SSTS news from the MPCA

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SSTS Bulletin

Spring 2019 edition

MPCA appreciates LGU participation in our soil dispute survey


Last fall, the MPCA sent out a survey seeking information on soil disputes occurring around the state. We want to say thank you to the 161 local units of government that responded – a very impressive 70% return rate on the survey.

The responses we received demonstrates local regulators' commitment to the SSTS program, and that is one of the strongest assets a program can have. One of the MPCA’s core values is to make decisions and policies based on data, and we couldn’t do that without such active participants at the local level.

Here are some of the main takeaways on the results from the soils dispute survey:

  • Out of 161 responding LGUs, 53 or 33% reported having at least one soil dispute occur in their jurisdiction over the last three years.

  • When asked whether the local dispute process successfully resolves disputes, it appears the majority of LGU processes are effective with only 4% reporting it rarely resolves the dispute and 0% reporting it never resolves the dispute.

  • More specific on the local process, 47% LGUs report disputing parties resolve the dispute themselves by meeting together on site, 34% are resolved by LGUs rendering a final opinion, 13% reported using a licensed PSS, and 6% reported other.

  • No discernible correlations were observed tying soil disputes to property inspection triggers, infield verification of soils, or the age of the system. 

Based on our results, the MPCA does not anticipate any direct action aimed toward soil disputes at this time. We will continue to keep our finger on the pulse, and may issue another survey at a later time.

Again, the MPCA sincerely appreciates all of your efforts at the local level. We will continue to reach out to gather information as demand warrants in order to make data-driven decisions, and we strongly encourage your continued participation in future short surveys.

Notify MPCA early during straight-pipe enforcement cases


Locating and correcting straight-pipe discharges of septic waste is a priority for local units of government (LGUs) as well as the MPCA. The straight pipe law (Minn. Stat. 115.55 Subd. 11) provides an additional tool LGUs can use to correct straight-pipe discharges within their jurisdictions by facilitating a cooperative local-state enforcement process.

The law states that an inspector who discovers the existence of a straight-pipe system shall issue a noncompliance notice to the owner of the straight-pipe system and forward a copy of the notice to the MPCA. The notice must state that the owner needs to replace or discontinue the use of the straight-pipe system within 10 months of receiving the notice.

The notice should include a specific date by which compliance should occur. If the owner does not replace or discontinue the use of the straight-pipe system within 10 months, the owner is subject to an administrative penalty of $500 per month of noncompliance beyond the 10-month period.

If the system owner fails to replace or discontinue the straight-pipe discharge by the due date, the LGU may refer the case to the MPCA by filling out the SSTS Enforcement Referrals from Local Programs form.

At month 10 plus one day, the MPCA will initiate the Administrative Penalty Order (APO) process. The MPCA will issue subsequent combined APOs until the system owner has completely satisfied all the required items. 

We encourage LGUs to contact their assigned SSTS field staff early in the process. They can provide technical assistance regarding what documentation the MPCA needs from the LGU to be able to accept the referral after the initial 10-month period.

Rulemaking continues on SSTS inspection/permit requirements


By Brandon Montgomery, MPCA

The MPCA is considering rule amendments that clarify when a State Disposal System (SDS) permit is required rather than a local permit, and when tank pumping is required for completion of a compliance inspection on an existing SSTS. General background information on this rulemaking can be found in previous editions of the SSTS Bulletin (May 2016, May 2017).

Sign-up with GovDelivery to receive rulemaking updates

The first public comment period related to this rulemaking process was posted in the state register on Dec.11, 2017. The comment period was open until Feb. 20, 2018, and multiple comments were received.The official Notice of Intent to Adopt should be published in the State Register in the coming months. In order to stay informed of this rulemaking and to ensure you have adequate time to comment, please subscribe to the GovDelivery rulemaking mailing list. Subscribing to Gov Delivery is as easy as 1-2-3.