MPCA SSTS Bulletin

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SSTS Bulletin

April 2015

Preliminary 2014 SSTS annual report data show inspections/fixes up from 2013


Annual report summary for inspections in 2013 and 2014 and number of non-compliant properties connected to central sewer, abandoned or removed and mitigated though a buyout.

The numbers are up for 2014! Annual report data related to inspections and other activities reported the past two years are shown above. Overall, the number of inspections and other improvements were higher in 2014 than 2013. 

In 2014, there were 9,420 construction inspections for new and replacement systems and 12,805 compliance inspections for existing systems. In addition to replacing 5,393 non-compliant systems, 592 were connected to a central sewer, 214 were abandoned and 34 were mitigated through a buyout.

Altogether during the past two years, there were nearly 43,000 system inspections (construction for new and replacement systems, and existing system compliance inspections) and 1,407 improvements (connection to central sewer, abandoned/removed, and buyouts).

These 43,000 inspections reported by more than 200 local SSTS programs the past two years represent roughly 8 percent of the total number of septic systems reported statewide. 

That’s a lot of inspections, and they occur largely during a relatively short construction season in Minnesota.

Watch for more analysis from the 2014 data over the next several months. The final report will be made available later this year. 

New ticketing authority aimed at more efficient enforcement of minor SSTS rule infractions



A measure passed in the 2014 legislative session provided the MPCA with the authority to issue tickets for violations of certain SSTS rules. MPCA enforcement staff will begin using this authority this month.

MPCA SSTS Manager Jim Ziegler says the agency asked for the authority after an internal study showed that the amount of time MPCA staff spent processing an administrative penalty order (APO) in minor enforcement cases was about 40 hours, compared to roughly three hours to process a ticket.

"Support for this authority was expressed by the Legislature, counties and members of the SSTS Advisory Committee and the SSTS Task Force whose members come from a variety of stakeholder groups, including counties and SSTS professionals," Ziegler said.

The specific categories that tickets can be issued for are outlined in Minn. Stat. 116.073 Subd. 1 (a) (5) and (6). The categories include common SSTS violations such as:

  • Working without the proper SSTS license;
  • Failure to maintain a local permit for SSTS work;
  • Failure to submit as-builts or compliance inspection forms to LGUs by the required time
  • Failure to maintain land application records in accordance with 40 CFR 503 requirements; and
  • Failing to treat septage and/or land apply in accordance with 40 CFR 503 requirements.

Ticketing example

The penalties associated with a violation for each category are outlined in Minn. Stat. 116.073 Subd. 2 (16) - (22). Penalties per violation for each category range from $250 to $500. Each category can be cited multiple times depending on the number of times the category was violated. The penalty for each category cannot exceed $2,000; however, if a ticket includes violations of multiple categories, the overall penalty may exceed $2,000.

The following is an example of an enforcement case that could be addressed through issuing a ticket and penalty.

The MPCA determines that SSTS installer installed two septic systems without acquiring a local permit from the LGU for the SSTS installations. Since this violation occurred in two separate situations the installer would be cited twice for the violations. The penalty associated with failure to acquire or maintain a required local permit for SSTS activities is $500 per violation. The final penalty amount that would be included in the ticket would be $1,000.

A ticket will include the following:

  • A summary of the violation that occurred;
  • The Minn. Stat. or Minn. R. (s) that was violated;
  • The resulting penalty amount, and
  • The corrective actions required to be completed.

The responsible party must pay the penalty and complete any corrective actions included with the ticket within 30 days.

Those getting a ticket have the right to appeal the field citation under the procedure outlined in Minn. Stat. 116.072 Subd. 6. If a notice for a request for a hearing is not received within 15 days of issuance of the ticket it becomes a final order.

The MPCA will continue to issue APOs, Stipulation Agreements, and Schedules of Compliance for more complex and/or repeat violations of SSTS rules.

Grants remain available to help counties review large-flow SSTS designs


As the SSTS construction season nears, counties should keep in mind that grants are available to compensate them for 75% of the cost to review new and replacement SSTS with design flows of 2,500 gallons per day or more. Funds for this grant were made possible by the Clean Water Legacy Act to protect groundwater and surface water from impacts resulting from the improper design and/or construction of subsurface sewage treatment systems.

The support is provided through a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA)  executed between the MPCA and an interested county. The Advanced Inspector may be a Qualified Employee Advanced Inspector of the county where the work is occurring, a Qualified Employee Advanced Inspector of another local unit of government working through an agreement between the local governments, or a private Advanced Inspector under contract with the county. (Qualified Employees are individuals who are certified in a specific license area by the MPCA and then employed by a local unit of government.)

These funds are available to counties to support their work in regulating systems that require that an Advanced Inspector perform the review, inspection, and permitting of new SSTS systems with a design flow of 2,500 gallons per day or more. For more information, please check the MPCA website .

First step, get a JPA with MPCA

Note that the first step in the process to receive financial assistance is to have a JPA in place. Only work completed by an Advanced Inspector after a JPA has been executed with the MPCA is eligible for funding. Once a JPA has been fully executed, it will cover any number of projects completed during the effective period. Each project does not require a new JPA. Upon completion of each individual project, the county submits a pay request. No pre-approval or application is required other than the JPA. The chart below shows the process once the JPA has been executed.

Aaron S. Jensen is the MPCA project manager for this grant.

Some septic tanks added, others dropped from latest MPCA approved list

The list of sewage tanks approved by the MPCA for use in Minnesota was updated in March. Some tanks have been dropped from the list and others have been added so be sure to check the list before picking tanks for your 2015 projects. Names and other contact information associated with  the various manufacturers has also been updated.

The MPCA maintains two lists: the "big" "List of Registered SSTS Sewage Tanks" that includes detailed information for each tank manufacturer and the "At a Glance Listing of Sewage Tanks" quick reference guide. Both lists can be found on the MPCA web site.