Septic Systems Can Fail

Septic Systems Can Fail

Properly maintained septic and treatment centers are important to protecting human health, drinking water and water quality. In fact, properly maintained municipal and on-site septic systems are necessary for high quality of human life.

Over 27 percent of Minnesota’s lake units use on-site treatment systems (Septic Systems). According to the Minnesota Lakes Association in some rural counties with high quality of water resources, up to 75 percent of the population uses on-site septic systems. But over 13 percent of the state’s septic systems are located within the seven-country Twin Cities metro area.

As of 1999, the University of Minnesota Extension Service lists 13 counties in Minnesota with over 10,000 systems:

  • St. Louis Co (33,009)
  • Crow Wing (21,151)
  • Otter Tail (19,628)
  • Anoka (19,242)
  • Stearns (17,610)
  • Cass (16,412)
  • Itasca (15,341)
  • Wright (14,837)
  • Washington (13,893)
  • Aitkin (11,278)
  • Becker (10,863)
  • Hennepin (10,739)
  • Pine (10,063)

It takes two things to have effective treatment of wastewater:

  1. a well designed and installed septic system
  2. a well-maintained septic system

Ken Olson, Extension Educator of the University of Minnesota has said: “When we have both of these components, a septic system will treat household sewage as well as, or better than, municipal treatment plants.” Therefore as responsible citizens we cannot allow either of these components to fail. All sources of phosphorous and other contaminants in the entire watershed will impact the river or lake if not properly managed.

There are many regulations governing the proper treatment of sewage. Under state law, rule 7080, all counties are required to adopt a septic system ordinance that meets or exceeds the state rule and is effective in all areas of the county. Septic system inspection resides with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on the state level and with the County on a local level. All septic system designers, installers, inspectors and pumpers must be licensed by the state and follow state rules and procedures. A county permit must be obtained for the installation of a septic system.

The state law has a method of identifying systems that are not in compliance. If a homeowner obtains a permit for remodeling a home or adding a room to the home, the home’s septic system must be in compliance. Some counties are stricter than others in this matter.

State law requires homeowners, when selling a home with a septic system, to disclose what they know about the system. Lending institutions often require the system to meet county code as a condition of a loan. Some counties have made this lending requirement part of the county septic system ordinance.