Sewer connection ordinance change in early stages

Monday, January 8, 2018

During the Spencer Public Works Committee meeting on Tuesday night, committee members discussed a potential ordinance change regarding the process property owners use to hook up to municipal sewer utilities when they become available.

Interim City Manager Brian Weuve noted that there are only a handful of property owners in city limits who are not connected to the city’s sewer utilities.

“Right now, our ordinance states that when sewer becomes available — and that is basically anywhere within striking distance of your property — you have 90 days to connect to our sewer,” Weuve said.

“... (The idea) is to eliminate the 90 day connection period and extend that to a five-year window — from the date sewer is available you have five years to connect, if at anytime within that five years let’s say your septic fails, well then you automatically connect at this point.”

“... We thought 90 days was too little,” Public Works Director Mark White said.

Rich Prentice, Public Works Committee vice-chair, sought information regarding the lifespan of private septic systems.

“If you just put in a new septic tank, how long do they usually last?” Prentice asked

“Twenty-five years,” White said. “There’s certainly systems that have been around many, many years, but probably not compliant. Many of them probably last more than seven years.”

During discussion, members agreed to the possibility of property owners gaining an additional five-year extension to the first five years by having a proper inspection and certification performed on their current system.

“When and if sewer becomes available, then we would give them five years to connect instead of 90 days,” Weuve said. “If they have a working system, (there’s) the possibility of having it inspected and certified (for a one time) five-year extension (making the total time to connect 10 years).”

The committee decided to move forward with the proposed ordinance change, which is expected to be an agenda item at the Monday, Jan. 15, Spencer City Council meeting.

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