All onsite wastewater sewage disposal systems are regulated by the Board of Health.  Private sewage disposal systems provide for the treatment of domestic sewage from four or fewer dwelling units or less than 16 individuals; residential and non-residential.


A typical septic system has four main components:

  1. pipe from the home, 2. septic tank, 3. drainfield, and 4. the soil.

Wastewater moves from the septic tank to secondary treatment where it is naturally broken down by soil microbes, used by plants, and enters the atmosphere through evapotranspiration. 


Septic systems do not last forever…

Because septic systems do not last forever, new lots are required to have room for a replacement system.  Older subdivisions typically are very small lots with no planned replacement area for when the septic system fails. Because of the limited size of these lots – replacing the septic system could require additional measures such as a pre-treatment system or septic variance from the Board of Health. 


Replacing septic systems

Permits are required for all new septic installations or repairs.  The Environmental Health Inspectors perform site evaluations and approve the design before the permit is issued; inspect the final product before it is covered up; and issue a certificate of completion to the owner.  This assures that the septic system is designed to state standards.

Septic systems must be replaced when they have failed, when they’re discharging effluent to the surface of the ground, and when they are illegal systems such as cesspools.


Time of Transfer Inspections

All buildings served by a private sewage disposal system must have a Time of Transfer Inspection completed before the property can be transferred to a new owner.  (Certain exemptions do apply – see IAC 547 CH 69.)  Time of Transfer Reports are reviewed by the Environmental Health Inspectors to ensure the system is properly functioning.  If a septic system is not properly functioning, it may need to be replaced before the property can transfer.


Septic Permit Application & Instructions

Commercial Installers List

Licensed Time of Transfer Inspectors List

Referenced State Code Dept. of Natural Resources 567, IAC Ch. 69

Pottawattamie County Septic Code Ch. 5.5

Financial Assistance Available

The On-site Wastewater Assistance Program (OSWAP) is available to replace inadequate or failing septic systems in the form of low-interest loans through participating lenders to rural homeowners.


Septic Permit Application and Instructions


Commercial Installers List

  • Licensed Time of Transfer Inspectors List

  • Referenced State Code Dept. of Natural Resources 567, IAC Ch. 69

  • Pottawattamie County Septic Code Ch. 5.5

Iowa DNR Private Septic Systems


Well Water Quality (Testing, Renovating, and Closing wells)



The Pottawattamie County Board of Health is once again offering a program whereby State funding can be utilized for the purpose of testing water from water wells, properly plugging abandoned wells and cisterns that impact groundwater quality, and renovating existing wells to prevent contamination of the aquifer. Water testing is required for all newly drilled potable water wells. It is also recommended to have your water tested annually, after all well
maintenance activities, or after any changes in water quality.


We offer free water testing for: Bacteria, Nitrates, and Arsenic.

Contact the Planning Department to schedule a water test! 712-328-5792

Please consider properly plugging all unused or unneeded water wells! Not only a hazard to personal safety; old water supply wells are a site of point source pollution to the groundwater. Abandoned wells are not up to current code and are typically in poor condition, left standing open. These wells pose a risk to our drinking water because they can be a direct pathway for chemicals and contaminated water to enter the deeper aquifers that are normally protected. Help protect groundwater and our water quality by plugging unneeded

Contact us for more information on cost-share funds available! 712-328-5792
Or visit the Iowa DNR well plugging information page: