MPCA SSTS Bulletin

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SSTS Bulletin

October 2020 

2019 SSTS Annual Report is online; more local program reporting improving compliance estimates


The 2019 SSTS Annual Report is online. Reporting by local SSTS (subsurface sewage treatment system) programs has improved over previous years, providing a clearer picture of SSTS compliance in the state.

Many local SSTS programs are developing databases, reviewing old files, completing inventories, and implementing other methods that help assess existing SSTS and provide increasingly accurate data.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) would like to thank the hard work of licensed professionals and local SSTS program staff for completing this work. Because of these efforts, Minnesota continues to set a high standard for protecting surface and groundwater from noncompliant SSTS.

2020 report survey going out in December

Web-based SNAP surveys will be sent to local SSTS programs this December to collect data for the 2020 SSTS Annual Report. The surveys are due by Feb. 1, 2021. Please contact Katie Dowlding (651-757-2301) with SSTS program contact changes, issues, or questions.

Clean Water Partnership loans available to replace failing SSTS


Need money for upgrading SSTS in your community? If so, consider applying for a loan through the Clean Water Partnership (CWP) program administered by the MPCA.

In a recent MPCA article, Cindy Penny with the MPCA states, “There's no question that [septic system] projects will have a beneficial impact on water quality, so those submissions go straight to an MPCA leadership team for review. We've had two of those receive approval within 24 hours of submission." 

Eligible projects include upgrading or replacing existing SSTS that are failing. There is currently no end date for CWP loan applications and they can be submitted at any time.  

More information can be found at the Clean Water Partnership loans webpage, or contact:

SSTS professional certification update

End-date extended for certification renewal flexibility

The MPCA has extended the timeframe for when certification expirations are being managed with regulatory flexibility - from Dec. 31, 2020 to June 30, 2021. This means all SSTS certifications that expire between March 13, 2020 and June 30, 2021 will be renewed, regardless of whether or not individuals have met their continuing education requirements.

Any continuing education missed as a result of course cancellations or COVID-19 related restrictions needs to be made up within one year of when training becomes available again. Individuals who have not fulfilled their continuing education requirement due to the closure of workshops will be issued a conditional certification, which is no different than a full certification, but helps us keep track of this training debt.

Training and certification exam opportunities

The University of Minnesota’s Onsite Sewage Treatment Program (OSTP) has announced a modified schedule of events for SSTS professionals. Upcoming training includes in-person certification workshops and exam sessions for most specialty areas, and hybrid (online and field/classroom) continuing education. The adjusted schedule of program offerings -- including cancellations, rescheduling, and event changes -- is online.

OSTP will be announcing additional classroom offerings and online learning in the months ahead. Please sign up for a waiting list if the offering you have selected is full. This helps us understand and work to accommodate your training needs. Additional schedule adjustments will be based on further guidance from University of Minnesota leadership. 

Certification exams will be offered on the last day of each certification workshop. Additional exam sessions have been scheduled for Oct. 22 and Nov. 5 in the metro area. Contact Jane Seaver with questions about upcoming SSTS exams. 

Existing certifications and renewals

Even with the offerings being provided through our partnership with OSTP, we understand that disruptions to our 2020 calendar have had an impact on individual plans for meeting certification requirements. To that end, we want to assure certified SSTS professionals:

  • Certifications scheduled to expire between March 13, 2020 and June 30, 2021, will not lapse as a result of course cancellations or COVID-19 related restrictions. This date may be reassessed in the future.
  • Individuals with certifications that expire during this timeframe will not be required to retest, and;
  • SSTS professionals with certifications that expire during this timeframe will still be responsible for obtaining their required continuing education hours within one year of when training becomes available again.

Please keep up to date with developments and adjustments to the MPCA’s SSTS professional certification and licensing program by visiting the Certifications and Trainings section of MPCA’s Response to COVID-19 webpage.

Thank you for your patience and support as we work to identify and respond to SSTS professional certification and training needs.

Redox revisited: Is that redox or mottles? Here's how to tell


Correctly describing the soil and its associated characteristics is one of the most important steps in designing and inspecting SSTS in Minnesota. Although you will frequently hear people use the words mottles and redox as though they are interchangeable, this is not the case.

Visit this previous edition of the SSTS Bulletin for a refresher on how to tell the difference between these soil features and how best to describe them to others. 

If you have questions about this topic, contact Brandon Montgomery.

SSTS rule change process nearly complete

The rulemaking project to amend SSTS rules related to when a state disposal system (SDS) permit is required and requiring tank pumping for compliance inspections is substantially complete. All administrative procedure requirements have been completed and the rule changes are ready to be put into place.

Visit this MPCA web page to review the changes.

While the rule modifications have gone through the administrative procedure process and are ready to implement, the MPCA is waiting until closer to the off-season to implement the changes in order to minimize disruptions to current practice. The current expected publication date (effective date) of the rule changes is late-November. This will allow for professionals to learn about the changes and plan for a more seamless transition into the 2021 construction season.

The agency is currently drafting information on how the changes will impact the industry and guidance on the changes. If you have a question on the rule changes, contact Brandon Montgomery