Rules and Regs: Minnesota Agency Researching Effects of Failing Septic Systems Statewide

In this month's regulations update, Hawaiian homeowners are slow to take advantage of tax credit to replace cesspools, and the MPCA investigates Minnesota's problems with thousands of faulty and failing onsite systems
Rules and Regs: Minnesota Agency Researching Effects of Failing Septic Systems Statewide

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Recent testing of hundreds of lakes and rivers in northcentral Minnesota showed no signs of contamination from septic systems. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency continues working to identify the effects of failing systems across the state. The agency says there are about 500,000 septic systems, with 100,000 being too old or too close to the water table and about 25,000 that have degraded to the point of being an immediate threat the human health. 

Changes to onsite system technical manual considered by Idaho DEQ
The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is considering changes to its technical guidance manual for the design, construction and operation of onsite wastewater systems. The revisions involve in-trench sand filter descriptions, drip distribution, extended treatment package systems, managed operation, maintenance and monitoring of alternative treatment systems, incinerator toilets, sand mound approval conditions, and the letter of intended use and empirical wastewater flow data. The proposed revisions are available on the agency’s website.

Hawaiian homeowners slow to take advantage of tax credit to replace cesspools
Only 11 applications were received by the Hawaii Department of Health in the first two months of a tax credit program to encourage people to replace cesspools with a modern wastewater system. Hawaii became the last state to ban new cesspool construction in March. It had been approving about 800 per year and there are 90,000 in operation across the islands. The law provides up to $10,000 in tax credits to replace cesspools within 200 feet of the ocean, streams or a source of drinking water. Owners have until 2020 to apply.

Colorado tri-county area banning land application
Arapahoe County on June 1 banned the land application of septage on agricultural land, following the lead of two nearby counties. Instead, septage must be disposed of at a site approved by the county or the Tri-County Health Department, which serves all three counties. The application of biosolids from wastewater treatment plants is still allowed.

Temporary variances give Florida pumpers time to find alternative disposal methods
With land application of septage now banned in Florida as of June 30, the Department of Health and Department of Environmental Protection have offered temporary variances to haulers and pumpers who need time to find alternative disposal methods. Notice of intent to apply for variances were due to the local county health department by June 25 with completed variance applications due to the county by September 5. The variances are good until July 1, 2017. With land application no longer allowed, septage must be taken to a wastewater treatment plant, biosolids treatment facility, or septage management plant or dewatered with the solids disposed of in a landfill. There is a $300 application fee for each variance.

The variance also allows those who used land application to become a DEP regulated septage management facility, which would allow them to landspread resulting biosolids, but not septage, on a permitted site. The $1,200 permit review fee has been waived because of the situation.

The additional time provided by the variance will allow the DOH, DEP, and the Florida Onsite Wastewater Association time to address rule language changes necessary to properly regulate the smaller septage management facilities that have neither the large flows nor the additional constituent streams associated with currently regulated DEP facilities, according to FOWA executive director Roxanne Groover.


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