Updated Septic Ordinance



The following is a summary of Ordinance 287 Private Sewage Disposal Systems:

Ordinance 287 replaces Story County Ordinance Chapter 65, Private Sewage Disposal Systems, adopted May 29, 2018. The purpose of the ordinance is to supplement Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 69 by adding definitions and abbreviations, setting more stringent setbacks to streams, drainage district ditches, dwellings, and subsurface drainage tiles; limiting shared septic systems; identifying when a septic construction or septic alteration permit is needed, and required information for application; setting permit fees; requiring site evaluations; authorizing the sanitarian to request assistance with coring at the applicant’s expense; requiring information for site evaluations; setting special considerations for proposed subdivisions; requiring soil protection; setting more stringent holding tank requirements; authorizing the sanitarian to request an engineer’s plan; issuing, denying, and voiding permits; extending the permit expiration to two years; continuing the contractor certification requirement; requiring final inspection requests to be within eight hours of scheduled inspection; issuing certificates of completion; stating that the final inspection is no relief from responsibility for contractor; requiring septic tank and pump chamber pumping at least every five years for existing and new septic systems; requiring maintenance contracts to be submitted annually in January; authorizing the sanitarian to request discharging systems without a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit to test the discharge for BOD5, total suspended solids, and E.coli and setting maximum parameters for these discharging systems; authorizing the sanitarian to grant variances; including a severability clause; and setting an effective date of January 1, 2021. 

The Environmental Health Department’s policy is to allow sufficient time for property owners who have a deadline of 2021 for pumping their tank to comply with the new ordinance. Those property owners who have not pumped their tanks since June 1, 2016 will be given until June 1, 2021 before random compliance checks will begin. All other owners of septic systems will have five years to pump their septic tank.

Provisions imposing fines, penalties, forfeitures, fees, or taxes are covered under: 


   Unless another penalty is expressly provided by this Code of Ordinances for violation of any particular provision, section or chapter, any person failing to perform a duty required by this Code of Ordinances or otherwise violating any provision of this Code of Ordinances or any rule or regulation adopted herein by reference shall, upon conviction, be subject to a fine of at least $65.00 but not to exceed $625.00. The court may order imprisonment not to exceed 30 days in lieu of a fine or in addition to a fine.

(Code of Iowa, Sec. 331.302[2])


   A violation of this Code of Ordinances or any ordinance or code herein adopted by reference or the omission or failure to perform any act or duty required by the same, with the exception of those provisions specifically provided under State law as a felony, an aggravated misdemeanor, or a serious misdemeanor, or a simple misdemeanor under Chapters 687 through 747 of the Code of Iowa, is a county infraction punishable by civil penalty as provided herein.

(Code of Iowa, Sec. 331.307)

   1. Penalties. A county infraction is punishable by the following civil penalties:

      A. First Offense – Not to exceed $750.00

      B. Each Repeat Offense – Not to exceed $1,000.00

Each day that a violation occurs or is permitted to exist constitutes a repeat offense.

   2. Civil Citations. Any officer authorized by the County to enforce this Code of Ordinances may issue a civil citation to a person who commits a municipal infraction. The citation may be served by personal service as provided in Rule of Civil Procedure 1.305, by certified mail addressed to the defendant at defendant’s last known mailing address, return receipt requested, or by publication in the manner as provided in Rule of Civil Procedure 1.310 and subject to the conditions of Rule of Civil Procedure 1.311. A copy of the citation shall be retained by the issuing officer, and one copy shall be sent to the Clerk of the District Court. The citation shall serve as notification that a civil offense has been committed.

   3. Alternative Relief. Seeking a civil penalty as authorized in this chapter does not preclude the County from seeking alternative relief from the court in the same action. Such alternative relief may include, but is not limited to, an order for abatement or injunctive relief. 

   4. Criminal Penalties. This section does not preclude a peace officer from issuing a criminal citation for a violation of this Code of Ordinances or regulation if criminal penalties are also provided for the violation. Nor does it preclude or limit the authority of the County to enforce the provisions of this Code of Ordinances by criminal sanctions or other lawful means.

The written ordinance can be viewed at the at the Environmental Health Department, Story County Administration Building, 900 6th Street, Nevada Iowa during regular business hours, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday or here.

View existing Chapter 65 Private Sewage Disposal Systems.

Audio recording from November 18, 2020 Public Hearing