Pine County Planning & Zoning is responsible for the administration and coordination of on-site septic treatment systems throughout the county. The department regulates the Pine County County Subsurface Sewage Treatment System Ordinance, along with incorporating by reference minimum standards established by Minnesota statutes and administrative rules of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). These regulations are intended to serve the best interests of the County's citizens by protecting their health, safety, general welfare and natural resources.
A septic compliance inspection is required for any permit applications submitted for properties in the shoreland area before a permit will be issued. An inspection is not required if the system was installed within the last 5 years or inspected within the last 3 years.
All counties within the State of Minnesota are required to adopt a new updated ordinance in 2014. Pine County’s new ordinance has an effective date of April 1, 2014. The new ordinance requires no immediate action from system owners and generally represents the minimum MPCA requirements with the exceptions of county-wide point of sale sewer compliance inspections and requiring all new systems to be sized for a class 1 dwelling.
Do I need a design for a holding tank or privy?
Yes. In accordance with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Rules Section 7082, all permit applications must include a site evaluation report, a design report, and a management plan.
**SSTS Management Plan is Required for ALL Designs**
Can I design my own system?
No. All SSTS systems must be designed by a state licensed designer.
Can I install my own system?
Yes, but only if you are the property owner and it is designed by a licensed designer. If you install a septic system for someone else you must be a State Licensed Installer.
Why might I need a mound septic system?
System requirements are determined by the State Licensed SSTS Designer, not the County or Township inspector. System designs are dependent on the quality of the soils (sand, clay, rock etc.) and the use (number of bedrooms, appliances, etc.). If your site has soil types that do not allow good percolation/drainage it may be required that good sand and rock be imported to create an above ground “mound”.
Can you recommend a local septic system designer, installer, or pumper?
No. We do, however, maintain a general list of SSTS professionals that work in the Pine County area. The MPCA web site also provides up to date and searchable licensing and contact information for SSTS contractors at the MPCA SSTS Business Licensing & Certification site. At this site you can search for Certified Individuals and/or all State Licensed Business entities.
If I sell my home is my septic system required to be inspected for compliance?
See Buying-Selling Property for more information
Starting April 1, 2014 any property which is sold for more than $1,000 requires a compliance inspection at the time of sale. Inspections can be completed by any licensed inspector if they are under the county's jurisdiction. Townships/Cities not under the county's jurisdiction may have a specific inspector that you may need to use, contact the city/township directly to find out.
What does a septic compliance inspection look for?
Compliance inspections look for three main items:
1) Is the septic tank water tight?
2) Is the system leeching to the surface?
3) Is there at least 2’ or 3’ (depending on when the system was installed) of dry soils
between the bottom of the soil treatment area (drain field) and the mottled soil (water
Do I need good soils to subdivide my property or can I just import sand and other materials and build a mound system?
The subdivision of property is regulated by the Pine County Subdivision Ordinance and any local Township zoning or other regulations. In accordance with State regulations, newly created lots require suitable soils for a standard septic system. A minimum of 12 inches of undisturbed Standard Soils must exist on the proposed lot(s) in order to qualify for the building of homes, cabins, or other residence structures. The first 12 inches of standard soils must exist on the site and can not be imported.
Where do I report concerns about septic systems?
Failing to treat sewage with a compliant septic system is a threat to the environment and surrounding property owners. Problem septic systems include open ended pipes, sewage or other discharges on the ground, collapsed mounds, leaking tanks, and other such observable SSTS failures. The State of Minnesota SSTS rules require immediate action for imminent threats and allow up to 10 months to fully repair or replace a failed system. To report a failed system a written Complaint Form must be completed and returned to the Department. If your Township is the permitting authority please contact them accordingly.
Who do I contact for my SSTS questions/permits?
Please review the Quick Reference Septic Jurisdiction List to see if you are under the county's jurisdiction or if your township/city has their own program for non-shoreland properties. A contact phone number is listed for each township/city.
Information about the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and septic systems
The MPCA Subsurface Sewage Treatment System web site has a tremendous amount of useful information. Please click the link to view and find out more. Also, we have put together this presentation about septic systems and are more than happy to come speak to your group about septic systems.