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Beltrami County Board: County must adopt MPCA rules on sewage systems

Beltrami County is prepared to adopt massive changes to its ordinance governing sewage systems, as directed by the state, which means more cost and additional staff.

The state has taken two years to work through changes to its Rule 7080, which regulates individual on-site sewage treatment systems, and is now mandating counties to conform to the new Rule 7080 by Feb. 4.

The issue will come before the Beltrami County Board during its 3 p.m. work session Tuesday in the County Administration Building, 701 Minnesota Ave.

Later during the work session, commissioners will continue their discussion of a proposed merger of the Beltrami Soil and Water Conservation District with the county. SWCD officials have been invited to the discussion.

A revised draft of the county's subsurface sewage treatment ordinance No. 32 has been approved by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, County Environmental Services Director Bill Patnaude says in a memo.

Among the changes are a different timeline in which imminent threat to public health or safety failing systems must be repaired or replaced, and that all septic systems must have a current certificate of compliance prior to sale.

Under consideration yet is a requirement that all drainfield systems in sandy soils be pressurized.

"The agency is insistent that counties are still going to be held to adopting the revisions by Feb. 4," Patnaude writes. "The Association of Minnesota Counties is putting together an effort on behalf of the counties in getting the MPCA commissioner's attention and have him delay the adoption of the revised rules."

Polk and Roseau county boards have passed resolutions that they oppose the adoption requirements and will not adopt them as required, Patnaude said.

Patnaude lists five major reasons why Beltrami County will have problems with the revisions, chiefly that MPCA is requiring counties to conduct an on-site visit with the purpose of certifying the soil classification that was submitted.

"As of June 21, 2004, Beltrami County no longer performs on-site inspections," Patnaude wrote. "With this requirement, it would require staff from the ESD to site check all site evaluations in the field. For instance, that would mean that in 2009, if this was in effect, we would have been required to be at 162 sites throughout the year."

And the requirement for pressurized systems in sandy soils, "the installation cost for homeowners becomes significantly increased because of the addition of a pump tank and pump," Patnaude wrote.

The work session opens with a meeting with Sen. Mary Olson, DFL-Bemidji, to talk about 2010 legislative priorities.

The board's regular meeting at 5 p.m., after electing a new chairman and vice chairman, includes a discussion of possibly joining a new Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Association to present a unified rural Minnesota front for legislative funding for recreation projects.

Commissioners will also discuss a Health and Human Services Economic Assistance Division reorganization proposal, filling an HHS Redby office position and authorizing a family health part-time registered nurse to a permanent full-time position.

Commissioners will continue discussions of 2010 committee assignments.

The County Board's consent agenda includes bills and warrant payment listing, award the legal publication for 2010, approve pawn and secondhand goods licenses, approve expanded short-term disability coverage and appointments to the Giziibii Resource Conservation and Development Board.

Approval will be asked for a resolution to authorize a Paul Bunyan Drug Task Force grant, for a wetland banking application for Carl Jeranek and for an Agassiz Wild Rice phase II wetland banking application.

Also on the consent agenda is approval of a memorandum of understanding for a County Road 50 project with the city of Bemidji, approval of the installation of stop signs, of a final pay voucher for three road projects.