Lake Elmo adopts transition policy for Old Village septic systems

A cooperative project with Washington County will bring sanitary sewer service to Lake Elmo’s downtown area from 30th Street North to Trunk Highway 5 beginning in 2015. While this is encouraging news to property owners in the area, many are questioning how to deal with failing septic systems in the interim.

Many homeowners in the Old Village area of Lake Elmo have private septic systems that exceed 20 years in age and were built under state law that did not require as much soil separation as current law. Subsequently, when these systems need to be replaced these same homeowners find themselves with little or no room for the replacement, especially lake shore homeowners. This problem becomes compounded when the house is placed for sale with many homeowners finding that they must either discount the sales price or escrow funds for a system replacement. With city sewer services imminent, Lake Elmo, in cooperation with Washington County, thought it prudent to develop an interim policy that allows property owners to bridge the gap between having to install a new system and hooking up to city sewer. 

The city, in concert with Washington County and the city attorney, has constructed a two-fold policy that allows for temporary use of holding tanks for systems that are deemed to be an imminent health threat and a continued use of non-compliant systems until sewer is installed in the Old Village beginning in 2015. The policy places operational control of system review in Washington County’s hands for the determination of system viability. Current city code allows for a two-year grace period for hook-up to city sewer when it is made available at the curb. Systems found to be either a health threat or non-complaint would not be allowed the grace period. For more information, call City Hall at 651-747-3900.

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