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

General Permits: The NPDES Section is renewing General Permit #6 for Well Construction Activities. For more information on the renewal and rulemaking, please refer to the General Permit #6 webpage.

Past NPDES Rulemaking Actions

General permits 8 & 9:

  • General Permit 8 for Hydrostatic Testing, Tank Ballasting, and Water Lines, and General Permit #9 for Dewatering and Residential Geothermal Systems became effective on July 1, 2018. The final rules for GPs 8 and 9 were published in the Iowa Administrative Bulletin as ARC 3786C on May 9, 2018.  For more information, please see the NPDES General Permits webpage.

Wastewater Cleanup Rulemaking:

  • The Wastewater Cleanup Rule became effective on May 18, 2016.   The Final Rule was published in the Iowa Administrative Bulletin as ARC 2482C April 13, 2016.  Please use the following link to view the published rule: ARC 2482C, Final Wastewater Cleanup Rule
  • The following updates were made by the final Wastewater Cleanup Rule:
    • updated federal code references (including the reference regarding wastewater testing procedures),
    • changed rule language to accord with federal regulations,
    • removed obsolete rule language and citations,
    • extended and clarified bypass reporting timelines,
    • removed operational monitoring requirements,
    • removed 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. For more information regarding the disadvantaged community rule and on how to qualify for disadvantaged status, please contact Courtney Cswercko at courtney.cswercko@dnr.iowa.gov.

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 - presentation of NOIA to the EPC - NOIA publication in the IAB - ARRC review of NOIA - public comment period - responsiveness summary prepared - presentation of Final Rule 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.