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 NPDES Section and the Water Supply Engineering Section are proposing changes to the Iowa Administrative Code regarding wastewater, drinking water, sludge, and private sewage disposal systems. The Draft Wastewater and Drinking Water Rules, 12/9/2019 contains the proposed rule changes, and the regulatory plan language supporting the changes. The draft is organized by Chapter, and there is a short summary of the reasons supporting each proposed change directly following each rule section. Please contact Courtney Cswercko at courtney.cswercko@dnr.iowa.gov or 515-725-8411 with any questions on the proposed rule changes.

A stakeholder meeting to discuss the proposed changes was held on December 19, 2019. Comments on the 12/19/2019 version of the proposed rules may be submitted by email at courtney.cswercko@dnr.iowa.gov or may be mailed to Courtney Cswercko, Iowa DNR, 502 East 9th St, Des Moines, IA 50319, until January 20, 2020.


General Permits: The NPDES Section is renewing General Permits 5 and 7 for Mining and Quarries and Pesticides, respectively. For more information on the renewals and rulemakings, please refer to the General Permit #5 and General Permit #7 webpages.



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.