News Flash

Wright County News

Posted on: June 16, 2020

County Looking to Access MPCA Funds to Help Repair Failing Septic Systems

On Jan. 1, 2020, the Crow River Organization of Water (CROW) was disbanded as Minnesota transitioned into the “One Watershed, One Plan” initiative. The CROW served 10 counties in a joint powers capacity – Carver, Hennepin, Kandiyohi, McLeod, Meeker, Pope, Renville, Sibley, Stearns and Wright counties. The mission of the CROW was to improve the water quality of the Crow River basin through educational outreach and collaboration with its partners and citizens.

One of the initiatives the CROW did for many years was administer a low-interest Subsurface Sewage Treatment System (SSTS) program through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Clean Water Partnership. The program allowed homeowners with non-compliant or failing septic systems to receive low interest loans to repair or replace them.

Wright County Environmental Health Officer Bill Stephens came before the Wright County Board of Commissioners at its June 16 meeting to request the opportunity to continue the SSTS program.

“I’m here ask the board to adopt a resolution to allow us to apply for the Clean Water Partnership loan program,” Stephens said. “This is for a low-interest septic loan program we’ve been running for 10 years. But, we were receiving our funding through the Crow River Organization of Water. They were the organization that was actually acquiring the loans through the MPCA. Since they disbanded, we’re now kind of left to do it ourselves.”

The county board unanimously approved a resolution allowing Stephens to submit the application for funding through the MPCA to keep the program operational in Wright County. The county will ask for $500,000 in funding over a three-year period.

Commissioner Mike Potter praised the effort, since the reporting documents estimated that 19 percent of septic systems in Wright County were failing or non-compliant. Given the value of water resources to the county, maintaining the program is critical to continuing the effort to keep lakes, rivers and streams in the county clean of septic runoff.

“This is important for Wright County,” Potter said. “We have a lot of lakes and want to keep them clean. This is the way for people who have subsurface sewage issues a way to get them in compliance. It’s been a challenge for Wright County and a lot of places for a long time. This is one of those programs I like supporting because it helps all of us.”

Stephens said the program has been well received by county residents and has helped fix many septic systems and, in turn, protect the water quality in Wright County. He added that his office is merely picking up the baton from the CROW to keep the loan program from going away.

“I want to give total credit to the Crow River Organization of Water for getting us in this program to start with,” Stephens said. “We just want to continue it locally ourselves.”

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