On July 1, the Le Sueur County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously, with Commissioner Steven Rohlfing abstaining, to hold an improvement hearing regarding the West Jefferson Lake Sanitary Sewer Improvement project on July 23.
The vote came after commissioners received a feasibility report from Highway Department Director Dave Tiegs. The proposal, prepared by engineering consultant Bolton & Menk, Inc., calls for the construction of a low-pressure wastewater collection system.
On July 23, the County Board of Commissioners will hold a hearing on the improvements. If the project is awarded, construction is expected to begin Aug. 15 and be completed by Nov. 30, 2020.
Tiegs told the board that up to 140 properties in areas surrounding West Jefferson Lake may voluntarily petition to have their private service lines connected to the city of Cleveland’s Sanitary Sewer System. The proposal calls for each property to be connected to a new grinder pump station. That station will pump waste to a main lift station north of West Jefferson Lake, by the intersection of 464th Street and 285th Avenue. The main lift station will then connect to the Cleveland Wastewater Treatment Ponds, where the wastewater will receive its final treatment.
The sewer improvement project will cost an estimated $6.09 million, most of which will be paid for by the state and benefiting properties. About 80% of the funding will be provided by a Point Source Implementation Grant (PSIG) from the Minnesota Public Facilities Authority (PFA). The remaining costs, about $1.29 million, will be paid for by a Clean Water Revolving Fund Loan from the PFA, which will be repaid by petitioning properties on West Jefferson Lake that have voluntarily chosen to have their private lines connected to the city of Cleveland’s wastewater facilities. An estimated $4,150 of county funds will be used to further the project.
The improvement project dates back to 2011, when Le Sueur County hired a consultant to take inventory of septic systems in the German Jefferson Lake Area. The reports found that between 52% and 66% of septic systems in the area were compliant with government regulations. That meant hundreds of systems in the area were non-compliant.
“A lot of these properties were cabins in the area. They weren’t being bought or sold and the county didn’t require them to be periodically updating their septic systems,” said County Engineer Darrell Pettis. “Many of the systems were installed before 2007 and regulations changed since then.”
Residents in the West Jefferson Lake Area decided to update the sewer system, but requested that the county not be involved. The County Board of Commissioners gave residents two to three years to update their systems in compliance with regulations.
“There was no feasible option for improving individual systems,” said Pettis. “Residents looked at a cluster system. It would have cost $40,000 per parcel for the cluster system, so landowners funded a feasibility study and realized there was no viable solution to do this alone.”
Residents in the Jefferson Lakes area came to an agreement with Cleveland to connect to the city sewer system. To receive funding for this project, landowners elected to join into a subordinate service district.
Members of the subordinate service district will pay off the Clean Water Revolving Fund loan. Currently, 128 properties have petitioned into the West Jefferson Subordinate Service District and the average property is expected to payback $9,455 each according to preliminary estimates.
Commissioner Steven Rohlfing is a member of the subordinate service district, which is why he abstained from the vote.