MPCA SSTS Bulletin Special Edition

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Special Edition, March 2020

Information for SSTS professionals regarding COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus)

The health and safety of individuals working as SSTS maintainers, designers, installers, inspectors, and service providers remains a priority for the MPCA. Due to the nature of work that these professionals conduct, exposure to untreated wastewater remains a common occurrence. COVID-19, as with any disease-causing organisms in wastewater, is impossible to detect by SSTS professionals as they are pumping, maintaining, installing, inspecting, or repairing septic systems.

Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports “there is no evidence to date that COVID-19 virus has been transmitted via sewerage systems, with or without wastewater treatment.”

While SSTS (i.e., septic systems) in Minnesota do not typically provide disinfection, the Environmental Protection agency (EPA) expects a properly managed septic system to treat COVID-19 the same way it safely manages other viruses often found in wastewater.

Additionally, properly installed septic systems in Minnesota are designed, and located, to avoid impacting a water supply well.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) “There is no evidence to suggest that additional, COVID-19-specific protections are needed for employees involved in wastewater management operations, including those at wastewater treatment facilities. Wastewater treatment plant operations should ensure workers follow routine practices to prevent exposure to wastewater, including using the engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and PPE (personal protective euipment) normally required for work tasks when handling untreated wastewater."


The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides the following information pertaining to basic hygiene practices for workers handling human waste or sewage.

  • Wash hands with soap and water immediately after handling human waste or sewage.
  • Avoid touching face, mouth, eyes, nose, or open sores and cuts while handling human waste or sewage.
  • After handling human waste or sewage, wash your hands with soap and water before eating or drinking.
  • After handling human waste or sewage, wash your hands with soap and water before and after using the toilet.
  • Before eating, remove soiled work clothes and eat in designated areas away from human waste and sewage-handling activities.
  • Do not smoke or chew tobacco or gum while handling human waste or sewage.
  • Keep open sores, cuts, and wounds covered with clean, dry bandages.
  • Gently flush eyes with safe water if human waste or sewage contacts eyes.
  • Use waterproof gloves to prevent cuts and contact with human waste or sewage.
  • Wear rubber boots at the worksite and during transport of human waste or sewage.
  • Remove rubber boots and work clothes before leaving worksite.
  • Clean contaminated work clothing daily with 0.05% chlorine solution (1 part household bleach to 100 parts water).

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also provides the following information pertaining to PPE for workers handling human waste or sewage.

Workers handling human waste or sewage should be provided proper PPE, training on how to use it, and hand washing facilities. Workers should wash hands with soap and water immediately after removing PPE. The following PPE is recommended for workers handling human waste or sewage:

  • Goggles: to protect eyes from splashes of human waste or sewage.
  • Protective face mask or splash-proof face shield: to protect nose and mouth from splashes of human waste or sewage.
  • Liquid-repellent coveralls: to keep human waste or sewage off clothing.
  • Waterproof gloves: to prevent exposure to human waste or sewage.
  • Rubber boots: to prevent exposure to human waste or sewage.

If you are interested in continuing to educate yourself about the risks that COVID-19 presents, you can find the most up-to-date information about the situation in Minnesota on the Minnesota Department of Health’s website.

SSTS certification and COVID-19

The MPCA understands that the COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted all aspects of daily life. Many of you have heard that the University of Minnesota’s Onsite Sewage Treatment Program (U of MN OSTP) has canceled SSTS training courses in March. April trainings have not yet been canceled; however, U of MN OSTP will not be accepting additional registrations for April classes at this time.

April courses may be canceled or registration reopened based on further guidance from U of MN leadership. They are looking into the possibility of rescheduling some of the canceled classes if logistics allow and will keep you updated of any offerings through their website.

The MPCA wants to assure certified individuals that:

  1. Certifications scheduled to expire between March 16, 2020, and a to-be-determined future date will not lapse as a result of course cancellations or COVID-19 related restrictions.
  2. Individuals with certifications that expire during this timeframe will not be required to retest.
  3. SSTS professionals will still be responsible to obtain their required continuing education hours once training becomes available.

Our office will continue to issue and renew business licenses. We appreciate your patience as we work to identify and respond to your needs in the current climate. Specific details and guidance related to certification and licensing will be shared in the coming weeks. You may continue to use the SSTS Search Tool to check your licensing and certification status and details.

Please contact if you have additional questions.