Prior to construction or re-construction of an on-site wastewater treatment and disposal system (septics), the owner is required to obtain a permit from the Environmental Health Office. The size of a system is determined by State Code based on factors such as soil type and the number of bedrooms in the house. In all cases a soil test known as a percolation test is needed to determine the length of drainfield. Tank size is determined by the number of bedrooms. All systems must receive prior approval and inspection before the system is completely installed.
On-Site wastewater treatment and disposal systems are a very common treatment option in the United States. About one-fourth of the total population is served by onsite wastewater systems, and about one-third of new construction employs this type of treatment. A conservative estimate is that anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of onsite systems are failing annually. Nationwide, this represents over 2.5 million malfunctions, resulting in more then 700 million gallons of improperly treated wastewater being discharged each day. Clean Water Act goals are not being met partly because of improperly operating onsite wastewater systems. New technologies are being applied to onsite systems, resulting in higher treatment levels, greater reliability, and more flexibility than ever before. The EPA has finally conceded that septic systems are viable, permanent solutions to wastewater treatment and disposal. Key to the success of a septic system is the analysis before installation and proper care of the system once in place. Both Carroll and Crawford Counties have enacted a Septic Contractor License program in an attempt to better educate those contractors installing systems, and to provide an enforcement tool in the event a contractor refuses to follow the regulations pertaining to septics.
Carroll County Ordinance #3 Environmental Health
Iowa DNR Wastewater/Septic Web Site
EPA Small and Rural Wastewater Systems
National On-Site Wastewater Recycling Association
University of Wisconsin Small Scale Wastewater Management Project
National Small Flows Clearing House