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Deer Lake Association
A member of the Minnesota Lakes Association

2019 DLA Septic System Incentive Offer

Septic systems have a shelf-life.  Septic systems have an expire-by date.  They are designed to perform effectively for 20 – 30 years.  In practice, sometimes they last less 20 years, sometimes more than 30, depending on how a property owner has used and maintained the system.    


The soil underneath a septic system drain-field acts like a filter, filtering your effluent before it runs into the water table and Deer Lake.  Over a long period of time, 15, 20, 30 or more years, that "filter" can become saturated and ineffective.  When the soil filter becomes ineffective, pathogens, phosphorus, and other nutrients can run mostly unfiltered into the water table the lake, driving algae and undesirable weed growth and reduced water clarity. 


Deer Lake is sensitive to phosphorus loading, meaning that additional phosphorus causes a disproportionate decrease in water quality.  The good news is that this sensitivity also means that if we reduce the amount of phosphorus running into the lake, water quality will increase disproportionately.   


The only way to determine how well your soil is filtering effluent -- whether your septic system has reached its expire-by date -- is for a certified septic compliance inspector to perform hand-drawn soil borings near your tank and drain-field.   


DLA recommends that lakeshore property owners take two specific actions regarding septics:


  • Order your septic tank pumped every 3 years or so, depending on how much it’s used.  Examples of local firms that pump septic tanks include Scooter’s Septic Service and Bunes Septic Service.


  • Once your septic system is 15 or more years old, undergo a compliance inspection every 5 - 10 years to determine if the soil underneath your drain-field is still properly filtering effluent before it runs into the water table and the lake, causing deteriorating water quality. 


A certified licensed inspector has agreed to perform septic compliance inspections for Deer Lake property owners.  References are available.  DLA is offering to pay the inspection fee for qualifying property owners.  Qualifying property owners are ones whose septic system is 15 or more years old, who have not had a septic compliance inspection performed during the past ten years, whose property is not currently for sale, and who have owned their Deer Lake property for two or more years. 


Your septic compliance inspection will be exactly the same inspection that Itasca County requires to be performed before a property sale can close or when a property owner pulls a building permit.  The inspector will check your septic tank for leaks, check to see if the system is operating properly, and then perform hand-drawn soil borings both near your tanks and near your drain-field (there's no machinery to mar your property).  The borings near the tanks will determine whether your tanks are leaking.  The borings near the drain-field will determine whether the soil underneath your septic drain-field continues to filter effluent properly.


If you are interested in participating, please send a note to to receive additional information.