Faribault business taking steps to fix sewage violations

Contact: Cathy Rofshus,507-206-2608

Rochester, Minn. — LaRoche’s Inc., a septic system maintenance business in rural Faribault, has agreed to comply with state rules designed to protect public health and the environment from untreated sewage after a state inspection found several violations.

From 2008-2012, the business over-applied sewage to two hay fields in Rice County by 311,631 gallons, according to a records review by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). State rules permit the application of sewage pumped from septic tanks to cropland under certain conditions and procedures. LaRoche’s failed to comply with these rules. State rules require treatment of sewage or incorporation into the ground to minimize pathogenic contamination. The rules require certain application rates to minimize nitrate infiltration to lakes, streams and groundwater.

The business also failed to register a tank used for storing several thousand gallons of sewage. State rules require tank registration with the local county or state to ensure proper tank design, installation and maintenance. These rules are designed to prevent releases of untreated sewage into the environment.

In addition to taking steps to comply with these rules, LaRoche’s must pay a $14,000 penalty to the agency and submit an article on tank permitting to an industry newsletter called “Dirt Digger.”

The penalty and conditions are part of stipulation agreement between LaRoche’s and the MPCA. This type of agreement is one of the tools the agency uses to achieve compliance with environmental laws. When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it was a first-time or repeat violation, and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities. The agency also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.

For more information on septic systems, the MPCA offers guidance, including current rules, on its website (search for “Subsurface Treatment Systems”).