On-Site Wastewater Fall 2023 Check-In

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September 8th, 2023

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Welcome to the St. Louis County On-Site Wastewater news. You are receiving this message because you have signed up for updates with the St. Louis County Planning and Community Development Department. This resource will keep you updated with information about On-Site Wastewater news.

Permit Activity Update

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The On-Site Wastewater Division has seen very steady and consistent permit numbers as we approach the halfway point of the construction season. To date for the 2023 season, the division has issued/processed 673 septic permits to construct, 539 compliance inspections, and 270 operating permits and operating permit renewals. We strive to continue to provide excellent customer service and issuing permits within a timely manner. Environmental Specialists continue to conduct final inspections as septic system installations are completed throughout the season. As a reminder, please contact the division 48 hours in advance during normal business hours to schedule a final inspection.  

Replacing Failing Septic Systems Grant Opportunity 

St. Louis County has been awarded $200,000 from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) through the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) in the form of a grant for the repair or replacement of failing subsurface sewage treatment systems (SSTS) within St. Louis County. The County in collaboration with Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA) will administer the grant funds to low-income residents to repair or replace their failing septic systems.

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These new funds will allow the County to increase its capacity to address more failing systems than its typical grant funding awarded each year. St. Louis County residents that meet the minimum qualifications are encouraged to apply for these funds. Qualified residents are those with septic systems that are considered imminent threats to public health and safety (ITPH) or failing to protect groundwater as documented by a MPCA existing system compliance inspection. Properties receiving funding must be homesteaded single-family homes or duplexes. For additional information regarding qualifying guidelines, visit the St. Louis County website at St. Louis County - Onsite Wastewater Division or contact Beth Davis at AEOA by phone #(218) 735-6819 or by email at septic@aeoa.org

Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). This new grant opportunity is unique from the current Clean Water Fund low-income fix up grants the County applies for and receives each year because of its potential to provide additional needed funding to support St. Louis County's existing SSTS Abatement Program. Over the last two years, St. Louis County distributed $285,000 in 2022 and $230,000 in 2021 specifically for the replacement of failing systems to low-income residents.

The University of Minnesota to Host Two Free Septic Trainings Focused Toward Homeowner Education 

The University of Minnesota Onsite Sewage Treatment Program will offer two free training opportunities on ‘Being Septic Smart’ this month to celebrate Septic Smart Week. An in-person event will be held on Friday, September 15, 2023 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. in Pequot Lakes, Minnesota. This event will be an informative session on septic system maintenance and usage and is being hosted by Crow Wing Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD). 
Register for the in-person training here

An online webinar will be held on Tuesday, September 19, 2023 from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. The ‘Being Septic Smart’ webinar teaches property owners the basics about how their septic systems work. This webinar is co-sponsored by the Otter Tail County Land and Resource Department.
Register for the webinar here

Septic systems are designed to last 20-30 years but can last longer depending on use, care, and maintenance. Being Septic Smart provides information that enables property owners to maximize their septic investment so their system can function during and beyond its design lifetime with information that includes:

  • How a septic system works
  • The purpose of the tank and drain field or mound
  • The importance of clean water’s role played by the soil underneath the soil treatment system
  • How often the tank should be pumped
  • Whether additives are a good idea
  • How to prevent winter freeze-ups, and much more

*Please note - This is a homeowner training session, no CEUs will be provided for this event.

Winter Installs: Soil Verification

With the fall season upon us, we encourage designers and installers to get soil verifications completed now before it becomes too difficult to do so. Soil verifications become increasingly difficult to complete with confidence due to sun angles lowering and the possibility of frost/freezing conditions. Contractors intending to install a system during the onset of the winter months should contact the On-Site Wastewater Division as soon as possible regarding soil verifications and proactively navigating the SLC Frozen Ground Installation Policy. 

Point of Sale Requirements During the Winter Season

Please be mindful that frozen ground conditions enact the winter season point of sale requirements. As a friendly reminder, if a system is over 10 years old and hasn't had a compliance inspection in the last three years, the following are required for point of sale transactions: 

  • Completed Transfer Agreement Form 3030
  • Estimate from a licensed and certified installer for the replacement of the system
  • Escrowing 100% of said estimate at the time of closing until conditions allow for a compliance inspection 

IMPORTANT NOTE: If any questions arise regarding this process, we highly encourage you to contact the On-Site Wastewater Division to confirm the proper steps are being followed. This quick verification can prevent major issues for sellers, buyers, realtors, and closing agencies alike in the future. 

Contact us

On-Site Wastewater

If you have any questions about On-Site Wastewater, please contact:

Duluth Office: (218) 725-5200
Virginia Office: (218) 749-0625
Email: oswinfo@stlouiscountymn.gov

On-Site Wastewater Planning Manager
Ryan Logan