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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


Wastewater and Drinking Water Rule Changes: The Iowa Department of Natural Resources held a stakeholder meeting on Zoom to discuss several proposed changes to the Iowa Administrative Code regarding separation distances, wastewater, general permits, sludge, private sewage disposal systems, and operator certification. The Zoom meeting was held on February 10, 2021.

The Chapters included in the proposed rulemaking are 40, 41, 43, 49, 60, 62, 63, 64, 67, 69, and 81. The proposed changes are summarized below by Chapter.

  • Chapter 40 - change a definition to be consistent with Chapter 69.
  • Chapter 43 - add new language on water main separation distances and update the raw water sources and underground water storage facilities separation distances table.
  • Chapter 49 - update the private well separation distances table.
  • 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; and rescind the table for preservation techniques, containers and holding times and replace it with a reference to the same table in the CFR.
  • 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).
  • Chapter 67 - update sewage sludge classifications, terms, land application pathogen reduction methods, and testing methods and revise the sewage sludge annual reporting rules to be consistent with the CFR.
  • Chapter 69 - update the private sewage disposal systems separation distances table and change the maintenance contract language for specific onsite systems to accord with proposed Senate File 511.
  • Chapter 81 - revise the Wastewater Treatment Plant Classifications table by adding a category for new technologies, adding a lower level certification classification to serve extremely small communities, and removing an obsolete classification and clarify the requirements for transient noncommunity water systems.

Please use the following links to view the draft rule documents, the meeting presentation, and a transcript of the meeting:

Draft Notice of Intended Action (NOIA) (1/20/2021)

Draft Jobs Impact Statement (JIS) and Fiscal Impact Statement (FIS) (1/20/2021)

Supporting Document for Permit Monitoring Frequency Determination, Clean Copy (1/8/2021)

Supporting Document for Permit Monitoring Frequency Determination, Changes Copy (1/8/2021)

Presentation from 2-10-2021 Proposed WW Omnibus Rules Meeting

Transcript of 2-10-2021 Proposed WW Omnibus Rules Meeting

Written comments on the draft NOIA, JIS and FIS, and the draft Supporting Document may be submitted to courtney.cswercko@dnr.iowa.gov or may be mailed to Courtney Cswercko, Iowa DNR, 502 East 9th St, Des Moines, IA 50319, until February 17, 2020. Please contact Courtney Cswercko with any questions on the proposed 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.