Private Septic Systems
As COVID-19 continues to impact us locally, we will be closing all Public Health Madison & Dane County offices to the public effective Thursday, March 19, 2020.
Although this decision was not arrived at easily, it is a decision that we needed to make. We are prioritizing preserving the health and safety of our staff and clients while continuing to maintain our ability to provide essential services, including our response to COVID-19.
We will continue providing services through alternate avenues, detailed below, but at this time we are reducing our direct contact with the public.
The Well and Septic program will continue regular services. Specifically:
- Services will continued in the field while maintaining social distancing.
- Permits will only be received via mail or online.
- Response to program related questions will be handled via phone and e-mail.
We have received several questions from both property owners and professionals about our routine septic maintenance program during this current public health emergency. Septic maintenance is possibly even more essential now with people spending more time in their homes. This maintenance can be completed without any personal contact with the service provider.
Proper design, installation and maintenance of septic systems protect our ground and surface waters, and reduce the spread of disease. Our sanitarians review septic designs, issue permits, inspect system construction, and oversee required septic inspections and maintenance.
- Sanitary Permits
- Septic System Record Look-Up
- Septic System Maintenance
- Abandoning A Septic System
We issue sanitary permits to assure that private septic systems are installed in suitable soils and are properly located and sized so that waste does not cause a public health hazard.
A Sanitary Permit is needed to:
- Install a new or replacement private septic system
- Repair, extend, or enlarge an existing private septic system
- Reconnect to an existing private septic system
- Otherwise modify an existing private septic system
Steps to Getting a Sanitary Permit
- Have a soil evaluation done by contracting with a licensed certified soil tester.
- Get a system design from a licensed professional such as a Master Plumber, Master Plumber Restricted, or a Certified Designer. In some cases a professional engineer may also have the credentials necessary to design a septic system.
- Have a Master Plumber or Master Plumber Restricted submit your Sanitary Permit Application to Public Health - Madison & Dane County. For information about fees, see Well & Septic Program Fee Schedule. If your proposed system requires plan review, your designer will need to complete the Plan Review Application and submit to our office with the sanitary permit application or to WI DSPS for review.
- Our sanitarian will review your plans and permit application, and then issue a plan approval or a sanitary permit as appropriate.
Look up an active private septic system in Dane County.
- In the search screen that comes up, you can search by the address or the parcel number. Do not try to search on both at the same time.
- If you search by address, enter the street number in the “Street No.” field, then Enter the first 2 or three letters of the street name in the “Street Name” field (i.e. “Sta” for State Highway 32 or “Bai” for Bailey Rd). Do not enter direction, street type, unit type, unit no., city, state, zip, or parcel.
- If you search by parcel number, enter the 12-digit parcel number without dashes (i.e. “090737520001” for 0907- 375-2000-1), do not fill in any other fields.
- Your search results will appear at the bottom of the screen. You may have to scroll down to see your results.
- In the list of results, the septic system ID or record number will be bold and underlined. Click on the septic system ID to get more information If multiple records are listed, click on each record to find the correct system.
- Detailed Instructions for Looking Up Septic System Records
All septic systems in Dane County must be inspected and serviced on a regular basis to make sure that they are operating correctly. This prevents septic system failures or helps to identify them as quickly as possible.
- Private septic system owners are responsible for getting their system inspection and maintenance completed and making sure that this information is reported to Public Health. Most septic pumpers are able to submit the maintenance report for their customers over the internet. Make sure you talk to them about it and provide the notice you received to them. Septic pumpers only report service after receiving payment. If your report has not yet been submitted, please check with the pumper to make sure they have received your payment.
- Most septic systems require service every three years. Certain types of septic systems need service on a more frequent basis to keep filters clean or ensure mechanical systems are operating correctly. If you have questions, check with your septic pumper or contact our office at (608) 242-6515 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The septic maintenance fee is $9.54 per year per septic system and is billed on your property tax bill. Tax exempt properties will receive a document that looks like a property tax bill but will only have the private maintenance fee on the bill.
- If you are experiencing problems with your system, your system may be starting to fail. Work with a professional to determine how to fix the problem. If your system is failing, funding may be available through the Wisconsin Fund Program. Please note that the Wisconsin Fund Program is scheduled to sunset in June 2021. To qualify for funding, your system must be replaced by December 31, 2019.
Below are some forms that you may need to report septic system inspection and maintenance.
Public Health Madison & Dane County enforces Dane County's septic inspection and maintenance rules by:
- Issuing notices to private septic system owners reminding them when they are due to submit their maintenance report.
- Reviewing maintenance and pumping reports to assure systems are operating properly.
- Taking enforcement action to correct any problems reported on maintenance reports or to ensure compliance with reporting requirements. Enforcement action may include issuance of orders and citations, investigation of property condition and ownership, and referral to Dane County Corporation Counsel for further legal action.
- Ensuring that septic systems that no longer function properly or meet state or local regulations are abandoned properly.
Dane County residents are required to report the abandonment of their septic system to Public Health. Prompt notification of a septic system abandonment is helpful in preventing a private septic maintenance fee from being charged in years following the system abandonment. To find out if your system abandonment has been reported, please email email@example.com or call (608) 242-6515.
- Licensed Septage Hauling Businesses-County Dane, WI Department of Natural Resources
- Septic Smart: Learn the Ins and Outs of Your Septic System, US Environmental Protection Agency