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Welcome to Jo Daviess County, Illinois

Private Sewage Disposal

The purpose of the private sewage disposal program is to prevent disease and nuisances, and protect the environment by eliminating improperly treated sewage.

The department staff reviews plans, issues permits and inspects the construction of new and replacement private septic systems; performs septic evaluations for real estate transactions.  Staff also license sewage pumping contractors and inspect their equipment; license sewage installation contractors; review subdivision plans for septic system development; investigate complaints of improper disposal of sewage or improper operation of septic systems.

Step by Step Process

All septic systems are to be permitted, installed by a licensed contractor or homeowner and inspected to determine if the installation meets applicable state code and local ordinance.


•    Variance – on the rare occasion where conditions exist at a proposed site that make compliance with the requirements of state code and local ordinance impractical or impossible, a variance may be requested by submitting a written proposal.

Request for a Septic Variance here

•    Soil Borings – soil tests are needed to determine many important soil characteristics which are important in determining what type of septic system can be installed.  Some of the characteristics that are checked in the soil boring are soil type, depth to bedrock, depth to seasonal wetness, landscape position and subsoil structure.

•    Engineered Drawings – for septic systems that are installed in The Galena Territory & Apple Canyon Lake, a survey of the lot, site plan and septic layout are required for the resort’s Architectural Review process.  This is to be completed before a septic permit can be obtained.

•    Select a Contractor – choose a licensed septic installation contractor who will apply for a septic permit.  Once the staff reviews the application a permit will be issued.  A copy of the permit will be sent to the contractor, Galena Territory or Apple Canyon Lake (if applicable) and Building and Zoning.  Once Building and Zoning receives the septic permit, a building permit can be obtained.

Licensed Septic Installers

Septic Permit Application - revised 1/19/16

•    Inspection – once the septic installation contractor has completed the septic installation, an inspection takes place to check if the system was installed in the correct location, is sized properly and meets applicable state code and county ordinance.  

•    Record – an inspection report with a detailed site map is completed and kept on file in the environmental health office.  This map has distances to the septic tank and drainfield.  It is a good idea to have a record of your septic layout so landscape, decks, patios etc. do not encroach on the septic area.  It is also a good idea to have a record handy when it is time to have your tank pumped.

•    Evaluations – septic evaluations for the purpose of a real-estate transaction are not required by the Jo Daviess County Health Department but may be required by lending agencies or in real-estate contracts. It is a good idea to have one done for liability purposes and to prevent unexpected expenses related to septic repairs. To apply for an inspection, you may complete the downloadable form and either fax, mail, or bring the form to the office along with payment.

Sanitary Evaluations for Well and/or Septic System

Septic Maintenance Information

•    Pumping – The periodic removal of fats, oils, grease and sludge from a septic tank is vital to extending the life of your septic system.  Water movement through the septic tank can allow suspended solids to make its way to the drainfield.  Once the perforations in the drainfield pipe gets clogged with these solids, eventual failure will occur.  It is recommended to pump your septic tank every 3 - 5 years.  How often you pump depends on the amount of water you use.

General rule of thumb: the more people using your septic system = increased water flow = your septic tank will fill up faster = more frequent pumping.

It may be possible that the septic tank will need pumping more often than 3 - 5 years.  Garbage disposals add extra solids to your septic tank.  Ask the licensed sewage pumping contractor the condition of the interior of the tank and how many solids were in the septic tank to determine how long you should go between pumping intervals.

List of Licensed Septic Tank Pumpers

•    Effluent Filters – all septic tanks installed after August 2000 should have an effluent filter located inside of the tank.  The purpose of the effluent filter is to collect suspended solids before they make their way to the drainfield causing premature failure.  Simply, routine maintenance is needed to keep the effluent filter from clogging.

Information on Cleaning Your Septic Tank Effluent Filter

•    Septic Do’s & Don’ts – a septic system is your own personal sewer plant that requires maintenance on a routine basis.  Be very thoughtful about what you put into your septic system, because if you’re not careful, it could cost you.

•    Trees & Septic Systems – trees or large shrubs should be kept at least 30 feet away from your drainfield.  If you do plan to plant trees near a drainfield, consult an expert to discuss your ideas and needs.  Trees and shrubs generally have extensive root systems that seek out and grow into wet areas, such as septic drainfields.

Trees & Septics

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