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GreenStep City Best Practices Environmental Management

Septic Systems
no. 21

Implement an effective management program for decentralized wastewater treatment systems.
benefits  
  • Data from a well-managed set of 1545 septic systems in the Otter Tail Water Management District, formed in 1984, shows very little impact on groundwater and improved water quality in the lakes. Total system failure rates have been less than 2%.
  • Benefits of well-managed septic systems include:
    • Protection of public health and local water and groundwater resources.
    • Lower costs to taxpayers by keeping water potable for human consumption rather than treating contaminated water.
    • Longer system life, improved system performance and increased reliability.
    • Reduced costs for repairs, maintenance and replacement.
    • Improved property values.
    • A barrier to resale of property removed.
 
Optional for category A, B and C cities
All Category A, B and C cities that choose to implement this best practice are recognized upon completion of at least one action.
summary
Throughout Minnesota, failing septic systems in smaller towns and rural areas have relatively direct connections to surface and ground waters. These connections can cause detrimental impacts on the environment and can create an imminent threat to public health and safety. Standard septic systems with drainfields can also hinder cost-effective tax-base growth in small towns by preventing denser development. Cities can help structure assistance to septic owners, allowing them to implement best practices around septic systems and to access financial programs for upgrades.
greenstep advisor
Staff from University Extension's Onsite Sewage Treatment Program: 800/322-8642, septic@umn.edu, http://septic.umn.edu/wastewater-issues
connection to state Policy

Minnesota Rules chapters 7080 - 7083 (linked to from the MPCA septic web site) provide the framework for regulation of onsite wastewater treatment. Counties are in the process of updating their ordinances to meet this rule, which was passed in 2008. Cities that choose to regulate onsite wastewater treatment must be as stringent as their county's ordinance.