Information on the state of Minnesota is available for the following topics. To review this information, click on the links below.
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Lori Frekot, P.E.,
Senior Engineer, or
Mark Wespetal, P.S.S., Hydrologist
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Policy and Planning Division
520 Lafayette Road North
St. Paul, Minnesota 55455-4194
(651) 296-8762 or (651) 296-9322 (respectively)
(651) 297-8676 (fax)
Statutes & State Codes:
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Minnesota State Regulations
Constitutions, Statutes and Codes
Treatment Systems Program
Onsite regulations for Minnesota were last updated on January 23, 1996. Regulations are not currently under revision; however, there are plans to do so prior to July 31, 2001, including: 1) Delete 7080.0150, subp. 1 B requirement for Schedule 40 pipe; use exact language from 1996 rule. 2) 7080.010, subp. 5, A, (1) clarification to assure 12 inches of original soil is required to design and install a mound system. Multiple clarification changes and some major changes to meet the present priorities of the MPCA may also occur.
regulations are split between one or more agencies in Minnesota, thus:
MPCA: Writes and interprets rules, administers state licensing program, reviews and approves septic designs with average design flows greater than 10,000 gpd.
MDH: Reviews and approves plumbing systems, including the septic system, for facilities serving the public and are designed for less than10,000 gpd. MDH reviews and approves well setback infringements.
DNR: Responsible for the shoreland management act that requires septic systems to be inspected when any permit or variance is requested for the property. Implementation is done locally; DNR is involved for setback infringement approvals.
Contacts for these agencies are:
Minnesota Department of Health (MDH)
Metro Square Building
121 East 7th Place
St. Paul, MN 55164
(651) 215-0977 (fax)
State Shoreland Coordinator
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
MN DNR, DNR Waters
1601 Minnesota Drive
Brainerd, MN 56401
(218) 828-6043 (fax)
No new technologies were added to Minnesota regulations within the past year; however, two processes for allowing new technologies to enter the state were added. First, (7080.0179) performance standards now allow any technology to be used if the local government specifically adopts that portion of the rule, issues renewable operating permits on the system, and reviews and approves monitoring and mitigation plans. Second, (7080.0400) MPCA can now designate a new technology as an "alternative" (has research data) or "standard" (proves itself over time and location) system.
In addition (7080.0450) technologies may enter the state as "warranted" systems; submittal includes a minimum five-year warranty, performance data, and financial assurance. New technologies may also be used under the conditions of (7080.0178) maximum 1.2 gpd/ft2 loading rate, medium sand or finer, pressure distribution, monitoring, and mitigation plan.
Surface discharge for onsite systems is not an option in the state. Septic systems are by definition subsurface disposal/dispersal systems in Minnesota. However, surface discharges are allowed for any technology that can meet the water discharge standards through the NPDES program. An NPDES permit is required for all surface discharges; the MPCA is the permitting authority.
Minnesota State Code allows for drainfield area/size reductions through the performance Code (7080.0179). Designs are approved site-by-site and managed locally. Considerations must be made for vertical separation to seasonally high water table or bedrock, effluent quality, loading rates, loading methods, soil conditions, and other site-specific considerations as established in the operating permit. There must be an unsaturated zone during system operation, monitoring and mitigation plan and local renewable operating permit. System designs with size reductions may also be designated as alternative or standard if research and field data allow.
A funding program exists to assist homeowners replacing failing systems or installing new systems. Information is available from:
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA)
Policy & Planning Division
520 Lafayette Road
St. Paul, MN 55155
(651) 297-8676 (fax)
For information about ongoing onsite wastewater demonstration, research, or testing projects in Minnesota, contact:
Dr. James L. Anderson,
University of Minnesota
Water Resources Center
1518 Cleveland Avenue North, Suite 302
St. Paul, MN 55108-6001
(612) 625-1263 (fax)
Minnesota State Code recognizes or requires management programs or management districts to monitor and maintain aerobic tanks and holding tanks. Aerobic treatment units must have a service contract for the life of the system; 7080.0178 ("other") and 7080.0179 (performance) systems require monitoring and mitigation plans approved by local government; 7080.0179 (performance) systems require local renewable operating permits; holding tanks must have a service contract approved and managed by the local government; and all septic system owners are responsible for evaluating their own tanks, and, if needed, have them pumped at least once every three years.
There are many management and maintenance requirements that are not part of the State Rule, but are administered locally. For example, the Metropolitan Council is responsible for all counties within the potential sewer extension perimeter and requires a system evaluation and tank pumpout every three years. Many lake associations, homeowner associations, sanitary sewer districts, etc., have created and implemented effective management programs. Additional management/maintenance information may be obtained from Frekot (above).
Minnesota has formed a public utility type company or entity for operation, management, and maintenance (OM&M), but there is work with rural electrical cooperatives to create responsible management entities for OM&M.
In Minnesota, each local unit of government with jurisdiction (county, city, or township) has information regarding the number of onsite systems currently in use. A mailing list is available upon request. In general, there are about 600,000 individual systems in Minnesota, increasing by about 15,000 each year.
The State does not currently track the number of permits issued per year, but is scheduled to begin tracking in 2001.
does not recognize repair; local ordinances often single out items such as pump
or baffle replacement as repair items that do not require a permit. An existing
system is NOT in compliance if it is:
· A seepage pit, cesspool, drywell, leaching pit, other pit, a tank that obviously leaks below the designed operating depth or any system with less than the required vertical separation. Three (3) feet is required except for systems built before April 1, 1996, AND not in shoreland, or not a wellhead protection area or not serving a food, beverage, and lodging establishment, then it is 2 feet).
· Any situation with the potential to immediately and adversely affect or threaten public health or safety, including ground surface or surface water discharges and sewage backups.
· Any system required to have a monitoring and mitigation plan must meet the monitoring requirements of the plan.
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of onsite systems: About 500,000; 1990 U.S. Census reports about
468,000about 27% of housing units; this includes residential systems of all kinds, including
Number of new systems installed each year: Approximately 16,000.
Any cesspool or seepage pit; any surfacing sewage; any system with less
than 2 feet separation (3 feet in some circumstances) from saturated soil or bedrock; any tank
leaking to groundwater.
Number or proportion of systems presently failing: Approximately 50%.
Number or proportion repaired annually: About 3000.
Number or proportion replaced annually: About 3000.
Number or proportion
of repairs or replacements that require alternative technology (e.g.,
sand filters, pressure dosing): 40-50% as the question is worded; however, mounds, pressure
dosing and aerobic systems are classified as standard systems; mounds may account for 30-35%
of new systems.
Number or proportion
of repairs or replacements that require advanced technology (e.g.,
disinfection, nutrient removal): Only systems that discharge to surface waters; not many.
Cost of a conventional
septic system installation: $5000, mid-range; $3000-$7000, wide-range
Cost of a centralized sewer tie-in (including fees and cost of the sewer lateral): $7650-$12,000.
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|TOTAL PERSONS||TOTAL HOUSING UNITS||PUBLIC SYSTEM||DRILLED WELL||DUG WELL||OTHER||PUBLIC SEWER||SEPTIC TANK||OTHER MEANS|
|LAC QUI PARLE||8,924||3,955||2,077||1,666||192||20||1,932||1,957||66|
|LAKE OF THE WOODS||4,076||3,050||788||2,023||72||167||667||2,189||194|
of Minnesota, including a cold regions project.