Wastewater and NPDES Rules

General Information about Iowa's Wastewater and NPDES Rules

The Iowa Administrative Code (IAC) contains several chapters regulating the direct discharge of wastewater to waters of the state. The chapters containing most of the wastewater permit regulations are as follows:

Rules regarding NPDES permits for Animal Feeding Operations (Chapter 65) can be found on the Animal Feeding Operations page. Rules regarding onsite (private) wastewater systems (Chapters 68, 69, and 93) can be found on the Private Septic Systems page. The Water Quality Standards (Chapter 61) can be found on the Water Quality Standards page.

The chapters above are regularly updated through the state's rulemaking process. Please refer to the Current NPDES Rulemaking Actions section below for more information on any proposed rule changes.

Current NPDES Rulemaking Actions

Proposed Renewal of NPDES General Permit Nos. 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9:

The NPDES Section is proposing a rule change to Chapter 64 of the Iowa Administrative Code that will renew five of Iowa’s general permits for wastewater discharges. These general permits cover certain wastewater discharges from mining and processing facilities (GP5), well construction activities (GP6), pesticide applications (GP7), hydrostatic testing, tank ballasting, and water lines (GP8), and dewatering activities and household geothermal systems (GP9). GP8 and GP9 are proposed to be renewed because these permits will expire on June 30, 2023. Proposed changes to these two general permits will clarify existing permit requirements and address needs identified during the initial permit term. GP5, GP6, and GP7 are proposed to be renewed at the same time in order to align the effective dates for all five general permits so that future renewal rule makings for these five permits can be combined. Minimal changes are proposed for these three general permits.

A stakeholder meeting to discuss the proposed rule change was held on September 14, 2021.  The next step is for the NPDES Section to seek preclearance of the rule from the Governor's Office and then approval from the Environmental Protection Commission to begin formal rule making.

Please use the following links to view the draft permit changes:

Questions about the proposed rulemaking can be directed by phone or email to David Schelling at 515-217-0875 or David.Schelling@dnr.iowa.gov.

Wastewater Cleanup Rule Changes:

The NPDES Section is proposing to update several portions of the wastewater rules. The Chapters included in the proposed rulemaking are 60, 61, 62, 63, and 64. The proposed changes are summarized below by Chapter.

  • Chapter 60 - add and update definitions, remove old forms, and add language on electronic form submittal.
  • Chapter 62 - update date reference for Federal effluent and pretreatment standards in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and add a reference to the new federal dental effluent limitation guidelines.
  • Chapter 63 - add CFR references for analytical testing methods; clarify requirements for alternative test procedures and method modifications; update the rule-referenced Supporting Document for Permit Monitoring Frequency Determination; update WET testing guidelines; add new language on electronic reporting requirements and waivers; rescind the monitoring table for land application systems; rescind the table for preservation techniques, containers and holding times and replace it with a reference to the same table in the CFR, and move the language regarding monitoring well sampling procedures in Table VI to a new rule in Chapter 63.
  • Chapter 64 - simplify and clarify the general permit language; modify language regarding the operation permit period; update public notice and public hearing language; update and revise the disadvantaged community eligibility requirements; add specific fee amounts from Iowa Code 455B.197; and add new language about the Nutrient Reduction Exchange (NRE).

The proposed rules will be presented to the Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) of the Iowa DNR as a Notice of Intended Action at their meeting on Tuesday, October 19, 2021.  The Client Contact meeting will be on Thursday, October 14, at 1:00 p.m. For more information on the meetings and to see the EPC Meeting Packet and Agenda, please see the EPC webpage.

Please contact Courtney Cswercko at courtney.cswercko@dnr.iowa.gov with any questions on the proposed wastewater cleanup rule changes.

Past NPDES Rulemaking Actions

Wastewater Cleanup Rulemaking: The Wastewater Cleanup Rule became effective on May 18, 2016. Please use the following link to view the published rule: ARC 2482C, Final Wastewater Cleanup Rule. The following changes were made by the final Wastewater Cleanup Rule:

  • updated federal code references and changed rule language to accord with federal regulations,
  • extended and clarified bypass reporting timelines,
  • removed operational monitoring requirements and extraneous public notice requirements for permittees,
  • clarified language on permit reissuance, and
  • added a new subrule to allow DNR to issue fee refunds without variances.

Disadvantaged Community Rule: The disadvantaged community rule proposed in 2012 became effective on January 16, 2013. This rule implements Iowa Code 455B.199B, as modified by Senate File 407 (SF407). The code section and senate file establish criteria that DNR must use to determine if ratepayers or a community will experience substantial and widespread economic and social impact and qualify as disadvantaged as a result of complying with wastewater regulations. Please see the Rural Community Sewers page for more information on the disadvantaged community rule.

Summary of Rulemaking Procedures:

When the NPDES Section is considering a change to the wastewater rules, a draft rule package is developed and a public meeting is scheduled to gather initial stakeholder input on the draft rules. After the initial stakeholder comments are incorporated into the draft rules, the NPDES Section prepares an internal rulemaking package for review by DNR Legal staff and the Governor's Office. Once DNR Legal staff and the Governor's office have reviewed and approved the proposed rule, the rulemaking package is presented to the Iowa DNR Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) for approval as a Notice of Intended Action. If approved by the EPC, it is published in the Iowa Administrative Bulletin (IAB) as a Notice of Intended Action (NOIA). Once the NOIA is published, the rule is discussed at the next legislative Administrative Rules Review Committee (ARRC) meeting. After a public comment period in which hearings are held and comments are accepted, the proposed rule is presented to the EPC for approval as a Final Rule. If a final rule is approved by the EPC, after consideration of public comments, it is published in the Administrative Bulletin as a Final Rule. The final rule will be presented to the ARRC after it is published and before it becomes effective. Please see the summary steps below:

Draft rule package prepared - Public meeting on draft rule - Comments incorporated into draft rule - DNR Legal review - Governor's Office review - NOIA presented to the EPC - NOIA publication in the IAB - ARRC review of NOIA - Public comment period - Responsiveness summary prepared - Final Rule presented to EPC - Final Rule publication in the IAB - ARRC review of Final Rule - Final Rule becomes effective

For more information regarding the rulemaking procedure and the wastewater rules, please contact Eric Wiklund at 515-725-0313 or eric.wiklund@dnr.iowa.gov or Courtney Cswercko at 515-725-8411 or courtney.cswercko@dnr.iowa.gov.