For the past two years CRWP’s Small Community Wastewater program has been assisting the City of Myrtle, located southeast of Albert Lea in Freeborn County, in exploring options to fix the city’s sewer system. Currently, the community of 30 properties is hooked into a community collection system that dumps raw sewage into a nearby creek. This type of system is known as a community straight pipe. Myrtle is one of the last communities in southeast Minnesota with this type of system. It is similar to what Hope, Meriden, and Bixby had before CRWP helped them install new sewer systems.
When CRWP began working with Myrtle, the City Council had been investigating options for over a decade. They were at a loss for where to go next. Each option they had considered was either too expensive or not feasible due to environmental conditions. CRWP and Freeborn County staff went back reviewed everything the City Council had studied over the years and looked for possibilities that had been missed or new ways of implementing previous ideas. What emerged was a unique approach to siting individual septic systems. City-owned land bordering the city park, tax forfeited land, and vacant land purchased could all be used to provide sites for the homes in town that didn’t have room on their property for a septic system.
Based on this concept, CRWP and Freeborn County staff held a community meeting to gather feedback from residents on the overall plan and to discuss specifically where a septic system could be constructed to serve each home. The residents were excited about the plan and wanted to move forward. The plan was submitted as a grant application for $494,500 to the Clean Water Fund in the fall of 2014. The project scored fourth out of over 100 proposals submitted and was awarded funding in March.
Now that the grant has been awarded, detailed project planning has begun in earnest. There will be numerous meetings with residents over the next couple months to finalize plans for each property. There are many legal and design details to work out before construction can begin. The first of the new septic systems should be constructed this fall. It will take approximately three years for new septic systems to be constructed for all the homes in Myrtle.