Free classes teach homeowners the value of maintaining septic systems, well testing

The Onsite Sewage Treatment Program (OSTP) teamed up with instructors from the Minnesota Department of Health and U of M Extension, offering workshops to SSTS Professionals and private well/septic system owners. Seventeen workshops were offered to homeowners across Minnesota, hosted by local partners, with 700 citizens attending. The OSTP trained nearly 900 professionals at fifteen workshops.  

The intent of the public workshops was to enhance homeowner awareness of Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs), understand why they should be involved in this aspect of groundwater protection, and help them create a clear maintenance plan resulting in a reduction of CECs in the groundwater. Sources of CECs include pharmaceuticals, pesticides, industrial effluents, and personal care products that are washed down drains. Well testing kits given out during the homeowner classes, allowed well owners to test for nitrate, Arsenic, E. coli and fecal coliform.

Following the official MDH-sponsored workshops, OSTP continues to partner with local organizations. Lake County hosted two more SSTS and well homeowner classes in May and June of 2021.

Homeowners who completed post-workshop surveys reported that they were making routine changes within their home to benefit their SSTS operation and renewed commitment to testing their wells:

“This was an excellent presentation with articulate speakers and many helpful graphics to aid visual learners.  As an offshoot, they should make some Public Service Announcements to educate folks in locations where private wells and septic systems are more common as well as to dispel myths and inefficient/detrimental practices that people have just ‘always done.’" 

The webinar version of the course was recorded and posted to the project website along with the slide set and factsheet: