Failing Systems

A failing system is any private sewage treatment system which, for any reason, does not function as designed or as prescribed by the Johnson County Environmental Sanitary Code.

What Are the Signs of Trouble?

  • Foul odors in your home or yard tell you that your system is not working well.
  • Slow or backed up drains may be caused by a clog in the house pipes, septic tank, soil absorption field or roof vent for your sewer line.
  • Wet spongy ground or lush plant growth may indicate a leaky septic tank or failing soil absorption field.
  • Repeated intestinal illnesses in your family may occur if your water is contaminated by poorly treated wastewater. Have your drinking water tested annually for coliform bacteria and nitrates (for water wells or other private drinking source).
  • Algal blooms and excessive weed growth in nearby ponds or lakes can be caused by poorly treated wastewater discharging from septic systems.

Report a septic system issue or failing system

Repair and Corrections

Any private sewage treatment system that is being repaired or replaced shall have plans and specifications submitted to and reviewed by the Environment Division of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE). No repairs or corrections shall be performed without a permit and inspection as required by the Code. All repairs/replacements must be performed by an installer who has a current license with JCDHE. 

List of Licensed Installers

What's Involved?

The county becomes aware of private systems in need of repair when the homeowner calls with concerns about their system, or when a concerned citizen calls and reports the problem confidentially. Either way, once the report is received, an initial visit is made to assess the situation and to gather all pertinent information.

Once it is determined that a repair or replacement of the system is necessary, the homeowner will need to apply and pay for a soil profile. A letter will follow with recommendations regarding the repair/replacement. Before the repair or replacement begins, the homeowner will need to apply for a permit and a licensed installer must submit a drawing of the proposed replacement or repair. The homeowner will be notified when the permit is ready to be issued.

There is a fee for the permit. Both a final construction and final grade inspection will must be completed and approved by JCDHE. Applicable fees can be found on the Forms and Fees page.

Why All the Fuss?

The mission of the Environment Division is to assist in the protection of the health, welfare and environment of the community through programs and activities that monitor, control and/or eliminate harmful and potentially harmful environmental factors. Sewage is potentially very harmful if it is not treated properly.