Rules and Regs: Non-Sewered Area of Iowa County Ordered to Install Approved Onsite Systems

In this month's regulations update, a Minnesota county rules against an Amish family that had cited religious reasons for not installing a septic system, and a low-income area of Lee County, Iowa, is required to bring septic systems up to code after a sewer system is deemed not an option
Rules and Regs: Non-Sewered Area of Iowa County Ordered to Install Approved Onsite Systems

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Close to 40 homes near Chatfield Lake in Lee County, Iowa, were notified in October that they had 30 days to install approved onsite sewage treatment systems. The county government had previously decided against installing a community sewer system for the unincorporated area of Mooar and Powdertown after four years of study. A sewer system would cost the county about $1.2 million, and monthly bills for users would be about $75 per month. Local officials say residents of the low-income area could not afford such bills, which could leave the county on the hook to cover unpaid bills under the regional sewer agreement, which has happened in other areas of the county.

Minnesota county rules against Amish family, insists on building and septic permits
After five years, an Amish family in Minnesota has been told to stop work on a home under construction and has been banned from living in the structure. Fillmore County adopted its septic regulations in 2013, and they allowed graywater systems that fit within Amish beliefs. A District Court judge issued a final ruling in the case in early October, ruling against the family that had cited religious reasons for not installing a septic system or getting a building permit. The house does not have to be torn down, but nobody can live there and no further construction work can be done until a permit is received. It could be converted to a barn or for other use, but all drains would have to be sealed and the building inspected. Meanwhile, the family is living in a smaller home nearby, but it does not have a permitted graywater system and uses a straight pipe running directly into the ground. That may be the next issue the county will have to pursue.

‘Get Pumped!’ campaign promotes septic care on Long Island
More than 30 communities and organizations on Long Island are launching a public campaign to encourage people to properly maintain their septic tanks and cesspools, and schedule pumpouts on a regular basis. They are all partners in the C.E.S.S.P.O.O.L. Project (Coordinated Environmental Solutions for Septic Problems Occurring On Long Island). The Long Island Liquid Waste Association is one of the groups conducting the campaign that is supported by grant money from the Long Island Sound Futures Fund of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program through the New York Department of State. The multimedia campaign includes a brochure, fact sheets, a file for homeowner recordkeeping, and a website ( Coupons offering a $50 savings are being accepted by 10 companies.

Farmer’s septage waste dispute heard by Alaska Supreme Court
Septic waste was the topic of a recent LIVE outreach program held by the Alaska Supreme Court at Colony High School in Palmer. The court’s five justices heard oral arguments in the school’s gymnasium in front of a crowd of students. The case involved a farmer who uses septage as fertilizer on some of his acreage and a home builder who is developing a subdivision nearby. Alaska’s Superior Court had found in favor of the home builder, ordering the farmer to stop or minimize odor coming from the site and pay the home builder $90,000 in damages. The farmer appealed based on the state’s Right-to-Farm Act. After oral arguments, the 300 students in attendance were allowed to ask questions of the justices and attorneys involved in the case.

Iowa city works with DNR to reduce unlawful septage discharge
After years of discussion, the city of Rodman has entered into a consent agreement with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to develop a plan reducing unlawful sewage discharges from septic systems in the community. The city has agreed to submit a report to the DNR by July 2017, and a final plan by January 2020. The issue dates back to 1980, when the Department of Environmental Quality first sent a letter to the city. A 2008 complaint led to a notice of violation in 2010, and the city began studying alternatives, only to find it could not afford to do further studies. The city was designated a Disadvantaged Unsewered Community in 2015. As such, and since it has been cooperating with the DNR, the city will not face civil penalties for violations.


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