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Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program

Homeowners and Educators Books

Nancye Belding, Secretary,
Tofte Schroeder Sanitary Sewer District
July 30, 2008

Project No. 306-STAR08-07

Contract No. B08883

This project was funded in part under the Coastal Zone Management Act, by NOAA’s
Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, in cooperation with Minnesota’s
Lake Superior Coastal Program.
Homeowners and Educators Book Grant

The Homeowners and Educators Book Grant was planned to kick off a three-year
wastewater management pilot project in the Tofte Schroeder Sanitary Sewer District by
providing each property owner and county educators with an informative book about
individual septic systems. A good reference book was seen as a way to raise awareness
about septic maintenance and build support for the idea of wastewater management.

The book selected was “The Septic System Owner’s Manual,” an excellent and highly
readable source of information about onsite wastewater treatment and preventive
maintenance. 350 copies were purchased at a 40 percent discount. Copies were and
mailed to all property owners and businesses in the district with onsite septic systems. In
addition, copies were mailed or hand-delivered to county and township officials, all
county schools and libraries, as well as Higher Education, Community Education and U
of MN Extension.

The district also received a $500 matching grant from the Roundup Program sponsored
by Arrowhead Electric Cooperative towards the book project.

A letter explaining the project and funding sources was taped to the inside cover of each
copy of the book (letter is attached to this report).

Response was favorable. District board members reported interesting discussions with
several constituents, especially about mound systems which were not reviewed favorably
in the book but are a virtual necessity for much of the land in Cook County. Higher
Education staff expressed interest in collaborating with the district on a seminar about
septic maintenance open to realtors as well as the public at large.

The district has also received two additional grants this year from the Clean Water
Legacy program which have aided in our goal of pursuing a wastewater management
plan:

• $20,000 for compliance inspections for one-half of the district (on the south side
of Highway 61) and $100 pumping rebates for the 14 homeowners who were
required to have their systems pumped as part of the inspection. This was a joint
project with Cook County, who also received funds for inspections of inland
lakes. The inspections have been completed and nearly half of the 133 systems
were deemed noncompliant, with 12 “Imminent Public Health Threats (IPHTs).”
This information underscores the enormous need for more education about septic
management near Lake Superior.

•$42,000 for a cost-share program to assist property owners with IPHT systems to
repair or replace them. We believe there to be about two dozen systems within the
district based on a survey conducted two years ago. This grant requires us to
develop cost-share guidelines and to hold a public seminar on septic system
maintenance. Attendance is open to all but is required of those applying for cost-
share assistance. The cost-share guidelines have been developed and the seminar
is scheduled for August 25th from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Birch Grove Community
Center in Tofte. A copy of the letter and attached cost share guidelines is
appended to this report. The remaining copies of “The Septic System Owner’s
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Manual” will be given out at the seminar. We anticipate holding at least one more
seminar at a later date for those who cannot attend on August 25th. We are also
researching other options for financial assistance to those whose systems were
deemed noncompliant and should have that information available at the seminar.

A press release was sent out explaining the STAR and CWL grants and was published in
our two county newspapers: The Cook County Star and the Cook County News Herald.
Chair Rick Anderson was also interviewed for our public radio station, WTIP, in
response to the press release. Copies of the Star and News Herald articles are attached as
separate documents in the electronic report format and a copy of the news release is also
appended to this report.

In short, the book grant has served its purpose admirably for the district by first
increasing awareness of the need for septic maintenance and management, and second,
helping with our Clean Water Legacy grants to identify and begin the process of repairing
noncompliant systems as well as creating a management plan for regular pumping and
inspections on a three-year cycle. We are now working with Karen Evens of MPCA to
continue the work begun with the book grant and the CWL grants to create a
management plan.

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Tofte-Schroeder Sanitary Sewer District

P.O. Box 2307 ∙ Tofte, MN 55615
E-Mail: tsssd@boreal.org
Richard Anderson, Chair
David Rude, Vice-Chair
Gary Kettleson, Treasurer
Nancye Belding, Secretary
Bruce Martinson
Paul James

March 2008

The Tofte Schroeder Sanitary Sewer District, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’
Lake Superior Coastal program, and the Arrowhead Electric Roundup grant program are pleased
to send you the enclosed book, The Septic System Owner’s Manual.

For property owners, it is our hope that this fun and interesting guide will give you some helpful
information about operation and maintenance of your onsite wastewater treatment system. For
educators and public officials in Cook County, we hope you will pass along the information in
this manual to your students and constituencies. Our goal is to protect our land and waters
through education and assistance that will prevent system failures.

If you would like additional copies for classroom or library use, please let us know and we will
try to provide them.

TSSSD has been working with Cook County to generate grants that will aid homeowners and
businesses in repairing or maintaining your septic systems. We want to work with you to generate
positive incentives such as septic tank pumping coupons and to promote responsible operation
and maintenance of wastewater treatment that has broad public support. If you would like be part
of a citizen’s committee to develop our incentive and education-based project, please let us know.

We are also including some website links to more information and publications that you may find
helpful from the U of MN Extension Service, as well as Cook County’s Soil & Water and
Planning & Zoning septic inspections programs. Contact us at tsssd@boreal.org if you have any
questions.

Happy reading.

Cook County Soil & Water website: http://www.co.cook.mn.us/sw/
Cook County Planning & Zoning including septic inspections information:
http://www.co.cook.mn.us/zoning/index.html
Minnesota Extension Service: http://www.extension.umn.edu/OnsiteSewage/

This project is supported in part by grants from Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program,
NOAA, and the Arrowhead Electric Operation Roundup Project.

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Tofte- Schroeder Sanitary Sewer District
P.O. Box 2307 ∙ Tofte, MN 55615
E-Mail: tsssd@boreal.org
July 28, 2008

Dear property owners,

The compliance inspections for properties south of Highway 61 have been completed and
owners have been notified of the results. In general, nearly 50 percent of the 133 systems
inspected were noncompliant and 12 of these were deemed Imminent Public Health Threats
(IPHTs)*. Based on the results of the survey conducted two years ago, we anticipate an equal
number of IPHTs on the north side of the highway.

The district has received two MPCA Clean Water Legacy grants: one, $20,000 to pay for the
inspections this summer as well as provide discounts to those required to pump their tanks; and
two, $42,000 toward a cost share program for income-eligible homeowners with IPHT systems.
The board has adopted income standards based on the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic sliding-scale
guidelines and has asked Grand Marais State Bank to review the applications to insure
confidentiality. The guidelines and income verification requirements are on the reverse side of
this letter. In general, up to $8,000 of matching assistance will be provided to qualified
applicants. The board is also exploring other sources of loans, grants and other assistance
available to all property owners who are required to repair or replace their systems.

Our funder is requiring that all recipients of the cost-share program attend a public seminar on
how to maintain their individual septic treatment systems. This seminar has been scheduled for
Monday, August 25th, 2008, in the Community Room of Birch Grove Community Center from
5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Leroy Halberg of the Cook County inspections staff, as well as MPCA
consultant Karen Evens and U of MN Cloquet Extension consultant Laurie Brown will be
presenters. The seminar is also open to the public at large. Refreshments will be served. For
those who can’t attend, we will hold another one later this year, probably in November.

For property owners on the north side of Highway 61 who feel they may have a system that is
an Imminent Public Health Threat (IPHT), please contact Cook County Environmental Health
(387-3632) to arrange for an inspection so that you can qualify for the cost-share program.

The board encourages all residents to attend the seminar on August 25th if possible, whether or
not their systems need repair or replacement. We all have an interest in maintaining water
quality in our district and throughout the Arrowhead region.

Sincerely,

Rick Anderson
Chair

* I.e., system either allows sewage effluent to surface for all or part of the year and/or has
tanks that are deemed to be dangerous due to potential structural failure

Clean Water Legacy Cost Share Program Eligibility 2008-2009

Applications for cost share assistance from the district’s $42,000 Clean Water Legacy grant
for repair or replacement of Imminent Public Health Threat (IPHT) septic systems will be
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reviewed by Grand Marais State Bank. Applicants will need to verify adjusted gross income
(from line 21 of IRS 1040A or line 37 of IRS 1040).
More information about the application process will be available at the public seminar on
Monday, August 25th from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. in the Community Room at Birch Grove
Community Center.

The chart below shows the cost-share required of individual families according to income
and number in family. A 0 percent cost-share means the family is eligible for the full cost
share match of up to $8,000 (or half of a total cost of $16,000). 25 percent means the family
pays 25 percent of the cost-share and is eligible for up to $6,000. 50 percent means the
family pays half of the cost share and is eligible for up to $4,000. 75 percent means the
family pays three-fourths of the cost share and is eligible for up to $2,000. 95 percent means
the family pays 95 percent of the cost share and is eligible for $400 of grant support. All
families can receive a minimum of $400 at the 95 percent level.

# in 0% 25% 50% 75% 95%
family
1 0- 10,401- 13,833- 17,681- 20,801+
10,400 13,832 17,680 20,800
2 0- 14,001- 18,621- 23,801- 28,801+
14,000 18,620 23,800 28,000
3 0- 17,601- 23,409- 29,921- 35,201+
17,600 23,408 29,920 35,200
4 0- 21,201- 28,197- 36,041- 42,401+
21,200 28,196 36,040 42,400
5 0- 24,801- 32,985- 42,161- 49,601+
24,800 32,984 42,160 49,600
6 0- 28,401- 37,773- 48,281- 56,801+
28,400 37,772 48,280 56,800
7 0- 32,001- 42,561- 54.401- 64,001+
32,000 42,560 54,400 64,000
8 0- 35,601- 47,349- 60,521- 71,201+
35,600 47,348 60,520 71,200

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, April 16, 2010

Tofte Schroeder Sanitary Sewer District
Rick Anderson, Chair
PO Box 2307
Tofte, MN 55615
tsssd@boreal.org

Tofte Schroeder Sewer District gets grants for inspections, fix-up and
educational manuals
In Tofte and Schroeder, compliance inspections of Individual Septic Treatment Systems have begun on the
approximately 100 lakeshore properties south of Highway 61. These inspections follow up a survey
conducted in the summer of 2006 by Minnesota Pollution Control Agency licensed inspector Jeff Crosby.
Crosby has been hired jointly by the district and the county to determine whether a system is in
compliance or requires repair or replacement.

The inspections are funded by a $20,000 Clean Water Legacy grant to the district from the MPCA. In some
cases, to complete the inspections a pumping of the septic tank may be required. The district anticipates
having some grant funds available to provide pumping discounts in cases of need. Crosby expects to
complete most of the inspections around the beginning of July, when letters will be sent by the county to
property owners describing the results.

A recent letter from Leroy Halberg, Cook County Environmental Health Inspector, and Rick Anderson,
TSSSD Chair, stated: “We all have a common desire that wastewater treatment systems in Cook County
and in the TSSSD adequately treat wastewater to protect our health, drinking water, and the
environment. The area along Lake Superior is very sensitive, and adequate wastewater treatment there is
important to us all.”

Crosby’s 2006 survey results suggest that as many as seven million gallons of wastewater per year are not
being adequately treated, in the Tofte Schroeder district alone. There are more than 300 wells in the
district as well as three rivers, many streams, and the shore of Lake Superior; all are affected by
wastewater.

The district has also received a CWL grant for $42,000 to help a limited number of property owners who
are required to repair or replace their systems. A cost share of up to $8,000 will be made available to
those systems identified as Imminent Public Health Threats, meaning that there is surfacing wastewater.
Income guidelines will be established, using the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic sliding fee scale.

Anderson says that the district wishes to engage public dialogue about the important issues of
noncompliant and failed septic systems as well as the best use of the $42,000 grant. Meetings are held on
the third Monday of each month at 5 p.m. at the Tofte Town Hall and everyone is welcome. Next steps
include a five-year plan for wastewater management that could serve as a pilot for the county as well as
other rural Minnesota communities.

Another big goal of the district is education of property owners about how to care for and maintain their
septic systems. Toward that end, every ISTS owner within the district was sent a copy of The Septic System
Owner’s Manual, a very readable and entertaining guide, with funds provided by grants from Minnesota’s
Lake Superior Coastal Program and the Arrowhead Electric Cooperative’s Roundup. Extra copies will be
available at a public seminar following the inspections, as well as to county educators interested in raising
awareness of septic maintenance issues.

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Tofte-Schroeder
Sanitary Sewer District
P.O. Box 2307 ∙ Tofte, MN 55615 ∙ tsssd@boreal.org

March 2008

Dear property owners and educators,

The Tofte Schroeder Sanitary Sewer District, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Lake Superior
Coastal program, and the Arrowhead Electric Roundup grant program are pleased to send you the enclosed
book, The Septic System Owner’s Manual.

For property owners, it is our hope that this fun and interesting guide will give you some helpful information
about operation and maintenance of your onsite wastewater treatment system. For educators and public officials
in Cook County, we hope you will pass along the information in this manual to your students and
constituencies. Our goal is to protect our land and waters through education and assistance that will prevent
system failures.

If you would like additional copies for classroom or library use, please let us know and we will try to provide
them.

TSSSD has been working with Cook County to generate grants that will aid homeowners and businesses in
repairing or maintaining your septic systems. We want to work with you to generate positive incentives such as
septic tank pumping coupons and to promote responsible operation and maintenance of wastewater treatment
that has broad public support. If you would like be part of a citizen’s committee to develop our incentive and
education-based project, please let us know.

We are also including some website links to more information and publications that you may find helpful from
the U of MN Extension Service, Cook County’s Soil & Water and Planning & Zoning septic inspections
programs as well as a summary of loan and grant programs available for septic upgrades and repairs. Contact us
at tsssd@boreal.org
Happy reading.

Cook County Soil & Water website:
http://www.co.cook.mn.us/sw/2007%20WEB%20Soil%20&%20Water%20Board%20&%20Staff.pdf
Cook County Planning & Zoning including septic inspections information:
http://www.co.cook.mn.us/zoning/index.html
Minnesota Extension Service: www.extension.umn.edu/OnsiteSewage/

This project is supported in part by grants from Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program, NOAA, and the
Arrowhead Electric Roundup Project.