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Rushford offers option for MPCA issue

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Apr 26th, 2013
Posted in Rushford Agriculture

By Kirsten Zoellner

The 814 North Mill Street property of Jon Dammen has been on Rushford’s radar for a number of years. A remaining private septic system within the city limits, it has been racking up fines from Minnesota Pollution Control Agency since the system was declared failing by the county in the fall of 2010.

In 2009, when the city was in the midst of its Improvement Project, a plan to extend utility lines from Pine Meadows North further north to serve two residential properties and three potential future residential properties was in the works. By the fall of 2010, the city squared away issues with land agreements, but found difficulty in working out agreements to cross Mike Dammen’s land. That same fall, the county investigated Jon Dammen’s septic and declared it unrepairable.

Bids were taken by the city in August 2011 to finish installing the service lines to the north. A February 2012 meeting between the county, state, city, and the Dammens was held to discuss the issue again. Since that time, the city has been trying to hammer out agreements with both Jon and Mike Dammen for the services.

Now, the city is considering an option that would allow Dammen to have a holding tank installed for three to five years until an agreement can be reached. “There are things to iron out and the city may want to consider interim options with intention for an extension,” noted city Administrator Steve Sarvi. “We’ve studied this thing every which way to Sunday. For MPCA and the county, the important thing is that the failure stops. This isn’t a long-term solution. I would be comfortable with this option.”

“The only other option is a private system, but that goes against the city ordinance [prohibiting private systems]. I would prefer to have a private system, but I know the council wants otherwise,” acknowledged Dammen.

According to Sarvi, while MCPA and the county would prefer the problem be permanently remedied sooner, they’re willing to wait for the city to extend the line. “The city council wants the issue resolved from a pollution stand point,” added Sarvi, echoing the main concern. He indicated that the city will make a case for Dammen to have the fines lowered. The city will also consider the possibility of allowing the holding tank to be pumped and the contents dumped at the wastewater treatment plant to assist Dammen further.

“This needs to be done one way or another,” stressed Sarvi. “Both parties need to sign and move forward. We’re prepared to go out and get bids to hook up the water main if no agreement can be reached. We need to give ourselves a bit more time to do this right.”

Mayor Chris Hallum and Councilor Mark Honsey both noted that the city is willing to bend a bit to help Dammen. “We’re trying to make as good a situation as we can here Jon.” If Dammen signs the agreement, the holding tank option will be allowed for a term of five years, not to exceed that length. It’s expected that Sarvi will have an agreement for the council at the next meeting. The city will take a long at how often pumps are pulled and repaired. Typically, it’s done every five years.

“The important thing for the community to know that we’ve got adequate water and backup,” stressed Sarvi.

The next regularly scheduled council meeting is Monday, May 13, at 6:30pm, at city hall. The public is encouraged to attend.

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