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GreenStep City Best Practices Environmental Management

Septic Systems
no. 21

Implement an environmentally sound management program for decentralized wastewater treatment systems.
  Best Practice Action 6      [ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ]       [all actions]

Work with homeowners and businesses in environmentally sensitive areas and areas where standard septic systems are not the least-cost option to promote innovative waste water systems, including central sewer extensions.

  • Innovative or advanced systems and innovative systems research include composting toilets, greywater systems, cluster systems, constructed wetlands, floating island solutions, recirculating sand filters, and ozone disinfection systems.
  • Recognizing that the cost of septic systems was a barrier to affordable housing development, Cook County worked with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to pass an award-winning new ordinance that resulted in creative low-tech, ecological, affordable options (including composting toilets) for the treatment of graywater and septic waste for individual homeowners. A traditional septic system can cost up to $25,000. The new design can be built for between $250 and $7,000
Promote/assist in the design and construction of clustered/shared septic systems; extend central sewer system service.
Constructed wetland treatment, recirculating ozone system in place.
Composting toilets and greywater system in place.

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe

Date action report first entered:   04/16/2015
Date of last report update:   04/16/2015

Implementation details:
The Northern Lights Casino contains a recirculating ozone.

For more information contact:
Brandy Toft (City staff)   |   air@lldrm.org   |   218-335-7429

View All Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Actions


Date action report first entered:   11/06/2017
Date of last report update:   11/06/2017
Year action initially completed:   2014
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   Yes

Implementation details:
1 Star -Extended central sewer system to all of Warren's citizens -Passed ordinances banning the use of septic systems 2 Star - Warren Wastewater Treatment Plant utilizes a recirculating ozone system 3 Star - WWTP cleans and recirculates greywater produced

Outcome measures/metrics:
Banned septic systems in city limited while extending central sewer system services to all of its residents.

            view file

For more information contact:
Shannon Mortenson (City staff)   |   shannonm@warrenminnesota.com   |   218-745-5343

View All Warren Actions

Albert Lea

Date action report first entered:   08/18/2016
Date of last report update:   08/18/2016

Implementation details:
Freeborn County works with homeowners in environmentally sensitive areas and areas where standard septic systems are not the most efficient option to transition to alternate waste water systems including central sewer extension.

For more information contact:
Jerry Gabrielatos (City staff)   |   jgabrielatos@ci.albertlea.mn.us   |   507-377-4316

Freeborn County

View All Albert Lea Actions


Date action report first entered:   05/07/2012

Implementation details:
In areas that are found to have a majority of failing systems (as opposed to sporadic or low density areas) Mower County works with Sheila Craig, a Community Wastewater Facilitator to work with landowners to develop a plan, find funding, and look at cost-based options.

For more information contact:
Janet Anderson (Community volunteer)   |   janetanderson2840@gmail.com   |   5072190680

View All Austin Actions


Date action report first entered:   01/29/2018
Date of last report update:   01/29/2018
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   No

Implementation details:
The City through its development plan review process ensures proper collection of wastewater. The City’s NPDES MS4 program addresses and prohibits non-stormwater discharges in environmentally sensitive areas. https://www.bloomingtonmn.gov/eng/storm-water-pollution-prevention-program

For more information contact:
Steve Gurney (City staff)   |   sgurney@BloomingtonMN.gov   |   952-563-4606

View All Bloomington Actions


Date action report first entered:   06/06/2012

Implementation details:
The entire City of Burnsville is within the Metropolitan Urban Service Area. City SSTS ordinance specifies that SSTS need to be located to achieve maximum economic feasibility to allow for future connection to the public sewer system when it becomes available. There are separate City Council policies that provide special consideration for property owners with SSTS indicating that the city will not initiate sanitary sewer and water utility extensions into the R1A (SW Burnsville) area unless the city documents a significant threat to public health. These policies provide a measure of protection for rural homeowners and allow them to amoratize investments in their private systems over time.

For more information contact:
Sue Bast (City staff)   |   basts@ci.burnsville.mn.us   |   952-895-4524

View All Burnsville Actions

Elk River

Date action report first entered:   11/25/2010

Implementation details:
In Elk River there are several homes along the shores of Lake Orono and near wetlands where property owners have been required to install special systems such as mounds, at-grade systems, and pressure beds. There are also some developments in the City with cluster systems. The City requires yearly monitoring reports on the effectiveness of the septic systems. Most cities rely on the County to manage the septic systems but due to the size of Elk River, the city chose to administer the MPCA Individual Sewage Treatment System program.

For more information contact:
Amanda Bednar (City staff)   |   ABednar@ElkRiverMN.gov   |   763-635-1068

View All Elk River Actions

La Prairie

Date action report first entered:   12/15/2015
Date of last report update:   12/15/2015

Implementation details:
this action might be able to go under multiple other actions? 12/15/2015 Improved infrastructure by extending city water and sewer to an area of the city that was previously an un-served area of the city. The result was 45 new services for sewer and 45 for water. This action replaced failing private septic systems that were leeching into the Prairie River and provided safe drinking water to replace contaminated wells. This project also added two new lift stations that will complement our other 6 lift stations that were retrofitted in 2013.

View All La Prairie Actions


Date action report first entered:   04/05/2019
Date of last report update:   04/05/2019
Action completed after joining GreenStep?   Yes

Implementation details:
We partner with Rich Prairie Sewer and Water for our City Sewer and Water. They have extended their central lines to help every resident in Pierz have a shared water and sewer system for access to clean drinking water and sanitary sewer disposal.

For more information contact:
Kari Tyson (City staff)   |   karit@pierzmn.org   |   320-468-6471

Rich Prairie Sewer and Water District

View All Pierz Actions


Date action report first entered:   09/10/2013

Implementation details:
Rochester is at this time working with residents of existing older subdivisions in Oronoco township, designing and constructing a cluster or shared septic system to serve 13 existing sites with limited or no septic system locations available because of such small lot sizes.

For more information contact:
Phil Wheeler (City staff)   |   wheeler.phil@CO.OLMSTED.MN.US   |   507-328-7101

View All Rochester Actions


Date action report first entered:   03/07/2012

Implementation details:
Rosemount's Building Official works with individual property owners and system designers to promote innovative waste water systems in environmentally sensitive areas or where standard septic systems are not the least-cost option.

Descriptive links: http://tinyurl.com/6smxa2e

For more information contact:
Anthony Nemcek (City staff)   |   anthony.nemcek@ci.rosemount.mn.us   |   651-322-2090

View All Rosemount Actions

pending means a star rating has not yet been assigned to this city

greenstep advisor
Nick Haig, Onsite Sewage Treatment Program, MN Pollution Control Agency: 651-757/2536, nick.haig@state.mn.us, https://www.pca.state.mn.us/water/subsurface-sewage-treatment-systems