Septic System

Septic Regulations in Iowa

There are about 739 unsewered communities in Iowa. Some were considered too small for sanitary projects to be cost-effective and thus came to be dependent on private septic systems. Private sewer systems are regulated by local boards of health in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Also called onsite water treatment and disposal systems, the complete regulations are found in Chapter 69 of the Administrative Code.

Licensure Requirements for Septic System Contractors

Iowa Septic tank cleaners must apply for and be issued a license that authorizes them to engage in cleaning and maintaining onsite sewage systems, as well as disposing of septage from any disposal system in the state of Iowa. The licenses, which are valid for a year and needs to be renewed, are issued by the Department of Natural Resources. Applicants must submit a license fee and an annual waste management plan. Vehicles used for the same purpose also have to be registered as such.

Installing a New Septic System

A permit to construct or install a septic system is required from the Department of Natural Resources before any such work is begun on a property. The same is true for any repair or alteration work as well. If the Board of Health sees that there is reasonable accessibility to a public sewer system, a permit will not be granted.

The application for permission to construct has to be filed with the County Sanitarian and be accompanied by the results of the soil test, a sketch of the property with approximate dimensions, and the required fee. Once constructed, the system has to be inspected and certified ready for usage by the Board of Health.

How to File a Complaint

Complaints may be addressed to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Contact Information

Director's Office
Iowa Department of Natural Resources
502 E. 9th Street,
Des Moines, IA 50319-0034

Finding a Nearby Septic Service Company

View our directory of local Iowa septic tank pumping and maintenance small businesses.


Field office contact information can be found here.

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