Fixing the septic

Workers help put in a new septic system at Camp Cerith.

Otter Tail County has received grants to provide homeowners with financial assistance to replace noncompliant septic systems.  Financial assistance is in the form of grants and/or a zero-interest loan. Applications will be accepted from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 and the grant is first come first serve. If a resident has a noncompliant septic system they are encouraged to apply.

Otter Tail County is blessed with water, with over 1,000 lakes and groundwater.  Replacing noncompliant septic systems is a simple way to protect this precious natural resource,” said Chris LeClair, Land & Resource Department director. “This grant money allows Otter Tail County to assist homeowners protect our surface and groundwater.”

Last year, Otter Tail County allocated nine grants to low-income residents to replace noncompliant septic systems and 31 interest-free loans totaling $528,101.75. Natural resources were also protected by preventing over 4 tons of “suspended solids” and other contaminants from entering waterways.

Eric Ruther, owner of Ruther Excavating Inc., has installed septic systems under the loan and grant programs allocated by the county’s Land & Resource Department. “We see two or three a year that are pretty bad and could use some help — they drain into a swamp or a pipe into a ditch. If you have backups in your house or sewage in your yard you know your system has failed.”


Inspections are required to sell or change names on a property or complete work on a structure within 1,000 feet of lakeshore. Otherwise, residents must inspect their own sewer to understand the condition it is in.

North Central Camp Cherith, an interdenominational Christian camp located near Vergas, was required to install a new septic system before their 2021 season. “When we applied for building permits to construct two new buildings in the fall of 2018, we found out that we would be required to install a new septic system before our 2021 season. One day in late spring, my husband happened to notice an ad for the septic loan program offered through Otter Tail County. I immediately inquired, and our board voted to apply for a loan,” said Kendra Mohn, executive director of Camp Cherith. “I highly recommend looking into the county septic loan program. It’s not pleasant to have to take on this kind of expense, but the loan program definitely makes it much more manageable.”

Otter Tail County is here to help if residents that need a replacement. Visit or call 218-998-8095 for information about the grant and loan programs now being offered.


Subsurface Sewage Treatment Systems (SSTS) Local Cost Share Fix Up Fund Program

The Clean Water Fund has issued the county a grant of $15,000 which can be used to replace eligible SSTS in 2021. Keep in mind, grants will be awarded on a first-come first-serve basis until the grant funding for the fiscal yearhas been allocated.Grants will be awarded for up to 50% of the total cost of the replacement SSTS, not to exceed$5,000.


Zero Interest Septic Replacement Loan

The Minnesota Clean Water Partnership (CWP) and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) have awarded Otter Tail County with a grant to provide zero-interest loans to property owners to replace noncompliant subsurface sewage treatment systems (SSTS). Otter Tail County serves as the lender, as the cost of the system is assessed to the property owner’s property taxes, which is paid off over 10 years interest free. 


Load comments