Lancaster to reinforce sump pump ordinance

By Anna Jauhola
Lancaster residents will soon receive a letter from the city office to make sure sump pumps are not discharging into the city sewer system. The Lancaster City Council approved this action during the regular meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 11.
Public Works Superintendent George Zondagh said the lagoons took on too much water during the wet fall. Typically, Zondagh will discharge the lagoon once in the spring and once in the fall. But this year, he had to ask for an emergency discharge from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency because the lagoon was so full.
“It’s better for the city to notify everyone about what they cannot do. The MPCA wants to know that the town is working to fix the issue,” said Carol Johnson, city clerk.
In a regular year, Zondagh said the town discharges between 8,000 and 10,000 gallons of water into the lagoons. With the wet fall, there were times the lagoons took on 22,000 gallons a day.
“The ponds are not that big,” he said. “This is really serious. I’m going to go to each and every house and see if they are connected to the sewer. We can’t go like this.”
The city’s ordinance states, “No person shall discharge or cause to be discharged any stormwater, surface water, groundwater, roof run-off, subsurface drainage, cooling water or unpolluted industrial wastewaters into any sanitary sewer.”
Zondagh and the council agreed all homes with sump pumps must have them piped outside the building and discharge onto the owner’s property.
In other business, the council:
• Approved the council’s annual per diems and mileage. Each councilperson received $100 per meeting and the mayor receives $150 per meeting, which includes the meetings held about the port of entry and other special meetings. The city pays the IRS mileage rate, which is 58 cents per mile.
• Approved applying for a USDA grant to pay for a new siren. If the grant is approved, USDA pays for 75 percent of the project, which leaves the city with a $3,000 bill.
The council agreed the fire department should pay half, and the city will then also pay for new wiring and light switch in the fire hall.
• Approved paying off the 2013 USDA fire truck loan in full for $26,884.69. Johnson said the fire department’s fund balance is at $98,000. When the city received the USDA loan for the truck, they were required to put away a $7,000 CD for the final payment on the truck. As the city will pay it off in full, the city will keep the CD in the bank to gain interest for the fire department.
• Approved a reassessment of a property John Backstrom bought that still has two assessments against it from previous owners. Both assessments are for rural water of $321.36 and $106.78 over a term of 29 years, which amounts to between $13 and $15 a year.
• Approved sending letters to all city employees to inform them of upcoming required safety training and the ability to complete it using a laptop available through the city.
• Approved the renewal of Bernstrom Oil Company’s liquor license.
• Approved the fire chief’s annual salary at $1,500.
• Approved Johnson to purchase a laptop computer for no more than $400 for required safety training for city employees.
• Approved a letter to be sent to all city residents to clean up properties in prior to Heritage Days and the 100-year Lancaster School celebration.
• Amended the 2019 budget because the auditor asked that the council make an amendment regarding the income from the rehabilitation grant received and the corresponding expense for the payment out.

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