New Septic Ordinance Expected to Bring Flexibility

By KBJR News 1

November 17, 2011 Updated Nov 17, 2011 at 7:34 PM CDT

(Northland's NewsCenter)--Across the Northland, new state regulations are forcing homeowners and small businesses to upgrade their septic systems.

St. Louis County is doing what it can to help people with expertise and financial assistance.

The goal is to keep more untreated wastewater out of lakes, rivers and streams and keep Minnesota's environment healthier.

St. Louis County has revised its current septic ordinance to comply with the new standards issued by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

"Were going to do what we can to keep these systems as affordable as we can," Ted Troolin, Director of the Virginia Environmental Services Department. "At the same time, we think it's very important that we continue to have on site waste water systems that are protective of human health and the environment."

County officials say new systems can cost upwards of $15,000 so the county is trying to be as lenient as possible while staying within the law.

"The property owner will hire a state certified designer to come and they do a site and soils evaluation on the property, make an evaluation as to the type of system or systems that would be best suitable for that particular piece of property," Mark St. Lawrence, Program Administrator of the Virginia Environmental Services Department said.

People living by lakes or who own seasonal lakeside properties may be granted more flexibility, including being allowed to install holding tanks for sewage rather than installing expensive new septic systems.

"In some cases, for some seasonal properties where people come up and don't use as much water, a holding tank might be a much better option for them," Troolin said. "It might be much more cost effective."

By February 2014, St. Louis County must be in compliance with the new standards.

But County officials expect to have the ordinance draft complete by this February and expect to take board action by the spring.

About 30,000 residents, throughout St. Louis County, have permitted waste water systems.

Posted to the web: Jennifer Walch