Clayton County, Iowa

Font Size


Individual Sewage Disposal System Ordinance


SECTION 1.  DEFINITIONS: The following words, for the purpose of this Ordinance, shall have the following meanings:

  1. Board of Health. The Clayton County, Iowa, Board of Health.
  2. Health Department. The Clayton County Health Department.
  3. Health Officer. The Sanitarian or Chairman of the Clayton County Board of Health or an authorized representative.

Chapter 137.21 of the Code of Iowa:  Local Boards shall have the following powers:

  1. Enforce state health laws and the rules and lawful orders of the state department.
  2. Make and enforce such reasonable rules and regulations not inconsistent with law or with the rules of the state board as may be necessary for the protection and improvement of the public health.
  3. Enforcement within Clayton County, Iowa, of state health rules, is concerned with Section 567 Health Department, Chapter 69, (On-Site Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Systems) or revisions thereof, of the Iowa Administrative Code.

The following are additions to the enforcement capabilities of Chapter 12 of the Iowa Administrative Code.


  1. No individual sewage disposal system will be constructed in a flood plain area without written authorization from the Clayton Sanitarian.
  2. All abandoned septic tanks and privy vaults shall be cleaned and filled to the surface of surrounding ground with materials approved by the health officer.
  3. When a public sanitary sewer becomes available, any building within four hundred (400) feet then served by an individual sewage disposal system that has failed shall connect to the public sanitary sewer within nine (9) months.
  4. For the purposes of this Ordinance, a system is deemed to have failed when sewage comes to the surface of the ground or backs up into the structure that is currently using the system.  Sewage is defined in (see Section 1, number 3).


  1. Any person, firm or corporation desiring a permit to construct, reconstruct, alter or repair a private sewage disposal system shall file with the Health and Zoning Department an application provided by the Clayton County Health Department stating therein the owner's correct house number, name of street or roadway, legal description of the land, and such other pertinent information as may be required.
  2. The health officer shall upon receiving the application for a permit, as soon as possible but not more than thirty (30) days thereafter, consider the application, negotiate with the applicant on changes deemed advisable and the kind and extent of construction to be engaged in by the applicant, and pass upon application as originally submitted or modified.
  3. In the event that the application is disapproved by the health officer, such disapproval shall be expressed in writing and shall point out wherein the proposed application is objectionable.  Upon disapproval, the applicant may submit a revised application together with revised plans and specifications, if requested, without payment of any additional fee.
  4. Upon approval of the application and payment of the fee, the health officer shall issue a permit for the construction, reconstruction, alteration or repair of the private sewage disposal system
  5. All applications for permits shall be accompanied by a soil porosity (percolation) test, conducted either by a county certified contractor or by an engineer who is registered within the State of Iowa, unless such soil porosity (percolation) test conducted either by a county certified contractor or is not required (see Section 1, number 3, or other local regulatory measures applicable thereto.
  6. All permits must be displayed during the construction period so as to be plainly visible from a public road or street.  This permit shall be signed by the health officer upon final inspection and approval.  To obtain final inspection and approval, applicants shall notify the proper administrative authority (health officer) orally by telephone, or in writing, between 8:00 a.m., and 4:30 p.m., during business days not less than forty-eight (48) hours prior to final installation.
  7. Permits are not transferable.
  8. Permits shall have validity for a maximum of twelve (12) months from the time of issuance, during which time the sewage disposal system shall be completed.
  9. In the event of an emergency situation, permission may be granted so that work may be initiated without first obtaining a permit; however, a permit must be obtained within a reasonable time after the passage of the critical period.  All emergency work must be done in conformity (see Section 1, number 3), or revisions thereof, of the Iowa Administrative Code, or other local regulatory measures applicable thereto, and shall be inspected by the health officer for full compliance.
  10. For the purposes of this Ordinance, an emergency situation determined by the Sanitarian is hereby defined as the backup of sewage into the structure that is currently using the individual sewage disposal system.
  11. For the purposes of this Ordinance, critical period is defined as that time during which the emergency situation first occurs up to the time that the existing system has been satisfactorily repaired.

SECTION 4. PERMIT FEES:  Permit Fees shall be set by the Board of Health.


  1. It shall be the duty of the health officer to enforce the provisions of (see Section 1, number 3), or other local regulatory measures applicable thereto.
  2. Inspections. Whenever the health officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a violation exists, the health officer may enter upon and make an inspection of the premises or property, and gather other necessary information, including water samples or other necessary specimens for the purpose of laboratory analysis, or introduce into the system necessary testing materials for tracing the source of any apparent sewage discharge to the surface of the ground.  The owner or occupant of the premises shall permit the health officer to enter such premises and make such inspection.  The health officer may make as many additionalll inspections of such premises as are deemed necessary.  The provisions of this section shall apply to all premises, building or dwellings, vacant or occupied.
  3. In the event the health officer shall be refused entry to any premises or property for the purpose of making an inspection, a complaint may be  made under oath to any court of competent jurisdiction, and the court shall thereupon issue its order authorizing the health officer to enter such place for the purpose of making such inspection.
  4. Peace officers, when called upon by the local Board of Health or its authorized representatives, shall assist in the enforcement of the rules and regulations and lawful orders of said Board of Health.
  5. No person shall interfere with members of the local Board of Health or its authorized agents or peace officers in the discharge or any duty imposed by law or the rules of the Iowa State Department of Health or the local Board of Health.
  6. Cost for abating violations. All expenses incurred by the Board of Health in proceeding to abate a violation may be billed to the responsible person by the health officer, or the Board of Health may certify the amount of said expense, together with a description of the property, to the County Auditor, who shall enter the same upon the tax books as costs for correction of a violation, and said amount shall be collected as other taxes.

SECTION 6. NOTICE:  Whenever a violation of any kind has been brought to the attention of the Board of Health, or the health officer finds that there appears to be a violation of any provision of the regulations, then in each instance the enforcement policies area as follows:

  1. A notice in writing shall be served upon the owner of the property upon whose land the violation occurs, in the same manner of service as provided by the Rules of Civil Procedure of the State of Iowa for commencement of action if the owner resides within Clayton County, Iowa.  Such notice shall contain an outline of remedial action which, if taken, will effect compliance with the provisions of (see Section 1, number 3), or revisions thereof, of the Iowa Administrative Code, or other local regulatory measures applicable thereto.
  2. In the event that the owner of the land does not reside within Clayton County, then said notice shall be served by certified mail with return receipt requested.
  3. A copy of the notice shall be served in the same manner on the party in possession of the premises or anyone having an interest in the land.
  4. In the event a written appeal has not been received within twenty (20) days from the date the notice is served, by any of the above parties, then the health officer is instructed to file an official information report alleging the violation of the rules and shall advise the County Attorney to follow the matter in Court with appropriate action.
  5. If a written appeal is received by the health officer, the Board of Health shall set up a date, time and place for hearing on the matter within twenty (20) days after receipt of the appeal notice. During such time an appeal is pending, all other action shall be abated.
  6. The Board of Health shall hear the appeal, and after reviewing the evidence, it may allow such additional period of time as is deemed necessary to bring about compliance with the the rules and regulations.
  7. In all cases where additional time has been given by the Board of Health for compliance with the rules and regulations, the health officer is authorized to give an extension to thirty (30) days.  No further extension than that just set forth shall be granted, unless approved by the Board of Health.

SECTION 7. HEARINGS:  In the event any person is aggrieved by any order made by the health officer, he may within twenty (20) days of the date of such order appeal to the Board of Health and in writing state his reasons for requesting such order be rescinded or modified.  The Board of Health shall review the actions of the health officer, and if reasonable grounds exist, shall modify, withdraw or order compliance with the the orders.  Appeal from any order of the Board of Health may be taken within twenty (20) days from the date of the order to the District Court in and for Clayton County, Iowa.

SECTION 8. PENALTY:  Any person violating this Ordinance or any provisions thereof shall be guilty of a simple misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof may be fined not more than one hundred dollars ($100.00) or imprisoned in jail for a period not to exceed thirty (30) days.  Each day that a violation occurs constitutes a separate offense.

SECTION 9. JURISDICTION:  The provisions of this Ordinance shall apply throughout Clayton County, Iowa.

SECTION 10. SEPARABILITY OF PROVISIONS:  If any section, paragraph, clause or provision of this Ordinance shall be held invalid, the invalidity of such section, paragraph, clause or provision shall not affect any of the remaining provisions of this Ordinance.

SECTION 11. ORDINANCE EFFECTIVE UPON PUBLICATION:  This Ordinance, being deemed urgent and necessary for the preservation of the public health, shall be in force and effect from and after its passage and publication as provided by law.

(Amended May 14, 2008)

You are here: Home Information Ordinances Individual Sewage Disposal System Ordinance