Joint Meeting Notes: Helmsburg and Brown County RSD, Apr 25, 2023.

Background. Application for funding via Preliminary Engineering Reports (PERs) were submitted to the State on March 31, 2023, by the Helmbsurg Regional Sewer District (HRSD) and the Brown County RSD (BCRSD).  Link to the PERs

The Proposed Phase I (see Map) of expanding sewers includes a Western corridor (Helmsburg to Lake Lemon and an Eastern Corridor – Helmsburg to Bean Blossom and Woodland Lake. The BCRSD collects the wastewater. Helmsburg RSD will process.

Public Hearing – July 8, 2023.   The required public hearing is scheduled for Saturday, July 8, 2023 from 10am to noon at the Brown County Fairgrounds – 4H community building.

    • The hard copy PERs are to be available at 4 locations to include the library.
    • The hearing provides the opportunity to go on record with questions, your support, or lack of support.


    • The PERs are based on the County Wastewater Strategic Plan and Watershed Study. I recommend a review of the short video presentations.
      • Water Quality. The watershed study confirms that the major cause of e.coli in streams IS NOT failing septic systems but pastureland.  Even if there was a 100% failure rate of septic systems, the main cause would still be pastureland.
      • 5 OF 22 water samples did indicate human-caused e.coli likely due to inadequate septic systems.  No additional analysis is planned to identify “how many” systems may be contributing to the problem. 80% of the problem could be due to 20% of the systems.
      • Soils. The study cites that the federal government (USDA) concludes that Brown County Soils are not suitable for septic systems. This is in conflict with State policy that requires soil testing before a septic permit is granted.
      • Presby Systems. No mention that Presby Systems treat wastewater before it is released into the soil which negates the poor soil argument.  Presby also identified that their systems have an indefinite life if installed and maintained properly.  Presbys are being used as replacement systems in the county.
      • Pharmaceuticals. Indications of pharmaceuticals in the water samples are to be expected. “The highest detections in surface waters are often associated with municipal wastewater treatment plant outfalls.”  Septic systems do not treat pharmaceuticals.  There is no violation of any federal or state standards. Ref: Brown County Democrat – STREAM SAMPLING: Where’s the contamination coming from? By Sara Clifford – 1/28/20.
  • Need.  The PERs include a section on “Need” as opposed to “want.”
    • The Western Corridor (Helmsburg to Lake Lemon) has valid needs that include: an aging sewer plant, over 200 failing systems in the Lake Lemon area in flooding conditions, and customer support (over 140 letters) included in the PER. Helmburg customers also need more customers to help reduce and/or stabilize costs. They are currently paying $92.50 a month for service.
    • The Eastern Corridor (Helmbsurg to Bean Blossom to Woodland Lake) has based a need on an estimate as to failing septic systems due to a lack of records and the projected age of a system.
      • Estimates and assumptions. Of the 3,000 septic systems in the Bean Blossom Watershed, it was estimated that 76% (2,200 systems) of these need repairs or replacements. This is based on the assumptions derived from an observation that 41% have no record on file and an estimate that 35% are near or past design life.  No reference was provided to support the study (s) regarding design life.
      • Record Keeping. There was no explanation regarding record keeping, e.g., When were records required? What information was expected to be recorded?  In the absence of records, it can also be assumed that septic systems were installed using the current technology at the time and were repaired/replaced when needed.

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