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Hearing set for changes in Cass sewer ordinance

WALKER – Cass County will conduct a public hearing before the planning commission at 11 a.m. Feb. 10 at the land department building in Backus on proposed changes to the county’s individual sewer system regulations.

Comments received at that meeting will be incorporated into a final draft for the county commissioners to review at their 9 a.m. regular meeting Feb. 18 at the land department building in Backus before considering whether to adopt the revised ordinance.

Environmental Services Director John Ringle told the county board Tuesday he already has incorporated some changes licensed sewer contractors made at a Dec. 19 meeting.

The ordinance revisions are designed to help the county comply with revisions to the state’s rules on private sewer systems in Chapter 7080.

The state made revisions in 2011 and set February 2014 for counties to match its rules.

Ringle said Cass has worked with Crow Wing County to make ordinances in the two counties very similar, because many licenses contractors work across county lines here.

Copies of the revised Cass ordinance and links to the state’s 7080 will be available on the Cass website at or by calling the environmental services department at (218) 547-7241 or stopping at the office in the courthouse in Walker.

Public comment will be received not only at the public hearings, but also up until the planning commission hearing by mailing to Ringle at P.O. Box 3000, Walker, MN, 56484, or emailing to Ringle at Ringle can be reached by phone at (218) 547-7256.

Ringle said most changes in the state regulations are for commercial size sewer systems rather than for residences, so there are not major changes in the county’s ordinance concerning residential sewer systems.

Cass has had a clause requiring an updated sewer system certificate of compliance when people apply for a new zoning permit. That will continue. It is new in the state rules. Certificates continue to be valid for three years.

There must be at least one cleanout at or above finished grade installed between the structure and septic tank, with additional cleanouts at intervals not more than 100 feet.

Size requirements for residential systems in 7080 now call for homes with three bedrooms to have a 1,000 gallon tank; with four or five bedrooms, a 1,500 tank; with six or seven bedrooms, a 2,000 gallon tank; and eight or nine bedrooms a 2,500 gallon tank. The state rules further set size requirements for community systems and multiple dwellings.

There are new rules for pump tank sizing.

There is a new requirement when installing a new system that installers must dig by shovel or backhoe a hole at least three feet deeper than the lowest pipe in a drainfield next to the system, which inspectors can view to verify the system is that much above ground water. The hole then may be covered when the system is covered after inspection.

Only residences and wells, not uninhabited accessory structures such as decks, garages, sheds or porches, will be required to meet setbacks from sewer systems.

Some privies must now be vaulted and have a storage tank holding at least 55 gallons.