New county ordinance for septic systems under review

WILLMAR -- A proposed ordinance that would revise how septic systems are regulated in Kandiyohi County was reviewed Monday by the Planning Commission.

WILLMAR -- A proposed ordinance that would revise how septic systems are regulated in Kandiyohi County was reviewed Monday by the Planning Commission.

A public hearing will be held March 9.

If approved, the county's existing ordinance for individual subsurface sewage treatment systems would be exchanged for one that incorporates new state rules.

The new ordinance would include much of the county's existing ordinance as well as new rules the state adopted a year ago after several years in the works.

Counties have until February of 2010 to adopt and implement the new mandatory state regulations.


The proposed county ordinance includes "what we (currently) have or what we have to have," said Eric VanDyken, assistant zoning administrator.

Some of the new state regulations will mean greater education and responsibility on the part of homeowners for how their systems operate.

For example, homeowners who install a holding tank are required by the state to have an operating permit. The main intent of the permit is to ensure that homeowners are informed and educated about the management of their system.

Management plans now mandated under state law will require homeowners to be knowledgeable about things like maintenance routines.

The state has "upped the level of education" that's required of homeowners, VanDyken said.

He said county staff is not proposing to add any new requirements beyond what the state is mandating.

"We haven't piled on a lot of extra requirements," VanDyken said.

They've also opted not to include some state recommendations that didn't see appropriate for the county.


For example, he said the state is recommending additional regulations for abandoning septic systems that would require installers to collect historical documentation of sites. Putting that in the ordinance could have unintended consequences, he said.

The board was also made aware of a complicated situation regarding ditch benefits and assessments that arose because of a gap in procedures when platting farm land into smaller lots.

The problem was discovered recently when an Irving Township landowner got a bill for $1,800 for repairs made to a drainage ditch, even though his land no longer benefits from the ditch.

Commissioner Harlan Madsen said the individual plated and sold much of his property to 18 different landowners whose land does benefit from the ditch and who should've paid a share of the cost. But because of the county's current ordinance, only the original property owner was assessed.

Madsen said efforts are being made to voluntarily resolve the issue between the landowners for this case, but said a change in ordinance or policy is needed to prevent similar problems from happening in the future.

Carolyn Lange is a features writer at the West Central Tribune. She can be reached at or 320-894-9750
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