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Dresbach’s township board has voted to spend about $500,000 on plans for a wastewater treatment plant as it seeks to find a solution to a longstanding sewer problem.

The wastewater plant is needed because of a number of properties that have individual septic systems that don’t meet state regulations and are a considered a pollution hazard.

The plant would be used to build a public sewer system for those properties, which are among 67 located in special service district. Included in the disrict are properties located between I-90 and the Mississippi, and some close to Dresbach that are part of the special service district, said Dresbach township board chairman Pat Burns.

Burns joined township board supervised Tuan Bute in voting in favor of using $500,000 in funding already secured by the township to pay an engineering firm to draw up the facility plans. Township supervisor Dave McCann voted against the proposal, which passed by a 2-1 vote last week.

The proposed site for the wastewater plant is a piece of land currently owned by MnDOT along State Trunk Highway 12 that the state is willing to offer to the township. Burns said some residents who live close to the site are opposed to the plan.

“They don’t want a sewer plant in their backyard and they’re very vocal about it,” he said, adding that the plan is still at a preliminary stage.

McCann said he believes the majority of people living in the special service district are against the public sewer plan. He said the $500,000 in funding borrowed by the township to draw up plans for the sewer system will have to be repaid through by the 67 affected property owners.

Burns said a rough estimate for the entire cost of the project, including building the treatment plant and sewer system, is about $4.5 million. But he hopes most of that money can be secured through a state grant.

The township board had previously hoped to connect to La Crescent’s sewer system. But La Crescent’s city council will only allow that to happen if any properties connecting to its sewer system are annexed by the city. Burns said the township board was opposed to annexation.

The problem with septic systems in the special service district has made it more difficult to sell or transfer properties, according to several homeowners.

Properties with septic systems that are listed as an imminent threat to public health must inform buyers of the issue and the septic system must be replaced within 10 months of a sale. Non-compliant septic systems must be fixed within two years. The rules come from the Winona zoning department.

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