Yes

No

Yes

By Health Department (Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department)

Long Lake Township (Grand Traverse County)

Yes

No

No

By Certified Inspector or Health Department (Grand Traverse County Health Department)

Kalkaska County

Yes

Yes (2 years)

Yes

By Certified Inspector or Health Department (District Health Department #10)

Leelanau County

Yes

No

Yes

By Health Department (Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department)

County and Local Government Septic and Well Ordinances

For any clients who may have interest or concerns regarding the Wickes Manufacturing Trichloroethylene (TCE) Plume in Antrim County.  Here is a Fact Sheet put together by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on the TCE Plume. This Fact Sheet includes a history of the TCE Plume, it's location, and information on the ongoing prevention and monitoring efforts to ensure TCE exposure does not occur. For additional information, including an interactive web mapping application visit the Michigan EGLE Wickes Manufacturing TCE Plume website,

Effective as of March 11th, 2024 the Elk Rapids Septic Inspection and Property Transfer Ordinance requires that "an owner of any premises in the Township shall not transfer a premises until the following condition are met:

1. The existing STDS has been evaluated as required by this Ordinance and the HDNW has determined that the STDS complies with the HDNW’s Environmental Health Regulations and, if applicable, the private water supply system complies with the requirements of Section 7 of the Ordinance; and

2. A written copy of the evaluation report has been provided to the transferee or an authorized agent of the transferee by the owner or an authorized agent of the owner."(i)

Owner/transfers are exempt from this requirement if:

  • A new or replacement STDS was installed within ten (10) years prior to the date of transfer

  • An evaluation that meets the requirements of the Elk Rapids Septic Inspection and Property Transfer Ordinance was conducted within five (5) years prior to the date of transfer

  • Transfer from one spouse to the other spouse or a child

  • A change in ownership solely to include a spouse or child

  • An involuntary transfer pursuant to foreclosure or court order(ii)

For additional details check out the Elk Rapids Inspection and Property Transfer Ordinance.

 

i. Section 5A Page 3 of the Elk Rapids Septic Inspection and Property Transfer Ordinance

ii. Section 5B Pages 3 and 4 of the Elk Rapids Septic Inspection and Property Transfer Ordinance

Under the Village of Elk Rapids Septic Inspection and Property Transfer Ordinance an “evaluation of a sewage treatment and disposal system (STDS) and private water supply system” is required “at the time the property is transferred to determine the operational status of the STDS and the private water supply system (Well). The Village has an intergovernmental agreement with the HDNW (Health Department of Northwest Michigan) in which the HDNW has agreed to conduct all evaluations required by this Ordinance. Only evaluations conducted by the HDNW or its contractors comply with this Ordinance. If an evaluation discovers a defective STDS or private water supply system, the HDNW may take such action, pursuant to its own rules and regulations, to protect the environment and/or public health.”(i) “The septic tank(s) must be pumped and serviced by a licensed Michigan hauler.” unless “a STDS has been pumped within 5 years prior to the evaluation”(ii) Some exemptions do apply, for complete details view the Village of Elk Rapids Septic Inspection and Property Transfer Ordinance.

Due to current staffing and workload, Health Department of Hortwest Michigan turnaround time for evaluations/inspections are running about 3 weeks.

i. Section 11-92D Page 2 of the Village of Elk Rapids Septic Inspection and Property Transfer Ordinance

ii. Section 11-97B Page 5 of the Village of Elk Rapids Septic Inspection and Property Transfer Ordinance

Under the Milton Township Septic Inspection and Property Transfer Ordinance an “evaluation of a sewage treatment and disposal system (STDS) and private water supply system” is required “at the time the property is transferred to determine the operational status of the STDS and the private water supply system (Well). The Village has an intergovernmental agreement with the Health Department of Northwest Michigan in which the HDNW has agreed to conduct all evaluations required by this Ordinance. Only evaluations conducted by the HDNW or its contractors comply with this Ordinance. If an evaluation discovers a defective STDS or private water supply system, the HDNW may take such action, pursuant to its own rules and regulations, to protect the environment and/or public health.”(i) “The septic tank(s) must be pumped and serviced by a Michigan licensed septage hauler.” unless “a STDS has been pumped within 5 years prior to the evaluation.” (ii) Some exemptions do apply, for complete details view the Milton Township Septic Inspection and Property Transfer Ordinance.

Due to current staffing and workload, Health Department of Hortwest Michigan turnaround time for evaluations/inspections are running about 3 weeks.

i. Section 2D Page 2 of the Milton Township Septic Inspection and Property Transfer Ordinance

ii. Section 7A2 Page 5 of the Milton Township Septic Inspection and Property Transfer Ordinance

Effective as of September 8th, 2023, the Torch Lake Township Septic Inspection and Property Transfer Ordinance "requires an evaluation of a sewage treatment and disposal system (STDS) and private water supply system at the time the property is transferred to determine the operational status of the STDS and private water supply system. The Township has an intergovernmental agreement with the Health Department of Northwest Michigan (HDNW) in which the HDNW has agreed to conduct all evaluations required by this ordinance. Only evaluations conducted by the HDNW or its evaluators comply with this ordinance. If an evaluation discovers a defective STDS or private water supply system, or noncompliance with current code(s), the HDNW may take such action, pursuant to its own rules and regulations, to protect the environment and/or public health."(I) An evaluation must be conducted of a premises in Torch Lake Township prior to the transfer of a premises unless one of the following circumstances exists:

  • Based on information provided by the owner or the records of the HDNW a determination is made by the HDNW that, pursuant to a permit issued by the HDNW under applicable Environmental Health Regulations, a new or replacement STDS was installed on the premises within ten years prior to the proposed date of transfer.
  • Based on information provided by the owner or the records of the HDNW, a determination is made by the HDNW that the STDS, which serves the premises, has been evaluated and found by the HDNW to meet the requirements of this Ordinance within five years prior to the date of the proposed transfer.
  • Based on information provided by the owner or the records of the HDNW, a determination is made by the HDNW that any structure on the premises, which is served by a STDS, will be demolished and not replaced. 
  • When a mortgage or other payment obligation for which the premises is pledged as security is refinanced.
  • A transfer to establish, release or foreclose on a secured interest (such as a mortgage).  
  • An involuntary transfer pursuant to foreclosure or court order.(ii)

A failed STDS will need to be remedied within six (6) months or in a time frame agreed upon by the HDNW.(iii)  Also, "a survey of septic permits held by the Health Department of Northwest Michigan will be performed by the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. If no record of a septic permit exists, the septic system must be inspected within three years of notification by the township. The township has the responsibility to notify non-compliant property owners."(iv) 

Violation of this Ordinance can carry a HEFTY fine of up to $5,000, and EACH DAY the violation remains may be a separate offense. (v)

Application for a time of transfer septic inspection can be found at http://nwhealth.org/pubs/EH-57-R.pdf. Please be advised that due to current staffing and workload, the Health Department of Northwest Michigan's turnaround time for evaluations/inspections is running about 3-4 weeks.

View the Torch Lake Township Septic Inspection and Property Transfer Ordinance for additional information regarding Torch Lake Township's Time of Transfer Ordinance.

i. Section 2D, page 1 of the Torch Lake Township Septic Inspection and Property Transfer Ordinance

ii. Section 5.2, pages 3-4 of the Torch Lake Township Septic Inspection and Property Transfer Ordinance

iii. Section 8.8, page 5 of the Torch Lake Township Septic Inspection and Property Transfer Ordinance

iv. Section 6.1, page 4 of the Torch Lake Township Septic Inspection and Property Transfer Ordinance

v. Section 12.1, page 6 of the Torch Lake Township Septic Inspection and Property Transfer Ordinance

Under the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department Sanitary Code Chapter 6, Section 6.2 "Except as provided in subsection 6.2(b)... an owner of premises or a dwelling shall not sell, convey, assign nor transfer ownership of, or exclusive rights in, any dwelling and/or habitable building or premises unless and until the owner or the owner’s designated agent has requested a Health Officer to evaluate the existing on-site water well system and/or the existing on-site sewage disposal system and unless and until such evaluation by the Health Officer has been conducted and the results thereof have been reduced to writing and furnished to any prospective purchaser or transferee and the seller or transferor as part of the said transaction on a form established by the Health Department."(i) Exceptions and additional requirements can be found in Chapter 6 of the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department Sanitary Code. A summary of the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department recent changes can be found in this Quick Reference Guide.

i. Section 6.2, Page 32 of the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department Sanitary Code.

Under the Long Lake Township Inspection of On-site Sewage Disposal Systems at the Time of Property Transfer Ordinance “an Owner of any Premises in the Township shall not Sell a Premises until the following conditions are met:

  • An Inspection report of the OSDS (On-site Sewage Disposal Systems) for the Premises has been filed with the Township; and

  • A written copy of the inspection report has been provided to the Transferee as part of the Sale of the Premises”(i)

The exemption to the OSDS inspection report requirement is if the “Sale of Premises” “had an OSDS Installed within the last thirty-six (36) months pursuant to a permit issued by the Health Department of the OSDS” or had “been inspected as required by” the Long Lake Township Inspection of On-site Sewage Disposal Systems at the Time of Property Transfer Ordinance “within thirty-six (36) months of the proposed Sale and has been found to be in compliance with the Environmental Health Regulations of the Health Department.”(ii)

“In the Sale or expectation of a Sale of a Premises in the Township, any Person who acts for a fee as an Authorized Agent of the Owner or Transferee, provides an abstract of title or title insurance for a Premises or provides escrow services shall advise the Owner and Transferee in writing of (i) the requirements of this Ordinance and the requirements of Township ordinance Number 23 pertaining to supplemental real estate disclosure regarding an OSDS.”(iii) 

 

i. Section 6A Page 4 of the Long Lake Township Inspection of On-site Sewage Disposal Systems at the Time of Property Transfer Ordinance

ii. Section 6B Page 4 of the Long Lake Township Inspection of On-site Sewage Disposal Systems at the Time of Property Transfer Ordinance

iii. Section 5A Page 3-4 of the Long Lake Township Inspection of On-site Sewage Disposal Systems at the Time of Property Transfer Ordinance

Under District Health Department #10’s Sanitary Code Chapter 11 Section 3 “There shall be no sale of a parcel containing an OWSS (On-site Water Supply System), OSDS (On-site Sewage Disposal System) or OWSDS (On-site Water and Sewage Disposal System) in Kalkaska and Manistee County until the following conditions are met:

  • The seller files an evaluation report with the District Health Department #10 that was completed by either District Health Department #10 or a private inspector that is certified by District Health Department #10; and, 

  • The District Health Department #10 determines, based upon such report, that the OWSDS is satisfactory or that any necessary corrections are completed or assured and accepted.”(i)

Inspections are required unless an inspection or evaluation has been completed “with-in twenty-four (24) months (2 years) preceding the date of property sale.”(ii)

Septic tank pumping required within 24 months (2 years) as well. (iii) Some exemptions do apply, for complete details view Chapter 11 of the District Health Department #10’s Sanitary Code

 

i. Chapter 11 Section 3.1 Page 58 of the District Health Department #10’s Sanitary Code

ii. Chapter 11 Section 3.2 Page 58 of the District Health Department #10’s Sanitary Code

iii. Chapter 11 Section 3.3 Page 59 of the District Health Department #10’s Sanitary Code

Under the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department Sanitary Code Chapter 6, Section 6.2 "Except as provided in subsection 6.2(b)... an owner of premises or a dwelling shall not sell, convey, assign nor transfer ownership of, or exclusive rights in, any dwelling and/or habitable building or premises unless and until the owner or the owner’s designated agent has requested a Health Officer to evaluate the existing on-site water well system and/or the existing on-site sewage disposal system and unless and until such evaluation by the Health Officer has been conducted and the results thereof have been reduced to writing and furnished to any prospective purchaser or transferee and the seller or transferor as part of the said transaction on a form established by the Health Department."(i) Exceptions and additional requirements can be found in Chapter 6 of the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department Sanitary Code. A summary of the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department recent changes can be found in this Quick Reference Guide.

i. Section 6.2, Page 32 of the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department Sanitary Code.

No current local Septic or Well Ordinance

State of Michigan Sewer, Septic, and Well Policy

Michigan is the only state without a statewide sanitary code. Septic and sewage regulations are set through local ordinances. The Michigan Criteria for Subsurface Sewage Disposal (2013) provides guidance for local health departments regarding on-site sewage disposal systems.

Permit Requirements for Wells in Michigan include:
  • Well owner must seek approval from a local department of health prior to constructing a new well. Work must be performed by a registered well driller with a permit from the health department.
  • Permits for hand pump wells to serve rustic cabin structures not equipped with internal plumbing can be granted under special circumstances.

You can find additional guidance on Sewers, Septic and Wells in Michigan in the dropdowns below as well as the links to your local area health departments.

Regional Health Department Websites

  • Permits, plan approval, and site evaluation required prior to construction or modification of on-site sewage system. In addition, landowner must give notification to any utility prior to any site excavations, borings, or tunneling to determine the location of nearby underground utilities.
  • Preliminary site evaluation. Will include existing and proposed buildings or improvements on the lot or site, the existence of buried on-site utilities, if available, easements or deed restrictions, current and proposed property or boundary lines. Additionally, there must be a substantiation that groundwater quality of usable aquifers is protected for existing or future use.
  • Connection to a public sanitary sewer system. Required when available and when the local governmental entity having jurisdiction requires connection.
  • Variances. Property owner may apply for variances from the local departments of health where the provisions contained within the Criteria cannot be met or where other more acceptable alternatives are not available so long as the variance does not create a nuisance or health hazard.
  • Minimum setback requirements. Soil dispersal field and septic tank must be at least 200 feet from public wells, 50 feet from a private well, 100 feet from surface waters, 10 feet from basement walls or a building foundation, 10 feet from property lines, and 25 feet from a footing drain with a connection to surface waters.
  • Community on-site wastewater systems that serve multi-residential homes should comply with the daily gallon per day per bedroom flow suggestions in Table 6.1 of the Criteria.

Time of sale/transfer septic ordinances. Local counties now require the inspection of existing septic systems prior to the sale of property.

Mich. Admin. Code R. 325-1601-1676

  • Construction/operation requirements. Wells must be constructed to maintain existing natural protection against the contamination of aquifers, exclude all known sources of contamination from the well, and operated to prevent unnecessary discharge from flowing wells.
  • Location restrictions; distances from contamination sources. Mich. Admin. Code R. 325.1622. Wells must be at least 300 feet from a municipal wastewater treatment facility, 800 feet from a landfill or active septage waste, 150 feet from a storage facility for fertilizers, 50 feet from a septic tank, dry well, subsurface disposal field, and seepage pit, 10 feet from a surface water body. The well owner is responsible for maintaining these separation distances.
    • Mich. Admin. Code R. 325.1625. Flood areas. A well cannot be located in an area that is subject to flooding unless the well is protected.
  • Non-compliance. Mich. Admin. Code R. 325.1674. If a water supply is noncompliant with these provisions, it may not be connected to a public water supply.
  • Abandoned wells. An abandoned well that is located on property which has a well that serves the public or a residence other than the well owner's residence, must be plugged by a registered well drilling contractor. A well owner is responsible for properly sealing an abandoned well.