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Paynesville Press - Nov. 12, 2003

Roscoe letting bids for city-wide septic system

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

The city of Roscoe should soon begin construction on a new city-wide septic system.

Bids for the project will be opened on Tuesday, Nov. 18. City officials hope that construction on the project can begin immediately and should be completed by next spring, said Mike Christian, a member of the Roscoe City Council.

The new sewer system includes installing septic tanks, most shared by three or more residential units, in utility easements between properties. The septic tanks will drain into a common drainfield to be built on the west side of town near the ballpark.

Residents should pay about $5,000 per residential unit for the system. Part of that will be in the form of special assessments of approximately $3,000.

The remainder will be paid by a monthly user fee of $20 per month. Once the system is paid off, the user fee could be reduced, Christian added.

Originally, the city hoped to use a rural development grant to pay for the project, but officials learned that the project would need to be much larger to qualify for the grant, and even then, the city's share would still be higher than $300,000, the estimated cost of the proposed system.

To help reduce costs, residents sold utility easements and their current septic systems to the city for $1, said Christian. "Everyone was very civic-minded," he said. Even those with new septic systems sold them to the city for $1, he added.

The city of Roscoe considered installing a city-wide septic system as far back as 1976, when the city received a $92,000 grant for a city water system. The city considered a city-wide septic system then but was not eligible for a grant to pay for it.

In 2000, officials began researching wastewater options again because a moritorium excluding Roscoe residents from individual septic system inspections was due to expire unless a city-wide system was installed. A new system was approved by city residents in September 2002.

Currently, most of Roscoe's 57 residential units have septic systems that include septic tanks and drainfields. Some of these individual systems are failing or do not meet the code set by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).

Failing septic systems are a health hazard, and the city has feared that continuing to have residents operate individual systems will not be a long-term option due to lack of space.

In fact, some emergency tanks have already been installed in the city. New tanks will be tied into the new city-wide system when it is complete.

The city will be responsible for the maintenance and testing of the new system.

Because tanks will be pumped regularly and water draining into the drainfield is filtered twice - once for fibers and once for microbes - the drainfield will disperse clean water, which should increase the life of the system, said Christian. The system should last at least 40 years, compared to 20 years for a typical city sewer system.

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