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 costshare 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 2|Page

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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July 28, 2008

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

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 family 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

0% 010,400 014,000 017,600 021,200 024,800 028,400 032,000 035,600

25% 10,40113,832 14,00118,620 17,60123,408 21,20128,196 24,80132,984 28,40137,772 32,00142,560 35,60147,348

50% 13,83317,680 18,62123,800 23,40929,920 28,19736,040 32,98542,160 37,77348,280 42,56154,400 47,34960,520

75% 17,68120,800 23,80128,000 29,92135,200 36,04142,400 42,16149,600 48,28156,800 54.40164,000 60,52171,200

95% 20,801+ 28,801+ 35,201+ 42,401+ 49,601+ 56,801+ 64,001+ 71,201+

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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.

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