Septic system owners are responsible for system maintenance. Properly maintaining a septic system will extend its life. Owners must employ state-licensed maintenance businesses to periodically pump out solids from septic tanks to properly maintain septic systems. If solids aren't removed, the material can accumulate and move into the drainfield and cause it to fail, or even backup into the residence or business. Minnesota rules require that the system be assessed at least once every three years, though local ordinances may be more stringent or have additional requirements. The assessment must include:
- checking the sewage tank for leaks below the designed operating depth, or if the sewage tank tops, riser joints, or riser connections leak.
- measuring accumulations of scum and sludge depths.
Tank contents must be removed through the maintenance hole, not the inspection pipes, to ensure all solids are removed and the tank baffles are not damaged. The baffles should be inspected when the tank is pumped.
The Sewage tank maintenance reporting form may be used to certify compliance of an SSTS's sewage tank (see page three), when completed and signed by a qualified professional. The form is not a complete SSTS inspection report.
MPCA-licensed SSTS maintainers may temporarily store up to 50,000 gallons of septage in registered underground storage tanks without a state permit, if the following conditions are met:
- No more than 50,000 gallons of septage is stored
- Local construction permits are issued, which may include operating permits, at local discretion
- If the septage is land applied, the work must be done by an MPCA-licensed SSTS maintenance business
- Storage tanks used for underground storage must be verified and listed by the MPCA under Minn. R ch. 7080
- Tanks and facility must meet the requirements for holding tanks in Minn. R. ch. 7080.2290
- If a maintenance business seeks storage on more than one site, the MPCA permit threshold will be evaluated based on the provision of Minn. R. ch. 7081.0040, subp. 1(B)
- All other local requirements must be met (setbacks, zoning considerations, etc.)
The temporary septage storage permit is an operating permit template developed for local units of government to use and modify, as needed.
Wastewater treatment facilities
Septage may be disposed of at permitted wastewater treatment plants for further processing only if approved by the treatment plant. The maintainer (pumper) must contact the wastewater treatment plant to determine if the plant will accept septage, the cost for dumping at the facility, and associated requirements.
Septage land application
Those applying septage to land in Minnesota must follow U.S. EPA land application regulations:
- Federal Land Application of Septage Regulations - 40 CFR part 503 — Regulates land application of septage
- Federal Land Application of Solid Waste Regulations - 40 CFR Part 257 — Regulates land application of biosolids
The MPCA does not directly regulate land application of septage but, through the SSTS licensing program, requires that any applicable state and local government requirements be followed. Licensed maintainers are responsible for checking local ordinances before applying septage.
Minnesota septage guidelines
- State guidelines incorporate federal 503 requirements
- SSTS Maintenance Forms (U of MN)