The Butler County Environmental Health (EH) Specialist is responsible for issuing well and septic permits for the County; performing water tests for private well owners; overseeing well reconstructions and pluggings in accordance with the State’s Grants to Counties program; and more recently pool, tanning and tattoo inspections. She also does radon awareness education with the public and investigates nuisance complaints relating to environmental health.
Private Sewage Disposal (Septic) Systems
Any building requiring a sewer system that is not within 200 feet of a public sewer connection must install a private sewage disposal system in accordance with Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 567-69. The private sewage disposal system must be installed by a licensed and certified septic installer and the property owner or septic installer must apply for a private sewage disposal permit by filling out the below application and submitting that to the EH Specialist along with the appropriate permit fee. The permit fee is currently $250.00 per system.
Prior to installation, the EH Specialist will need to meet with the septic installer to perform an initial site evaluation. The purpose of the initial site evaluation is to take a look at the lot to make sure it is big enough for a conventional system, ensure that the proposed location of the system meets all of the required setbacks, and dig a 6 foot test hole to determine type of soil and evidence of limiting layers such as water table and limerock which in turn determines whether a leach field can be utilized and how big the leach field must be. If soil conditions are questionable, the EH Specialist may require that a perc test be done. Upon installation, the EH Specialist will perform an inspection and make a diagram of the system which will be sent to the property owner upon completion.
A property owner may request a variance from state and local regulations through the Butler County Board of Health. A Request for Variance can be found below and the EH Specialist can provide additional information on what process the property owner would need to take.
There is a low interest loan offered by the State Revolving Fund that is available for the replacement of failing and illegally discharging systems. This loan is called the OSWAP loan and a property owner would need to apply for it through their lender like any other loan. The loan is available at a 3% interest rate for a maximum period of 10 years and the lender must participate in this program in order to take advantage of this loan. This loan has recently been made available to properties within city limits if a public sewer connection is not available.
The USDA also has grants available for the replacement of septic systems.
Time of Transfer
In 2009, the Iowa DNR implemented the time of transfer inspection law that requires all buildings served (or required to be served) by a private sewage disposal system to undergo an inspection of the system before it can be transferred. This inspection must be performed by a licensed time of transfer inspector. If the building has a septic system that illegally discharges to a ditch, farm tile, creek or any other surface discharge or is otherwise failing to properly treat the wastewater, the system must be replaced. This can be done by the seller prior to transferring the building or the buyer can agree to take on that responsibility. If the buyer agrees to replace the system, they will need to sign an agreement with the EH Specialist stating that they agree to replace the system by a certain date. If the system is found to be working properly, the system does not need to be brought up to current code standards although the EH Specialist or time of transfer inspector may make recommendations to prolong the life of the system or make maintaining the system easier.
Septic State & Local Regulations
IAC Chapter 567-69: Private Septic System Regulations
IAC Chapter 567-68: Septic Tank Cleaners (Pumpers)
Butler County Ordinance #9
Amendment to Butler County Ordinance #9
Maintenance & Troubleshooting
Dos & Don’ts – General Septic System Guidelines
OSWAP Loan Brochure
OSWAP Approval Form
OSWAP Lender Packet
USDA Rural Development Grant: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/HAD-Direct_Housing_Loans.html
DNR Private Septic Systems: http://www.iowadnr.gov/Environmental-Protection/Water-Quality/Private-Septic-Systems
Iowa Onsite Wastewater Association:http://www.iowwa.com/Pages/Home
Contractor License & Certification
In order to install private sewage disposal systems in Butler County, the contractor must hold the CIOWTS-Basic certification credential and a Butler County septic installer license. The septic installer license fee is $25.00 and it is due to the Butler County EH Specialist by July 1st of each year. Upon receiving the license fee, the EH Specialist will ensure that the contractor is still current with his or her CIOWTS credential before issuing a license. In order to obtain the CIOWTS credential, the contractor must fill out the below CIOWTS application and submit that to IOWWA as specified in the application. The contractor can either choose to take the credential exam online or attend the two day installer overview class followed by exam that is offered by IOWWA each year. Once the contractor has passed the exam and become certified, they are certified for a period of two years. During that two year period of time they need to get at least 12 continuing education hours and at the end of that two year period of time they will receive a renewal invoice from IOWWA. The credential must be renewed and all continuing education hours must be obtained within 60 days of the credential expiring or they will be required to re-take the exam in order to become re-certified.
Well drillers are also required to be licensed in Butler County prior to drilling new private water wells. The well driller license fee is $25.00 and it is due to the Butler County EH Specialist by July 1st of each year. Upon receiving the license fee, the EH Specialist will ensure that the contractor is certified with the Department of Natural Resources before issuing a license.
Upcoming Classes & Exams: http://www.iowwa.com/Pages/Certification
IOWWA CE Credit Search: http://www.iowwa.com/Pages/CEUSearch
Continuing Education Opportunities: http://www.iowwa.com/Pages/Trainings and http://www.wastewatertraining.com/pages/onsite-wastewater-workshops
Any person wishing to drill a private water well in Butler County must obtain a well permit from the Butler County EH Specialist. The well must be drilled by a licensed well driller who is certified with the Iowa DNR and the property owner or well driller must apply for a well permit by filling out the below application and submitting that to the EH Specialist along with the appropriate permit fee. The permit fee is currently $250.00. The well driller must also meet with the EH Specialist for an initial site visit to make sure all of the proper setbacks are being met and the proposed location of the well is acceptable. During construction, the well driller will contact the EH Specialist when they are ready to grout the well. Once the well is completed, the property owner should contact the EH Specialist to have the well tested within 30 days of construction. The water test is paid for with the Grants to Counties program, so there is no cost to the well owner. In addition to testing the new well, if the old or existing well will no longer be used, it is required to be plugged within 90 days of abandoning same. Please see Grants to Counties section below for more information on well testing and abandoned wells.
Geothermal wells must also be permitted by the Butler County EH Specialist if they are greater than 20 ft. deep. If they are greater than 20 ft. deep and require a well permit, a single permit is required regardless of how many wells are being drilled for the system. The process for permitting geothermal wells is the same as private water wells.
Irrigation wells or wells withdrawing at least 25,000 gals of water in a 24 hour period of time not only need a well permit from Butler County but they also need a Water Use Permit from the Iowa DNR. When applying for a well permit from Butler County, you will also need to provide a copy of the Water Use Permit Application before a well permit will be issued. The property owner should be aware that in the event the Iowa DNR does not issue the Water Use Permit, the irrigation well cannot be used. Therefore if it is drilled prior to obtaining the DNR Water Use Permit, the property owner may be taking a huge financial risk.
Public Water Supply Wells
A public water supply well is any well that has at least 15 service connections or regularly serves an average of at least 25 individuals daily at least 60 days of the year. Public water supply wells must be permitted by the Iowa DNR and not the County and all public water supply wells must undergo regular testing to ensure they meet the Safe Water Drinking Act.
Well State & Local Regulations
IAC Chapter 567-49: Nonpublic Water Supply Wells
IAC Chapter 567-38: Private Water Well Construction Permits
IAC Chapter 567-82: Well Contractor Certification
Butler County Ordinance #10
DNR Private Well Program: http://www.iowadnr.gov/InsideDNR/RegulatoryWater/PrivateWellProgram.aspx
DNR Water Supply Section – Irrigation Wells: http://www.iowadnr.gov/InsideDNR/RegulatoryWater/WaterSupplyEngineering/WaterAllocationUse.aspx
Well Contractor Certification & Contractor Search:
Grants to Counties (Water Testing, Abandoned Wells & Well Renovations)
With the Grants to Counties program Butler County is able to test private water wells for total coliform bacteria, e. coli, and nitrates at no cost to the well owner. Total arsenic and arsenic speciation are also now covered by the Grants to Counties program as a free test. Please see Arsenic below for additional information. The EH Specialist does water testing Monday-Wednesday mornings and if you are interested in having your well tested, please contact the EH Specialist by phone or email and she will schedule a time to come out. Once she collects the water sample, she sends it to the State Hygienic Laboratory to be analyzed and the test results usually come back within 5 days.
There are also additional contaminants that the EH Specialist can test for, however, the cost for this testing would need to be paid for by the well owner. Below is a list of the most common contaminants that we test for and what the test would cost. If a well owner is interested in testing for any of these additional contaminants, the EH Specialist can order the appropriate test kit upon request.
Arsenic is an element that occurs naturally in sulfide minerals in soil and bedrock formations and has been deposited in the soil and bedrock layers over millions of years. Traces of arsenic are found in groundwater, lakes, rivers, and ocean water. Foods like fruits, vegetables and seafood can contain trace amounts of arsenic. Since arsenic is a natural part of our environment, everyone is exposed to small amounts. Arsenic in ground water from private wells is not regulated by any federal or state agency and there are no mandatory testing requirements.
While treatment for private wells is not required, it is strongly encouraged that well owners consider treatment or a different source for their drinking water if arsenic content in their well is above 0.010 mg/L or 10 parts per billion. People who are exposed to arsenic leverls significantly above this standard over a period of years can experience a variety of health problems. As mentioned above, total arsenic and arsenic speciation can be tested at no cost to the well owner and is done at the same time as the total coliform bacteria, e. coli, and nitrate testing listed above.
Any well that is no longer being used is required to be plugged. With the Grants to Counties program, Butler County is able to reimburse up to $500.00 for each well that is plugged. The well must either be plugged by a licensed plumber or well driller, or by the well owner only under the supervision of the EH Specialist. In order to be reimbursed for a well plugging, the plumber will need to fill out an Abandoned Well Record and submit that to the County EH Specialist along with a copy of their invoice. If the well owner is plugging their own well, they must provide a copy of their supply receipt and the EH Specialist will take care of filling out the Abandoned Well Record. Once the EH Specialist has received an Abandoned Well Record and invoice, she will submit a claim for reimbursement. The well owner will be reimbursed directly for this service.
Butler County is also able to reimburse up to $1000.00 for well renovations. The most common well renovation is bringing a well casing above grade from a well pit and moving the pressure tank into the house, completely eliminating the well pit. This work must be done by a licensed plumber. Just like with well pluggings, the plumber must fill out a Well Rehabilitation Record and submit that to the EH Specialist along with a copy of their invoice and the EH Specialist will submit a claim for reimbursement.
DNR Water Testing: http://www.iowadnr.gov/InsideDNR/RegulatoryWater/PrivateWellProgram/PrivateWellTesting.aspx
State Hygienic Laboratory: http://www.shl.uiowa.edu/
Iowa Department of Public Health Grants to Counties: https://idph.iowa.gov/eh/grants.asp
Pools, Tanning & Tattoo Facilities
All pool, tanning & tattoo facilities must be licensed with the Iowa Department of Public Health and the license must renewed each year. Once licensed, these establishments must be inspected at least once a year and on an as needed basis. Butler County holds the contract to inspect all of these establishments located in Butler County. See links below for specific requirements.
Iowa Department of Public Health Pools: https://idph.iowa.gov/SwimmingPoolsAndSpas/
Iowa Department of Public Health Tanning: https://idph.iowa.gov/Tanning/
Iowa Department of Public Health Tattoo: https://idph.iowa.gov/Tattoo/
Radon is a naturally occurring gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium in the soil. It seeps into your home through cracks and crevices in your basement foundation and crawl spaces. It is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. Radon is the 1st leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers, and 2nd leading cause overall. It is estimated that 399 Iowans die each year from Rdon exposure. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that up to 70% of Iowa homes have elevated radon levels.
Testing with as easy to use, inexpensive test kit is the only way to find out if have Radon in your home. Radon test kits can now be purchased from the Butler County EH Specialist for $6.00 a piece. Simply stop in the office to get a kit or fill out the test kit form below.
Iowa Department of Public Health Radon: https://idph.iowa.gov/radon
American Lung Association Radon: http://www.lung.org/healthy-air/home/resources/radon.html
AIR Coalition: https://idph.iowa.gov/radonAIR.aspx