MPCA SSTS Bulletin

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SSTS Bulletin

May 2014

Spring tis season for granting SSTS wishes


By Gretchen Sabel

In the spring, a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. The rest of us must settle for thinking about grants for our SSTS programs.

The MPCA once again has significant funds for counties administering SSTS programs. There are four types of SSTS grants available to counties for fiscal year 2015.  

One, the grant for Advanced Inspector work on systems >2500 gpd, is an ongoing grant administered through Joint Powers Agreements with participating counties. Counties can apply for this grant at any time. Please contact Aaron Jensen if you would like more information on these grants.

The grants that will be opening soon are:

  • SSTS Base Grants - $18,600 per county (total of $1,599,600)
  • SSTS Incentive Grants – up to $18,500 per county if criteria are met (total of $713,111)
  • SSTS Low-income Fix-up Grants –  amount per county variable based on demand (total of $750,000)

No application is required for base grants. The MPCA determines eligibility based on whether the county has filed their 2013 Annual Report and has an updated SSTS ordinance that meets the standards of MR7082.  We will be sending each county a letter confirming ordinance status around the same time.

The remaining grants will have a single application with a four-week application period in May-June 2014.  The MPCA will determine grant allocations after reviewing applications. Funds will flow to counties through the BWSR Natural Resources Block Grants (NRBG) beginning as soon as July 2014. Counties will be notified directly by email when the grant application period opens.

SSTS annual report response rate continues to grow


By Aaron Jensen and Barb McCarthy

Each year, local units of governments (LGUs) with SSTS programs are required to complete an annual report of their SSTS activities. There are four types of SSTS LGU: county, city, township, and other or special purpose units (i.e. Water Management District, Joint Powers Board). The information supplied by LGUs is used to create the SSTS Annual Report for Minnesota.

The 2013 SSTS Annual Report is in the final stages of editing. It includes a broad analysis of SSTS trends for 2013 and over the past 12 to 13 years. Some of the data is "hard" data, such as the reported number and types of permits issued. Other data is considered "soft" data, such as the reported best estimates provided to determine SSTS compliance rates and, sometimes, the total number of SSTS in each jurisdiction.

The exact number of local SSTS programs is unknown. At this time, there are about 259 programs in Minnesota. While the number of county programs has remained the same over the years, the number of city and township programs varies from year to year.

More and more LGUs are submitting annual reports, which improves our ability to identify trends and mark progress toward the goal shared by the MPCA and LGUs: improving SSTS compliance rates to better ensure protection of human health and the environment. In 2013, 232 LGUs submitted a partial or complete report, an increase of 22 over the previous year and an increase of 40 over the number that submitted reports in 2011.


Of the 232 reporting programs, 86 were counties, 89 cities, 55 townships, and 2 other permitting authorities (Bemidji Joint Powers Board and Otter Tail Water Management District). A third "other" permitting authority, Olmsted Township Cooperative Association, submitted reports for 12 townships that are reflected in the individual township numbers.   

We appreciate the work LGUs put into submitting their annual reports and value the information they provide. Watch for more highlights from the 2013 SSTS Annual Report.

Still time (but not a whole lot) to submit tank fees for 2013


By Carol Decker

After a long and cold winter I am sure everyone is excited about getting back into the field and installing septic systems. Before all of the hustle and bustle that summer brings, please take the time to make sure you have read any mail you may have received from the MPCA. 

For example, tank fees need to be sent in no later than January 30 for the previous year.  If you did not send in the fees for 2013 you would have received a letter in March reminding you to do so. Until the fees are turned in, you may receive additional letters.

In 2012, there were over 11,000 sewage tanks reported installed.  Most installers paid the tank fee. Thank you!  The tank fee helps to support the SSTS compliance and enforcement program.

SSTS businesses that did not pay their tank fee for 2012 had ample opportunity  to make the required payment before suspension of their SSTS license.

First, they were sent two reminder letters.  If they did not respond, they were sent a third letter, called an Alleged Violation Letter (AVL). These were sent to 121 people.

Of 121 businesses that were issued an AVL, 46 did not respond and were sent a fourth letter, called a Notice of Sanction, saying their SSTS license would be suspended if they did not pay their tank fee.

Most of these cases were resolved, except for 13 cases where there were no responses to the various reminders and letters of warning. They received an Order of Sanction, saying their SSTS license was suspended as a result of not paying their 2012 tank fee. 

For these 13 businesses, their SSTS licenses remain suspended until the required payment is received or their SSTS license expires.     

If you have still not yet paid your 2013 tank fees, now is a good time to do so. Remember to use the “MPCA tank fee reporting form” on the MPCA website so you are properly credited for the fees.

Univeristy offering additional help acquiring advanced training/certification


By Sara Heger, University of Minnesota (UMN)

The University of Minnesota is offering two new opportunities for those pursuing advanced SSTS training and certification.

  1. An Advanced Design and Inspection Certification class MAY be added to the UMN training in 2014. This is a rescheduled event for the class scheduled in April.  Please contact Sara Heger at if you are interested in attending in 2014.  
  2. On July 23, 2014, the UMN will be having a training relating to the design and inspection of Intermediate and Advanced systems. The class will be open to any SSTS professional, but the target audience is those working towards SSTS Intermediate or Advanced Certification. The course fees for those working towards one of these new certifications will be covered by a grant from the MPCA, while those not working towards a certification will be required to pay a workshop fee. The class will start with a morning review of related topics and problem solving.  The afternoon will cover design with a field inspection of a newly installed Type IV system. Continuing educational units will be provided for those attending the class.

If you are interested in more information on these classes please visit the UMN website  or email the program.