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Posted June 8, 2009

Septic Tank Inspection Law

Septic Tank Inspections Effective July 1, 2009

Properties subject to the septic system inspection law must have their inspection completed and paperwork filled out if the closing date is after June 30, 2009.  Schedule these inspections sooner rather then later!  Sellers and Buyers may negotiate for both the inspection cost and for any repair or replacement costs. Note: if the system is inspected and it is found to be defective in anyway, it will need to meet current code even if the property transfers or not. 

The addendum has been created to attach to Offers for Real Estate. Note:  The law only applies to transfers of property containing one to four dwelling units, and there are many types of properties exempt from inspection, most of the exemptions are similar to the exemptions found in the seller disclosure requirements.  New exemptions are applicable for transfers which the consideration is $500 or less, intra family business organization transfers, and properties which will be razed or demolished.  Remember, systems pumped within three years may be exempt form pumping again, and properties inspected within two years by a certified inspector are exempt from inspection.

The DNR is currently creating forms to:

1. Verify/certify exempt properties,
2. Verify/certify if the property will be demolished or razed,
3. And a Time of Transfer Agreement Binding Acknowledgment for Future Inspection when weather or other conditions necessitate delay of the inspection.

The ground water hazard form has some septic information and compliance regarding the law, but more changes to this form could be forthcoming.  They also have a website with the names of certified inspectors, and   the Iowa Finance Authority has a program to offer low interest loans to assist in the costs of repair or replacement.  


Important Links

1.      Iowa Code regarding law

2.      Administrative rules enacted by the DNR

3.      Septic Tank Addendum *

4.      Certifications - Demolition Inspection Waiver*, Time of Transfer Inspection Report*, Binding Acknowledgement*

5.      Ground Water Hazard Statement*

6.      Ground Water Hazard Instruction Sheet*

*These forms are for REALTOR® members only and they are password protected.


DNR Contact Information

Any questions may be directed to:
Mr. Daniel Olson, R.S.
Environmental Specialist Senior
Onsite Wastewater Program
Iowa Department of Natural Resources
502 E. 9th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319-0034

Phone: 515-281-8263
Fax: 515-281-9985

email: daniel.olson@dnr.iowa.gov


Affordable Septic System replacement Available

According to Iowa law, all septic systems must have a secondary wastewater treatment system following the septic tank, regardless of when they were installed. An estimated 100,000 septic systems in Iowa are at substandard levels. Many landowners with those systems may not realize their septic systems are breaking the law!

If your septic system is inadequate or out-dated, and you live outside of city limits in a participating county not served by a public sewer, you may be eligible for the state of Iowa’s Onsite Wastewater Assistance Program (OSWAP). The program provides low-interest loans through a partnership with county sanitarians, participating local lenders, the Iowa Finance Authority and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Program Details:
  • Local banks originate the loans of at least $2,000 with a maximum term of 10 years.
  • The borrower will benefit from a low interest rate, not exceeding 3%.
  • All costs directly related to the repair, rehabilitation or replacement of an onsite treatment system are eligible, including all costs directly related to the design, permitting and construction of the onsite wastewater system. Costs for removal of existing structures, earth moving and any land purchases directly related to proper wastewater treatment are also eligible.

To take advantage of this low-interest loan program, contact your county sanitarian today. For more information on the program, contact Daniel Olson, Iowa DNR at daniel.olson@dnr.iowa.gov, 515-281-8263.