Septic System Information
Why Are Septic Systems Necessary?
Over 25 percent of Minnesota households use on-site sewage treatment systems, commonly referred to as septic systems, to treat their wastewater. While septic systems are designed and installed by licensed professionals to meet the needs of individual sites, homeowners are responsible for the system 's operation and maintenance. Often septic systems fail because owners do not maintain them after installation.
What Do Septic Systems Do?
Septic systems protect human health and the environment by safely recycling wastewater back into the natural environment. Septic systems treat wastewater as well as, or better than, municipal treatment systems at a reasonable cost when properly designed, installed, operated, and maintained.
Federal, state, and local regulation of on-site systems focuses on proper treatment of sewage to protect citizens, communities, and the environment.
Residents in areas without access to public sewer systems maintain their own septic systems or subsurface sewage treatment systems (SSTS). A poorly functioning septic system is a threat to human health and the environment because it may not remove pathogens, nutrients and other chemicals from the used water before it enters our groundwater or lakes.
Understand your system
A septic system has three parts:
- household plumbing,
- a tank to collect sewage and solids, and
- a soil treatment area.
All three parts must be working to provide effective sewage treatment.
Properly maintain your system
Many septic system owners assume as long as their used water “goes away,” their system must be working properly. Septic systems must be designed specifically for your site’s conditions and installed correctly. Only regular maintenance and evaluation of the system can ensure that it is actually treating your sewage.
Look for symptoms of a poorly functioning septic system. These include a pipe that goes directly to the lake or ground (even laundry water!), sewage surfacing in the yard or a ditch, sewage odors, high levels of nitrates or coliform bacteria in well water tests, or algae blooms and excessive plant growth in nearby ponds or lakes.
Manage your system
These operation and maintenance guidelines will prevent costly repairs or premature replacement of your septic system.
- Conserve water, repair leaks and use low-flow fixtures.
- Spread water usage throughout the day and week. If you have periods of high use, talk to a septic professional about options that will help your system manage your lifestyle.
- Minimize use of harsh cleaners, bleach, antibacterial soaps and detergents.
- Do not dispose of paints, medications or chemicals through your septic system.
- Keep grease, lint, food, feminine hygiene products and plastics out.
- Pump solids through tank’s maintenance hole regularly — at least every three years.
- Do not remove solids through inspection pipes.
- Install and insulate risers to maintenance hole for improved management access.
- Have baffles inspected when tank is pumped.
- Install an effluent screen and service as necessary.
- Do not use tank additives or cleaners.
Soil treatment area
- Maintain grass, native grasses or flowers over the treatment area. Mow, but do not fertilize, water or burn.
- Do not plant trees, shrubs or deep-rooted plants on or near the area.
- Do not grow vegetables or locate playgrounds above the area.
- Keep heavy vehicles off area (cars, tractors, snowmobiles, boats, etc.).
Hire a licensed professional to help you
The MPCA maintains a list of professionals currently licensed by the state to conduct this specialized work. Interview your septic system professional and learn about how they do business. Make sure they are licensed, reputable and reliable by asking for and checking references.
Since local ordinances can vary from the state code, always check with your local government (township, city or county) to determine the requirements in your area.
- MPCA septic system webpage
- University of Minnesota Homeowner Information
- University of Minnesota Septic System Owner’s Guide
Seasonal Care You will be redirected away from the City's website by clicking on the following links.
- Checking Frozen Septic Systems
- Freezing Problems & Septic Systems
- The Problem with High Efficiency Furnaces, Water Softeners & Iron Filters Discharging into Onsite Sewage Systems
- Start Your Septic System Out on the Right Foot for Spring
- Protecting Your Septic System From Flood Damage
- Septic System Cleaners
- Septic System Additives
- Taking Care of Your Septic System (.pdf)
Septic System Pumpers
(The following companies' contact information is provided as a resource for residents. The City does not endorse any of the septic pumpers listed on this website. The contact information is provided as a courtesy to residents.)
Swedlund Septic Services