Rural septic systems imperiled by mild winterby Tom Robertson, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is warning rural homeowners to protect their septic systems to prevent freeze-ups.
The lack of snow cover across most of the state is putting septic systems at risk. Snow serves to insulate septic tanks from frigid temperatures, and MPCA spokesman Dan Olson has some tips for people worried about damage to their systems.
"Before the cold temperatures come, if they have a chance, put some straw over their septic system," he said. "That would include the area between the house and their tank, and then the tank itself, as well as the area between the tank and the drain field."
Also, as the temperature drops and frost begins to permeate the ground, "Schedule maybe at least one laundry load a day of hot water going into the system, or running the dishwasher at least once a day, again, to keep energy and heat in the system to help prevent the possibility of a freeze-up," he said.
Olson said the MPCA and University of Minnesota web sites have other tips on protecting septic systems.
Thin snow cover and cold temperatures back in 2007 caused hundreds of septic systems to freeze up across the state.