MPCA SSTS Bulletin

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SSTS Bulletin

May 2016


MPCA, MOWA working to extend flexibility in determining need for SDS permit to all Other Establishments (not just campgrounds/resorts); tank inspection rule change also near

In 2015 a legislative initiative was proposed by Hospitality Minnesota regarding when a State Disposal System (SDS) permit is necessary for seasonal resorts and campgrounds. In the past, this determination was required to be the higher of estimated flow or measured flow of the SSTS serving the location.

Legislation was passed and signed into law that created a means for using measured flows in determining if the 10,000 gpd threshold for an SDS permit has been exceeded, even if these calculations are below estimated flows.

Calculated estimated flows can also still be used to make the determination of whether or not an SDS permit is required for a facility. This choice and flexibility is now in place for a limited number of resorts/campgrounds.

The MN Hospitality initiative is being further advanced by the Minnesota Onsite Wastewater Association (MOWA) which has, along with county representatives on the SSTS Advisory Committee, been working with the MPCA to amend the SSTS rules to extend this same flexibility in determining the need for an SDS permit to all Other Establishments as defined in the rules.

“The proposed rule change applies only to existing systems and only for determining if an SDS permit is required,” says the MPCA’s Brandon Montgomery. “This has nothing to do with system design.”

MOWA and the MPCA are still working on finalizing language in the rules to accomplish this goal.

Second proposed rule change requires pumping septic tanks prior to inspection (in most cases)

The MPCA has also been working with stakeholder groups on changing language in the SSTS rules to require that a septic tank be pumped dry prior to an official inspection to determine its integrity. Widespread support for such a requirement was heard during discussions with those attending the annual Minnesota Onsite Wastewater Association convention earlier this year as well as in other discussions with SSTS professionals.

Most felt this was a reasonable requirement and said they were already pumping the septic tank empty prior to conducting an inspection in order to adequately assess the condition of the entire tank.

Others told the MPCA they felt such a change in the rules was too prescriptive and that completely pumping a septic tank dry prior to an inspection was not always necessary, especially given the many tools SSTS professionals now have at their disposal to make an adequate assessment.

“We understand this viewpoint,” says the MPCA’s Brandon Montgomery. “There are two provisions in the rule change that should address these concerns.”

Number one, he said, if an inspector knows ahead of time that a particular septic tank is not going to pass inspection for whatever reason, then pumping the tank is not required. But a tank can only pass an inspection if it has been inspected when empty.

The other provision Montgomery said, is that a tank may pass inspection without first being pumped if there is a tank integrity inspection report available that shows the tank has passed inspection (with the tank empty) within the past three years.

The MPCA hopes to complete the rule changes in time for them to be in effect for the 2017 field work season. Contact your regional MPCA SSTS staff person if you would like to provide input on either of the pending rule changes.

Cody Robinson joins MPCA SSTS policy/planning unit; Theresa Haugen promoted to SSTS supervisor


Cody Robinson has join the MPCA as a soil scientist with the SSTS policy/planning unit. Robinson graduated this past December from St. Cloud State University. He is stationed in St. Paul.

Theresa Haugen has been named supervisor for the MPCA SSTS compliance and enforcement and southeast region unit. Previously she was an industrial wastewater permit writer for the MPCA