December MPCA SSTS Bulletin

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SSTS Bulletin

December 2019 Edition

SSTS employees-in-training: What they can (and cannot) do before becoming certified. Plus tips on expediting the certification process


Properly trained and certified SSTS personnel are critical to ensuring that SSTS are properly designed, installed, and maintained to protect Minnesota lakes, streams, and groundwater, as well as human health.

As many local SSTS program staff approach retirement and a new generation of technicians assume SSTS program responsibilities, the MPCA is receiving questions about what work duties local program staff can and cannot do before becoming certified.

A new page has been added to the MPCA website with guidance that is intended to answer those questions as well as provide tips for expediting the process of becoming certified.

SSTS certification training schedule

Numerous SSTS certification training sessions will be held throughout 2020. Here is a link to the calendar

"Mini" Pumper Course back by popular demand

The condensed training course focused on information and skills for SSTS maintainers is back, with sessions planned in January and February across the state. Space is limited for these sessions so registration is required.

This course covers:

  • what is sewage
  • what is required for record keeping
  • how to setup land application sites, and
  • how to properly treat sewage when land applying.

Presenters will also go through some site examples.

Although the classes are open to all SSTS specialty areas, the class focuses on the maintainer specialty area and maintainers will receive preference if seating is limited. Please e-mail or call the appropriate staff listed below for the class you would like to attend. We hope to see you there!

January 22, 2020
Red Wing Court House
509 West 5th Street, 3rd floor, Red Wing, MN 55066
8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Email, or by phone at 507-206-2604.

February 4, 2020Sherburne County Government Center
13880 Business Center Drive NW, Elk River, MN 55330
Room Maple A & B (Enter at door A)
8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Email, or by phone at 218-316-3909.

February 12, 2020
Cottonwood County Law Enforcement Center
902 5th Ave., Windom, MN 56101
8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Email, or by phone at 507-476-4263.

February 12, 2020
Duluth MPCA office
525 Lake Ave South, Suite 400, Duluth, MN 55802
8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Email, or by phone at 218-302-6670.

February 13, 2020
Detroit Lakes MPCA office
714 Lake Ave, Suite 220
Detroit Lakes, MN 56501
8:30 a.m. to 12:30
Email, or by phone at 218-846-8115.

More homeowner classes offered in 2020, including a webinar

The University of Minnesota (UMN) Onsite Sewage Treatment Program is planning additional educational homeowner classes in 2020 across Minnesota. These classes cover how septic systems and wells function and required maintenance and testing.  received a second round of funding through a grant from the Minnesota Department of Health to offer 

Over the past two years, more than 700 people attended the course and the reviews from citizens have been very positive.

The class includes basic information on chemicals of emerging concern including pharmaceuticals and personal care products and the potential impact on septic systems and groundwater.

Listed below are meetings scheduled for 2020 in Duluth, St. Cloud, Rochester, Metro, Bemidji and Fergus Falls. In addition, there will be an on-line webinar version of the class in May.

Jan. 13, Austin (Mower County)
6 p.m., Jay C Hormel Nature Center, 1304 21st St NE, Austin, MN 55912
Contact: Valerie Sheedy, 507-434-2639

March 12, Ramsey 
5 p.m., Ramsey City Hall, 7550 Sunwood Drive NW, Ramsey, MN 55303
Contact: Emily Johnson, 763-434-2030

April 4, Waseca (Waseca County)
10 a.m., East Annex, Waseca County East Annex, 300 North State St, Waseca, MN 56093
Contact: Kimberly Shermo, 507-835-0657

April 9, Wabasso (Redwood County)
6 p.m., Wabasso Community Center, 1429 Front St, Wabasso, MN 56293
Contact: Nick Brozek

April 17, Statewide Webinar (Septic Secrets)
1 p.m., contact Jeff Forester, 952-854-1317

April 21, Bagley (Clearwater County)
6:30 p.m., Bagley, American Legion Club, 112 N Main Ave, Bagley, MN 56621
Contact: Dan Hecht, 218-694-6183

April 27, Elk River (Sherburne County)
5:30 p.m., Sherburne County Government Center, 13880 Business Center Drive, Elk River, MN 55330
Contact: Lynn Waytashek, 763-765-4450

April 30, Milaca
7 p.m., Mille Lacs Historic Courthouse, Board Room , 625 2nd Street SE, Milaca, MN
Contact: Corrine Webb, 320-983-8458

June 6, Ottertail (Otter Tail County) 
10 a.m., Thumper Pond Resort, 300 Thumper Lodge Rd, Ottertail, MN 56571
Contact: Amy Busko, 218-998-8096

Clip & save: SSTS certification and training phone menu changes


You'll hear a new message and menu options next time you call the MPCA certification and training phone numbers (651-757-2201, 800-657-3859). 

You will now press "1" to access the following SSTS menu options:

  • Press 1 for information about SSTS training and support by the University of Minnesota’s Onsite Sewage Treatment Program.”
    • To speak with someone about certification training or continuing education workshop scheduling, enrollments, or other questions for the University of Minnesota’s Onsite Sewage Treatment Program, please hang up and dial 1-800-322-8642.”
  • Press 2 to reach help with business licensing or individual certification
    • Press 1 for general liability insurance - Mary Osborn 651-757-2101
    • Press 2 for questions about individual certification, continuing education credits, or business licensing - Brenda Tischler 651-757-2111
  • “Press 3 to reach compliance and enforcement field staff”
    • Please visit our website to view a map if you are uncertain about which region you are in: 
    • Press 1 for Northeast Minnesota or North Metro Region - Ian Harrison 218-302-6670
    • Press 2 for Central Minnesota” - Aaron Patrick 218-316-3909
    • Press 3 for Northwest Minnesota - Nick Kramer 218-846-8115
    • Press 4 for Southwest Minnesota - Connor Hegrenes 507-476-4263
    • Press 5 for Southeast Minnesota or South Metro Region - Steve Oscarson 507-206-2604
  • Press 4 to reach technical and administrative assistance
    • Press 1 for Technical Assistance, Soils, or Local Program Administration - Brandon Montgomery 651-757-2230
    • Press 2 for Technical Engineering or Tank Registration - Corey Hower 507-206-2603
    • Press 3 for Unsewered Community Support - Lisa McCormick 320-248-1210

It's beginning to look a lot like... SSTS Annual Report time


The MPCA's Lisa McCormick has made her list and checked it twice so counties and other local units of government that administer the state's SSTS program should have received their SNAP Survey link to the 2019 SSTS Annual Report the first week of December. If you have not received the email, please contact Lisa McCormick to get a new link sent out.

The web-based SNAP Survey reporting process initiated two years ago has been largely successful in meeting the goals of this change: more accurate, representative data statewide, and a more efficient data collection process that allows for a quicker turnaround on the SSTS Annual Report. The data has helped the SSTS program analyze trends and is being used to assess new program goals.

Each LGU has identified an appropriate SSTS contact for the survey and their email address. Those contacts received an email with a unique link to initiate the survey. Once you enter the survey, follow the given instructions and enter all data as required.

If your jurisdiction contracts SSTS services through a licensed inspection business, they can be forwarded the survey, but we ask that they fill out the contact information and email for the actual SSTS administrator within the LGU. 

This new process allows us to provide more detailed instruction when each question is asked, so make sure you carefully read all instructions. Surveys are due no later than Feb. 1, 2020.

Retirement opens another spot on advisory panel

This November Ed Kerzinski retired from his position in the septic program with St. Louis County. We thank Ed for his many years of service in SSTS and wish him well in his retirement. 

His departure also leaves an open spot on the Technical Advisory Panel.(TAP) for one Inspector/LGU. There is also currently another vacancy on the panel for an engineer. If you or someone you know is interested in filling either of these two spots, please contact Ian Harrison at 218-302-6670.

TAP members provide technical support and recommendations to the MPCA on the registration process for products used in septic systems. Members represent different areas of practice (designers, installers), local regulators, and educators. The committee meets regularly on an as-needed basis.

MPCA to present at annual MOWA gathering in Mankato in January


The MPCA will present its annual overview of the SSTS program in Minnesota at the annual MOWA (Minnesota Onsite Wastewater Association) meeting being held in Mankato Jan. 28-29.

This year's theme for the event is "Evolution of Onsite Wastewater Treatment" and will feature a keynote address by Kenny Blumenfeld, Senior Climatologist  with the DNR State Climatology Office. He'll be speaking on septic system impacts related to climate change.

The MPCA will present its annual overview of the SSTS program in Minnesota at the annual MOWA (Minnesota Onsite Wastewater Association) meeting being held in Mankato Jan. 28-29.

This year's theme for the event is "Evolution of Onsite Wastewater Treatment" and will feature a keynote address by Kenny Blumenfeld, Senior Climatologist  with the DNR State Climatology Office. He'll be speaking on septic system impacts related to climate change.

Proposed SSTS permit/tank inspection rule change comment period ends Dec. 23

The public comment period ends soon (Dec. 23) on a proposed MPCA rule change intended to 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.

More information on this rule change including the draft rule language, statement of need and reasonableness, and directions regarding public comments can be found on our website and in the state register.

Questions about this rulemaking can be directed to the rule coordinator, Katie Izzo, at 651-757-2595.


Fungal disease cases on the rise in MN. Those working in disturbed soils at risk

Cases of a serious fungal disease (blastomycosis) among dogs rose in Minnesota in 2019 and while experts say pets are most at risk, those whose work exposes them to disturbed soil, including septic system installers, are also at risk. 

Since people are most likely to be around disturbed soil during the summer, the number of reported cases tends to rise in the fall following an incubation period of 45 days.

Areas most affected by the disease in Minnesota include Cass, Aitken, Itasca and St. Louis counties.