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Health Department



Private Septic Systems


Septic systems must be properly designed, installed, and maintained.  This protects our ground and surface waters, and reduces the spread of disease.


Sanitary permits

Our sanitarians:

  • Review septic designs
  • Issue permits
  • Inspect system construction
  • Oversee required septic inspections and maintenance


We issue sanitary permits to make sure private septic systems are:

  • Installed in appropriate soil
  • Installed in the proper location
  • The proper size so waste doesn’t cause a public health hazard


You need a sanitary permit to:

  • Install a new private septic system or replace a system
  • Repair, extend, or enlarge an existing private septic system
  • Reconnect to an existing private septic system
  • Modify an existing private septic system in some other way


Steps to getting a sanitary permit

  1. Have a soil evaluation done by a licensed certified soil tester.
  2. Get a system design from a licensed professional.  Options include a master plumber, master plumber restricted, or a certified designer.  A professional engineer may have the credentials to design a septic system in some cases.
  3. Ask your licensed professional to submit your Sanitary Permit Application to us.  For information about fees, see Sanitary Permit Fees.  If your proposed system requires plan review, your designer will need to complete the Plan Review Cover Sheet. They must send it to our office with the sanitary permit application or to Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services for review.  
  4. We will review your plans and permit application, and then issue a plan approval or a sanitary permit.


Septic system maintenance

All septic systems in La Crosse County must be inspected and serviced on a regular basis to make sure they are working correctly. This prevents septic system failures or helps to identify them as quickly as possible.


You are responsible for getting your system inspection and maintenance done, and making sure this information is sent to us.  Most septic pumpers can submit the maintenance report for you online.  Make sure to 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.  Some septic systems need service on a more frequent basis.  This is to keep filters clean or make sure mechanical systems are working correctly.  If you have questions, check with your septic pumper.  You can also call us at 608-785-9771 or email us at [email protected].


If you are having problems with your system, your system may be starting to fail.  Work with a professional to determine how to fix the problem.


Inspection and maintenance forms:

Private Sewage Maintenance Form

Holding Tank Servicing Contract

Holding Tank Agreement


Maintenance oversight

We enforce La Crosse County's septic inspection and maintenance rules by:

  • Sending reminder notices to private septic system owners to submit their maintenance report.


  • Reviewing maintenance and pumping reports to make sure systems are working properly.


  • Correcting problems on maintenance reports and making sure people comply with reporting requirements.  This includes issuing orders and citations, investigating property condition and ownership, and referral to La Crosse County Corporation Counsel for further legal action.


  • Making sure septic systems that no longer work or meet state or local regulations are abandoned properly.


Abandoning a septic system

People who live in La Crosse County are required to report the abandonment of their septic system to us.  Notifying us right away helps prevent you from being charged a maintenance fee in future years.  To find out if your system abandonment has been reported, please email [email protected] or call 608-785-9771.


Common septic questions

Common Septic Questions







Health Department Office Location
2nd Floor, 300 4th St. N.
La Crosse, WI 54601

Main Business Phone: 608-785-9872
Main Fax: 608-785-9846
[email protected]
In a public health emergency call 911
WI Relay Service and Interpretation Services Available

Office Hours: 8:00am to 4:30pm Monday-Friday; some service hours may vary

Collaboratively promoting a healthful community for all people.