Process to Obtain a New or Replacement Septic System
This whole process generally takes anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks.
- Contact a Certified Soil Tester, of your choice, to perform a soil test.
The soil tester will contact the County Zoning Department to set up an appointment.
- Depending on what type of system is determined, state approval may be required.
- Upon final design or approval from the State, plans may be taken to the
plumber, of your choice, for estimates.
- A notarized Maintenance Agreement form must be filed on the deed at the
Register of Deeds office. This form may be obtained from the plumber or the
- The plumber will submit the Sanitary Permit Application and plans to the
Zoning Department for approval.
- Upon approval from the Zoning Department, installation of septic may proceed.
WISCONSIN FUND - Private Sewage System Replacement or Rehabilitation Grant Program Information
Established in 1978, the Private Sewage System Replacement or Rehabilitation
Grant Program provides financial incentives to protect public health, safety,
and the waters of the state. Richland County joined this program in 1980.
Since then Richland County has received 873 grant awards reimbursing
$2,187,344 to county residents.
Who can apply for a Grant?
You may be eligible for a grant under this program, if ALL of the following requirements are met:
When is My Private Sewage System Considered Failing?
- You reside in a county or governmental unit that is participating in the program.
- You have received a written enforcement order or determination of failure to correct the
violation from an approved county or local governmental unit representative before
- Your private residence or small commercial establishment is not located in an area served by municipal sewer.
- The private sewage system serving your private residence or small commercial establishment was constructed prior to July 1, 1978.
- The income of all owners of the private residence is less than $45,000 or of a small commercial establishment is less than $362,500.
(Note: Grant awards for private residences are reduced by $.30 for each $1.00 earned over $32,000.)
- Your private residence or small commercial establishment is served by a category 1 or 2 failing system.
- The private residence is occupied 51% of the year by the owner.
- The small commercial establishment is operated by the owner and has a daily wastewater flow rate less than
5,000 gallons per day.
When properly operating, a private sewage system safely treats wastewater by
storing sludge and solids in the septic tank and by treating and dispersing
wastewater in a soil absorption field. However, a failing system can harm the
environment by discharging sewage to the surface, to a lake or stream, or to
groundwater. Your private sewage system may not show any apparent signs of
failure and yet be failing.
The types of failing private sewage systems are divided into three categories:
Category 1 systems are those which fail by discharging sewage to surface water,
groundwater, drain tiles, bedrock or zones of seasonally saturated soils.
These are considered the most serious types of failure, and are given highest
priority for grant assistance.
Category 2 systems are those which fail by discharging sewage to the surface
of the ground. This type of failing system is eligible for a grant but has a
lower priority for funding than Category 1 systems.
Category 3 systems are those which fail by causing the backup of sewage
into the structure served. This type of failing system is not eligible for
How Much Money Can I Receive?
The maximum grant is limited to the amounts listed in tables published in
SPS 387, Wis. Adm. Code, or $7,000. (Richland County Zoning Department has
copies of these funding tables and can explain how they are used.) Amounts
may vary based on the extent of the work needed to bring your system into
compliance with the state plumbing code. Experimental systems are not included
in the $7,000 maximum.
MUST HAVE A FAILING SEPTIC SYSTEM THAT IS:
|CATEGORY 1: Surface water or groundwater
||A zone of saturation
||A drain tile or a zone of bedrock
CATEGORY 2: The surface of the ground
- Owner must occupy the residence of the failing system at least 51% of the year and be a legal
resident of Wisconsin. Rental properties are not eligible.
- Application fee is $175.00 made payable to Richland County Zoning. This
is NON-REFUNDABLE and is not paid back by the state.
- Application must be made PRIOR to installation of the new septic system.
- Your total adjusted gross income on your Federal Income Tax Form must not
be more than $45,000.00. Use your income tax form from the year prior to the
year you apply.
- Failing private sewage system was constructed prior to July 1, 1978.
- Small commercial establishments/farms call this office for requirements.
- Have a soil evaluation done by a licensed/certified soil tester.
- Choose a Wisconsin licensed plumber to apply for the sanitary permit with this office. (You need
NOT submit plumber’s estimates to us.)
- Submit tax records of the year prior to application.
- Request PAID itemized invoices from your plumber, soil tester and back hoe operator and provide
them to the County.
If my application is approved, when do I get the money?
Grant funds are allocated on an annual cycle. The county submits an application to
the Wisconsin Department of Safety & Professional Services by February 1 of any year for all eligible individuals.
The grants are normally received by Richland County sometime in August or September of the
If I’m not qualified for a grant or my application is denied, do I still need to correct my failing system?
Yes. Remember, a failing private sewage system is a violation of your local ordinance and state
statutes and can result in water pollution and health hazards. You may be ordered
to correct a violation even if you are not participating in the program.
WISCONSIN FUND GRANT MONEY IS NOT GUARANTEED.
If approved applications exceed available funding; DSPS is required to prioritize funds based on potential environmental harm associated with different types of private sewage system failures.
Category 1 grants are paid in full before Category 2 grants are eligible for any funding. If there are insufficient funds to provide payments for all Category 1 grants, these grants are prorated, and no funds are provided for Category 2 systems. If funds are adequate to fully fund Category 1 grants, then remaining funds are used for Category 2 grants. If these Category 2 grants cannot be fully funded from remaining funds, these grants are also prorated.
For additional information, visit the
State of Wisconsin – Wisconsin Fund website.
Please contact this office if you have any questions about these requirements or do not understand the program, we will be happy to help.
Who to Contact:
Cheryl Dull, Office System Technician
Richland County Zoning
181 W. Seminary St., Room 309
Richland Center, WI 53581
Regular Maintenance Requirements On Septic Systems
Richland County is required by state law (WI Adm. Code, SPS 383.54) to have
proof from the property owner that the septic system has been checked and/or
pumped every three years. As the current owner, it is your responsibility to
have the septic tank inspected and/or pumped by a licensed plumber/pumper.
Proper maintenance of your system will help to extend its service to you.
Pumping out the accumulated sludge and scum, and inspecting the baffles,
will help keep unwanted materials from flowing into and prematurely clogging
the seepage area.
You will be receiving a notice from the Richland County Zoning Department,
every three years reminding you that your tank should be either inspected
and/or pumped. A licensed plumber/pumper will need to sign the notice along
with the owner and return it within ninety (90) days of receipt to the:
Richland County Zoning Department
Richland County Courthouse
181 W. Seminary St., Room 309
Richland Center, WI 53581
A Homeowner's Guide to Septic Systems
This 17-page document describes how a septic system works and what a homeowner can do
to help the system treat their wastewater efficiently. This also includes
the Homeowner Septic System Checklist [PDF Format] (see below) to keep track of
the design specifications of the septic system and scheduled maintenance.
A Homeowner's Guide to Septic Systems
(2,131 Kb, pdf)
Non-Plumbing Sanitation Systems
See Private On-Site Wastewater Treatment System Ordinance beginning on page 12 – Section 15.
Richland County Sanitation Ordinance
Richland County Zoning & Sanitation website.
Vault Privies – Tank must be a minimum of 200 gallon capacity. The tank can made out of any material but must be water tight.
Pit Privies – A complete soil test must be performed by a Certified Soil Tester.
Portable toilets are not approved systems.
Composting systems must be National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) approved and should not require a drain.
A drain is required for non-electric systems. Non-electric systems are unacceptable.
If a system is found on the NSF website (www.NSF.com), and does not require a drain, the specifications can be submitted to Richland County Zoning for approval.
Non-plumbing sanitation system permit applications shall be submitted with the forms stated in Section 15 (D) p. 13 of the Private On-Site Wastewater Treatment System Ordinance.