Area News | Home | Marketplace | Community

Return to Archived Stories

Paynesville Press - July 31, 2002

Roscoe considers city-wide sewer system

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

The city of Roscoe held an informational meeting on Monday, July 22 to address building a city-wide sewer system.

Roscoe, a city of 136, has 57 residential units. All of these units are required to have some kind of Individual Sewage Treatment System (ISTS), many using septic tanks and drainfields.

According to city council member Mike Christian, many of these systems are failing or do not meet the current code set by Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). The city would like to do something before residents are forced to install new systems.

Currently, Roscoe is exempted from inspections at the time of a sale by a moratorium that allowed residents five years to come into compliance with the code. This moratorium is due to expire... unless the city agrees to build a city-wide system.

Failing systems are a health hazard because they can contaminate groundwater, and failing systems lower property values, said John Kolb, an attorney who is advising the city.

While all residences in the city may be able to install a compliant system now, as the city grows, there may not enough space available for individual septic systems in the future.

Kolb suggested a system that would use septic tanks, most shared by three or more residential units and a common drainfield, built on the west end of town past the ballpark. The estimated cost for a city-wide sewer like this is $297,000.

The new tanks would be installed in utility easements between properties, and the pipes would be installed in alleys wherever possible to minimize the amount of residential property that would be torn up. Water would be carried by gravity to the drainfield where possible and by pumps where necessary.

Such a system has a life expectancy of 50 years or more. It would be monitored by the city to insure that the ground water was safe and could have a positive effect on property values.

If it decides to pursue a city-wide sewer system, the city council would like to have it in place before more residents have to replace failing or non-compliant systems.

The system, which would be financed with a low interest Rural Development loan, would cost approximately $5,200 per residential unit and would be covered either by special assessments, user fees, or a combination of the two. A show of hands by the 30 residents at the meeting indicated they would prefer a combination to keep the monthly user fee low.

Christian suggested a couple of ways to help keep costs down. One way would be for residents to sell utility easements to the city for one dollar. A show of hands indicated that residents would go along with this, too.

Another way to cut costs would be to use new tanks owned by residents. This would have the added benefit of compensating residents who have recently installed systems.

Another way of compensating residents with new, compliant systems would be to allow them to hook up to the city system at a later date.

The matter will now go before a public hearing, but, based on the positive response at the meeting, mayor Don Heinen said that he has no doubt the project will be approved.

If the city approves the project, planning and bidding could take place during the winter and construction could begin in the spring. The engineer said the project could be finished before August 2003, in time for the Roscoe Fun Days.

Contact the author at   •   Return to News Menu

Home | Marketplace | Community