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Beltrami County to adopt new septic regulations

BEMIDJI — The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has put new regulations in place that will affect property owners in Beltrami County.

Bill Patnaude, environmental services director for Beltrami County, outlined the changes to Ordinance 32, the ordinance that governs standards for all new and existing septic systems in the county, to County Commissioners at this week’s board meeting.

“What the state has done is they have taken the rules and they have broken them down into actually four categories,” Patnaude said. “One of the major changes is that any systems that are greater than 2,500 gallons per day, of wastewater, has to go through the MPCA.”

Systems using more than 2,500 gallons per day will require advance design, which is available through the county’s environmental services office. Licensing, product registration, insulation, tank sizing, operating permits and maintenance practices are among the changes in the ordinance. Tanks will now be based on the size of a building, not the number of people residing in a home.

“Before, you could have 12 inches of cover over the access cover, now you have to bring the access cover up to the ground surface,” Patnaude said.

Commissioner Richard Anderson clarified the changes are for new septic systems being installed and old ones are grandfathered in. However, when a property is sold or transferred, a compliance inspection will be conducted. Compliance checks are already required on shoreline properties.

“In my business, we put up a new deck this year and that triggered a septic compliance inspection,” said Commissioner Jack Frost. “Yes, it’s expensive, but you know what? It’s nice to know that in the peak of summer you can go out there and look at that system and know that it’s working, doing its job and in compliance. Makes me sleep better.”

Commissioner Jim Lucachick agreed the ordinance has a lot of impact on the lakes area and has an impact on development properties.

A second reading of Ordinance 32 will be held along with a public hearing Dec. 3 during the commissioners’ regular 5 p.m. board meeting at the county administration building.

Crystal Dey
Crystal Dey covers crime, courts, tribal relations and social issues for The Bemidji Pioneer in Bemidji, Minnesota. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey has worked for the Echo Press in Alexandria, Minnesota, The Forum in Fargo, North Dakota, The Tampa Tribune in Tampa, Florida, the Hartford Courant in Hartford and West Hartford News in West Hartford, Connecticut. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.
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