Freeborn County pushes septic system compliance

Published 10:10 am Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The septic system compliance program previously enacted within the Shell Rock River Watershed District is expanding to the rest of Freeborn County.

County commissioners on Tuesday approved implementing a program that primarily focuses on systems installed prior to 2002, with an emphasis on properties that are imminent health threats, without sewer permits or that are within shoreline areas or wellhead protection zones.

Affected property owners will be notified by letter early next year.1218.sewer.compliance

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Environmental health coordinator Richard Hoffman said the goal is to continue the program already in place within the watershed district and to protect the land and water resources in the county.

Sewer inspectors from the county would see if the components of each system are functioning in accordance with state standards.

If a system is found to be out of compliance and an imminent threat to public health, the owner will be given 10 months to upgrade the system. For systems that are not compliant but are not an imminent threat, the owner will have five years to upgrade.

Hoffman said grants and loan programs will be available to assist property owners with installation costs, and the county will offer a $100 reimbursement rate for each sewer system compliance when completed.

Hoffman said the program is proposed to begin in Newry Township in northeastern Freeborn County in 2015 and proceed counterclockwise around the county until it ends in 2027 in Riceland Township.

Systems within the Shell Rock River Watershed District would be inspected near the end of the program.

County sewer inspectors will conduct 100 to 150 inspections per year, completing typically one township each year, depending on the number in each township, Hoffman said.

Presently inspections are required when a property is sold or if a property owner applies for a building permit for a bedroom or bathroom addition to a home, he said.