Weather Forecast


Septic system concerns to be addressed at public meeting

There has been some confusion about Otter Tail County’s sanitation code since revisions took effect in August, and an informational meeting has been set up to address any concerns or questions.

“The bottom line is whether a septic system is up to code before the sale of property,” said county board chairman Doug Huebsch at a recent board meeting. “Right now, things are somewhat controversial. With the informational meeting, our goal will be to simplify things.”

Board members also want to calm property owners, real estate agents and others who are concerned about liability issues. Board members hope to assure them that, in the end, the process is fair for both sellers and buyers.

Revisions to the county’s sanitation code took effect Aug. 1, leaving many to wonder about sanitation compliance certificates and whether sellers or buyers of property are responsible for adequate septic systems.

The goal of the sanitation code, as noted in the document, is to protect surface and ground water from contamination by human sewage, to protect public health and safety and eliminate or prevent the development of public nuisances. It includes guidelines for proper locations of sewage disposal as well as design, construction, operation, maintenance and repair.

According to County Land and Resource Director Bill Kalar, “The ordinance applies to incorporated and unincorporated areas of the county,”

As noted in the code document, if the sale or transfer of property occurs during the winter dates of Nov. 15 through April 15, the buyer must complete the compliance inspection. The deadline to bring the system up to compliance would be the following June 1.

Ultimately, the buyer is held responsible by the county if the septic system is noncompliant and not brought into compliance within the timeframe.

The certificate is to be submitted to the county along with the property transfer. If the seller does not provide a valid certificate of compliance, the buyer is responsible for providing the certificate to the county within 30 days of the property transaction.

A valid compliance inspection is conducted by a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency-designated registered professional. A county sewage treatment system property transfer form must be signed by both the buyer and seller and then filed with the county auditor at the time of sale or transfer of the property.

There are exemptions, under certain circumstances.

More information can be obtained by contacting the Land and Resource Office at 218-998-8095.

The public informational meeting on the sanitation code will be held Thursday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. at the County Government Services Center in Fergus Falls.

Tom Hintgen, Otter Tail County Correspondent