SSTS — Local Units of Government
This page provides LGU location information and assistance for LGUs with development and implementation of their SSTS program.
In December of each year, more than 200 local units of governments are asked to complete an Annual Report regarding SSTS activities and other related information. If you completed your jurisdiction’s SSTS Annual Report (or have any questions), please email it to SSTS staff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LGUs enforce Minn Rules Chapters 7080-7083 through their local SSTS ordinance and issue permits for systems designed with flows up to 10,000 gallons per day. There are approximately 200 LGUs across Minnesota, and depending on your location your LGU may be a county, a city, a township or a sewer district.
LGU SSTS ordinances vary across the state. Some require SSTS compliance inspections prior to property transfer, require permits for SSTS repair and septic tank maintenance, and may have other requirements which are stricter than the state regulations. Therefore it’s important to check with your local government to determine the local SSTS requirements.
Counties are required by MN Stat. 115.55 to adopt a SSTS ordinance that complies with the MN Rules Chapter 7080-7083. Cities and townships with SSTS ordinances must effectively administer and enforce an ordinance that is administratively and technically as strict as the county ordinance. In some situations, cities and townships may adopt a conventional SSTS program if the county has adopted a performance program.
The 2011 Legislature passed a bill extending the deadline for counties to adopt their SSTS ordinance to February 4, 2014. LGUs have the option of choosing a Conventional or a Performance SSTS Ordinance, or, provided certain criteria are met, an Alternative Local Standards ordinance. Cities and townships have up to one year after their county adoption date to update their SSTS Ordinances.
- Model Ordinance Templates
- Ordinance Submittal Checklist (wq-wwists5-11)
- Requirements for City and Township SSTS Programs
Inspections are required for all new septic system construction and replacement. Existing systems must be inspected when there is a bedroom addition permit request (if the LGU has a permitting program for bedroom additions). Existing systems must also be inspected when any building permit or variance is requested for systems located in a shoreland area. Local ordinances or lending institutions may require inspections at other times, such as at property transfer.
- Compliance Inspections for SSTS
- Compliance Inspections for New SSTS
- Compliance Inspections for Existing SSTS
- Existing System Inspection Form (PDF Version)
- Vertical Separation Distance for Existing SSTS
- Bedroom Definition for Determining Subsurface Sewage Treatment System Size
- SSTS and Buildings, Structures and Lot Improvements
- Comparison of Plumbing and SSTS Regulations
- Policy on Utilizing Artificial Drainage Methods For Subsurface Sewage Treatment Systems
- Policy on Floor Drains from Garages for One and Two Family Dwellings — Subsurface Sewage Treatment Systems
- Guide to Septic System Disclosure at Property Transfer
All local governments administering an SSTS program are required per Mn Rule 7082.0040 Subp. 5 to submit to MPCA an annual report no later than February 1 for the previous calendar year. The annual report questions and instructions are sent to each local unit of government in December of each year. Data submitted are used to observe statewide SSTS permitting and compliance trends, and help MPCA with long-range planning efforts.
In 2003, the Minnesota Legislature passed a bill requiring SSTS installers to pay a $25 fee for each septic system tank they install on or after July 1, 2003. LGUs maintain a listing of tank installations throughout the year, which they submit to MPCA each January.
Installers, or homeowners if the LGU allows homeowner installation, must remit the total number of fees collected through the end of the calendar year to the MPCA by January 30th of the following year. For example, all fees for tanks installed in 2009 must be remitted to the MPCA by Jan. 30, 2010. All fee submissions must be accompanied by the MPCA tank fee submission form.
The money generated by the fees is used by the MPCA to increase the level of service we provide to SSTS professionals in the areas of new technology review, technical assistance for local governments, training individual sewage treatment system professionals, program planning, and enforcement under Minnesota Statutes, sections 115.55 to 115.58
Increased funding for county SSTS programs was provided in the Clean Water Legacy (CWL) funding package approved by the 2006 Legislature. The following information will assist in answering questions about how CWL funding will affect Local Government SSTS programs.
2013 Funds to assist counties needing Advanced Inspectors to review new SSTS systems with design flow of 2,500 gallons per day or more
The MPCA is pleased to announce a financial assistance program to support work of the Clean Water Legacy Act (Minn. Stat. Ch. 114D) in protecting groundwater and surface water from impacts resulting from the improper design and/or construction of subsurface sewage treatment systems. These funds are available to counties to support their work in regulating systems that require that an Advanced Inspector perform the review, inspection, and permitting of new SSTS systems with a design flow of 2,500 gallons per day or more.
The support will be provided in the form of a Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) between the MPCA and a county to provide up to 75% of the cost of work performed by a certified Advanced Inspector. The Advanced Inspector may be a county employee or working under contract with the county.
The first step in the process to receive financial assistance is to have a JPA in place. Only work completed by an Advanced Inspector after a JPA has been executed with the MPCA is eligible for funding.
Once a JPA has been fully executed, it will cover any number of projects completed during the effective period. Each project does not require a new JPA. Upon completion of each individual project, the county submits a pay request. No pre-approval or application is required other than the JPA.
To initiate the agreement process, contact the MPCA Project Manager
A draft agreement will be generated in the Statewide Integrated Financial Tools (SWIFT) system. Information is available on the SWIFT Web site.
Frequently asked questions
What if the project does not actually get constructed?
Answer: A county is still eligible for up to 75% of the costs of the work performed by an Advanced Inspector on a project that must be reviewed. Payment requests must be made within 30-days after final action on any project. Final action may be issuance of a permit, certificate of compliance, project denial, or withdrawal of the project by the proposer.
Are there time limits for the funding?
Answer: Yes. Only the work performed after a JPA is executed with the MPCA is eligible. Requests for payment must be made within 30-days of final project action. Payments will be made on a first come, first served basis until the total available amount is exhausted.
What documentation is required for a pay request?
Answer: MPCA has tried to reduce the documentation to the minimum needed, but since the funds are Clean Water funds there are additional requirements by law. The requirements are specified in the JPA and include: invoices from the county for the work completed by a certified Advanced Inspector, a copy of a document of final action are required.
2012 Funds to assist in SSTS upgrades (for low-income residents)
The MPCA is pleased to announce grants to support work of the Clean Water Legacy Act (Minn. Stat. Ch. 114D) in protecting groundwater and surface water from impacts resulting from the improper design and/or operation of subsurface sewage treatment systems. These grants are targeted for low-income residents; each county receiving the grant will administer the funds.
A total of 48 counties applied for and received grants for SSTS upgrades. The total grant amount available was $997,580; the amount requested from counties was $1,768,000. The amounts awarded ranged between $17,000 and $20,902 per county.
Homeowners need to contact their county if interested in obtaining this funding. The 48 counties awarded the funds are: Aitkin, Beltrami, Big Stone, Carlton, Carver, Cass, Chippewa, Chisago, Clearwater, Cook, Cottonwood, Crow Wing, Dakota, Dodge, Douglas, Hubbard, Isanti, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Koochiching, Lac Qui Parle, Lake of the Woods, Lincoln, Marshall, McLeod, Morrison, Norman, Olmsted, Pennington, Pine, Pipestone, Polk, Pope, Red Lake, Roseau, Scott, Sibley, St. Louis, Stearns, Steele, Todd, Traverse, Wadena, Waseca, Washington, Wilkin, Winona and Yellow Medicine.
Legislative Reports and Clean Water Council
- Subsurface Sewage Treatment System Inventory Report and Program
- Subsurface Sewage Treatment System Status Report on Recommendations and Planning for Statewide Inventories and Inspections, September 2010
Clean Water Council
The Clean Water Council formed an ad hoc committee in 2011 to discuss SSTS policy and to develop future SSTS program budget recommendations for the next Clean Water Council Report to the Governor and Legislature. More information is available on the Clean Water Council — SSTS Ad Hoc Committee page.
In 2006, legislation providing LGUs with an additional tool to require upgrades of straight-pipe systems was passed. Chapter 224, the Straight-Pipe Act, requires homeowners who do not correct straight-pipe discharges within ten months of notification to be subject to penalties of $500 per month for each month of subsequent noncompliance.
Proper maintenance of SSTS is critical, especially for complex systems or systems on difficult sites. Databases or spreadsheets can be used to track required maintenance.
- Septic Tank Maintenance
- Septic Tank Maintenance Reporting Form (PDF Version)
- SSTS Abandonment Form (PDF Version)
- TWIST - The Wastewater Information System Tool (CD-ROM)