Mower County says it has replaced over 400 sub-standard septic systems since 2020 | Freeborn/Mower counties
AUSTIN, Minn. – Mower County Environmental Services says it oversaw the replacement of 92 non-compliant subsurface wastewater treatment systems (SSTS) in 2023.
Mower County Environmental Commissioner Angela Lipelt says non-compliant wastewater treatment plants endanger human health and the environment because they don't properly treat wastewater before it reaches groundwater.
Approximately 64 percent of these SSTS were replaced in the Cedar River watershed, which covers the western half of Mower County. while 33 SSTS were installed in the Root River watershed in eastern Mower County. Red Rock Township, northeast of Austin, had the most septic tank changes last year, with 11, of the 20 townships in Mower County. LeRoy Township had the second-highest number with nine septic tank installations, followed by Adams and Austin townships with eight each.
The Mower County Board launched an initiative in 2020 to accelerate SSTS compliance across the county, resulting in 128 new septic systems being installed that year, the highest since 125 systems were installed a decade earlier, and In 2023, the total number of SSTS exchanges increased to 430.
“Mower County’s septic tank initiative continues to make a huge difference,” Lipelt said.
Through its SSTS program, Mower County offers some assistance options to property owners, including:
– Septic tank loan of up to 90 percent of the cost of the replacement system, payable over 10 years as a tax assessment.
– Compliance inspection vouchers (if available) if required to review a land use permit.
– Grants for low-income earners; A suitable example is a family of four with an annual income of less than $66,650.
According to Mower County, there are more than 4,000 properties with a septic system. The county estimates that 75 percent of these systems are in compliance, another 22 percent are considered inadequate to protect groundwater and 3 percent are considered an “imminent threat to public health and safety.”
Prior to 2020, the county said it typically found about 17 non-compliant septic systems each year. Since the ordinance was passed, county staff has identified about 30 non-compliant systems annually.
Mower County Environmental Services, 1105 Eighth Ave. NE in Austin, can assist with low-interest loans for septic tank replacement and other septic tank questions at (507) 437-7718 and online at: www.co.mower.mn.us/486/. Septic systems