Septic System Information

Dubuque County Health Department Septic System Information
Well & Septic Permits and Information
Time of Transfer Program

Frequently Asked Questions about Connecting to the City Sanitary Sewer System
Why do I have to connect to the City sewer system?
Factors such as age of septic system, lot size, and soil conditions affect the quality of wastewater treatment. Code-compliant permitted septic systems can operate for 15 years or until they fail, whichever occurs first. Additionally, use of new technologies has made it possible to connect homes to sanitary sewer which in the past were not possible. Finally, State of Iowa septic regulations have changed considerably as a result of better understanding of how septic systems work and new technologies becoming available.

These are some of the reasons why in December of 1994, the City Council directed staff to enforce connection to sanitary sewers for properties that are within 200 feet of public mains.

Where do I start?
Obtain three bids from a plumbing or excavating contractor to connect your property to the City sanitary sewer and abandon your septic tank. If this price is less than 15% of the assessed value of your property, as shown in the records of the City Assessor, choose the contractor that you think will do the best job. You may ask the contractors for references to assist you in your decision.

The Bids should include the following:
· The cost for a plumbing contractor
· The cost for all excavation and backfilling operations
· The cost for all materials to completely install the new lateral and connect it to the city sanitary sewer
· Street pavement repair
· Plumbing and excavating permits
· Septic tank abandonment

If the bids are greater than 15% of the current assessed value as shown in the records of the City Assessor, contact Todd Irwin at the City of Dubuque, Engineering Department, 589-4270. You may be eligible for financial assistance with your project.

How much should I expect to pay to connect to the City sanitary sewer?
Several cost components are involved in connecting to the City sanitary sewer and every situation is different. The cost will be based on the difficulty and length of your new sewer lateral. The following are brief descriptions of the different cost components that you may expect to see on your project:
Connection Charge
o The connection charge is a fee paid to the City prior to the start of the project. The fee is based on the amount of front footage that your property has and the new lateral length. Your connection charge and a map are enclosed.

Plumber
o A licensed plumber must obtain a plumbing permit prior to starting your project. The permit cost should be included in the plumber’s bid. The plumber’s bid should also include all pipe, pipe fittings, labor and equipment necessary to completely install your new lateral and connect it to the City sanitary sewer.

Excavation
o This is a cost that should also be included in the plumber’s bid. The excavator will need to obtain an excavation permit if work will be done within the City street right of way. The excavation price should cover all costs associated with excavating, backfilling, surface restoration and seeding.

Septic Tank Abandonment
The septic tank may either be completely removed or the tank can be pumped and the excavator can cave in the sides and backfill the area.

Is financial assistance is available?
The City has several financial assistance programs that may be available for you. One of the programs is for income-qualifying individuals, while another program is based on a maximum project cost (15% rule).

15% Rule
The City of Dubuque has established a maximum project cost cap of 15% of the current City Assessor property valuation. This means that the City may pay for any project costs over this cap and waive all or part of the connection charge. The City does limit it’s exposure to non-sewer costs such as landscaping, retaining walls, driveways, etc. These costs may not exceed 5% of the total project cost.

15% Rule Procedure
1) Contact the City Assessor to find out your current property valuation. If your low bid is greater than 15% of your current property valuation, contact Todd Irwin at the City of Dubuque, Engineering Division, 589-4270.

2) Submit three bids, for your sewer connection project to the Engineering Department for review. If it is determined that the construction costs do exceed 15% of your current property valuation, the Engineering Department will design, secure bids, and administer your project for you. This is done to help eliminate any inconsistencies in the bids.
3) Once the contract for your sewer connection project is awarded to the lowest bidder, you will need to provide the Engineering Department with a cashiers check in the amount of 15% of the current City Assessor property valuation amount. If there are non-sewer costs that exceed the 5% maximum, the amount exceeding the maximum will need to be added to the cashiers check or you may choose to do that portion of the work yourself.

4) As soon as the Engineering Department receives the check the contractor will be given notice to start.

· Income qualifying financial assistance.
The Housing and Community Development Department has limited funds available for owner-occupied low and moderate income qualifying property owners. This maximum $4500 assistance is a 5-year forgivable loan for the owner's principle place of residence. For more information call 589-4239.

Who do I need to contact if I have Questions?
Health Services Department: 589-4181, Tim Link or Mary Rose Corrigan
Engineering Department: 589-4270, Tom Freund
Housing & Community Development: 589-4239, Joleen Patterson

MORE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT SEPTIC SYSTEM INSTALLATION.

Can I install a private on-site septic treatment and disposal system within the city of Dubuque?

Homes where the property line is less than or equal to 200 feet to a public sanitary sewer must connect to the City sanitary sewer. (City of Dubuque Code of Ordinances Section 44-14) If public sewer is not available, all requirement for an on-site septic system mentioned below must be met.

What other requirements must my private on-site sewage treatment and disposal system meet?

All private sewage treatment and disposal systems must comply with Chapter 69 of the Iowa Administrative Code governing private on-site sewage treatment and disposal systems. (City of Dubuque Code of Ordinances Section 44-51) Also, the lot on which the private sewage treatment and disposal system will potentially be installed on must be greater than 15,000 square feet. (City of Dubuque Code of Ordinances Section 44-53)

How do I obtain a private sewage treatment and disposal system construction permit?

The permit must be applied for from the City of Dubuque Health Services Department. Also, plans must be submitted by a professional engineer and design and buildout of the private sewage treatment and disposal system must comply with site criteria as found in Chapter 69 of the Iowa Administrative Code.

What happens when sewer becomes available within 200 feet of my property line?

When the City sanitary sewer is installed within 200 feet of your property line, the homeowner will be notified and a sewer connection will be required within 365 days. (City of Dubuque Code of Ordinances Section 44-51c)

I have just installed a new septic system which meets City and State requirements. How long will I be able to utilize my private on-site sewage treatment and disposal system?

As long as the private sewage treatment and disposal system is properly functioning, you will be able to operate this system for 15 years. (City of Dubuque Code of Ordinances 44-55)

If you have further questions regarding private on-site sewage treatment and disposal systems, feel free to call the City of Dubuque Health Services Department at (563) 589-4181.