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Expand/Contract Questions and Answers

  • How do I get a zoning permit?

  • How do I rezone my property?

  • How do I report manure runoff?

  • What is a POWTS

  • What is the reason for POWTS regulation

  • What is required of me as a POWTS owner?

  • Where can I find the regulations regarding POWTS maintenance?

  • What is the Inventory and Maintenance Program?

  • What is the on-line POWTS maintenance reporting system?

  • What happens if I refuse to do POWTS maintenance?

  • What if I pump my septic tank every year or every two years?

  • What do I do with my POWTS after a flood?



Amy Heins, Administrative Associate II  email
Chris Mrdutt, Zoning Coordinator email
Tracy Pelky, Zoning Coordinator  email

(715) 346-1334

Services provided by the Portage County On-Site Waste Section include:

  • Administration of the Private Sewage System Ordinance and County's On-Site Sewage Program, including issuing sanitary permits for approved septic systems, enforcement of County Ordinances and applicable State Codes, and issuing County Orders (condemning failing systems).

  • Administration of the Wisconsin Fund Program (grant funding from the State of Wisconsin for replacing failing septic systems).

  • Processing inquiries and information requests from residents, soil testers, plumbers, realtors, etc. regarding septic files or issues.


If you are planning a new construction project in Portage County where public sewer service is not available, a Private On-site Wastewater Treatment System (POWTS) is required. A sanitary permit is required for these systems to ensure that wastes do not cause a public health hazard. A sanitary permit must be obtained from the Portage County Planning and Zoning Department prior to obtaining a zoning permit and building permit, all three are required prior to the start of construction and all appropriate fees must be paid. The process to obtain a sanitary permit is as follows:

    1. Contact a Certified Soil Tester (CST) to conduct a soil evaluation and document the results on the Soil and Site Evaluation form SBD-8330. If applicable, the CST will contact our office to do an on-site visit to confirm the evaluation results by completing the Soil Evaluation Verification Form and paying the required on-site fee.  The results of the evaluation will give information on the type, size, and location of the recommended system.  A list of CSTs who work in Portage County can be obtained from the Planning & Zoning Department.

    2. If the soils are suitable for a conventional (in-ground septic system) and the system is to serve a one or two family residence, the county can issue a sanitary permit without a state plan review.

    3. If the soils dictate an alternate system, such as a mound system, in-ground pressure system, at-grade system or a holding tank, the plans may be either approved by Portage County or the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services before the County can issue a sanitary permit.

    4. Plans for both County and State (if required) approval must be drawn by an architect, engineer, plumbing designer or the master plumber installing the system. A list of septic system installers who work in Portage County is available from the Planning & Zoning Department.

    5. Completed plans and soil tests must be submitted to the Planning & Zoning Department along with the appropriate fees for approval.  Other necessary forms, such as a Sanitary Permit Application SBD-6398,  Septic Tank Maintenance AgreementHolding Tank Agreement, and/or other forms may also be required along with the competed plans and soil test.

    6. Please inquire about the Wisconsin Fund Grant Program if you incur the expense of installing a new POWTS that replaces a failing system. Grant money may be available if you meet eligibility and income requirements.

    7. Once the sanitary permit is issued, a zoning permit can be issued through the Planning & Zoning Department by making an appointment with either Chris Mrdutt or Tracy Pelky, 715-346-1334.

Ordinance and State Statutes:

Link to Chapter 7.9 Portage County Private Sewage System Ordinance

Link to Chapter SPS 383 Private Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems 

Link to Chapter 145 Plumbing and Fire Protection Systems and Swimming Pool Plan Review

Link to What to do with your private onsite wastewater treatment system (POWTS) after a flood? 

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