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New stormwater ordinance requires home sellers to comply before closing
NOV. 7, 2011

By Kristen Miller
News Editor

COKATO, MN – For Cokato residents looking to sell their home in the future, there will be a new rule to comply with before doing so.

As a result of the sanitary sewer ponds overflowing last spring, the City of Cokato has chosen to remedy the problem with an ordinance that will keep it in compliance with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency requirements.

The ordinance establishes a “point of sale” requirement to homeowners selling property, prohibiting stormwater discharge into the city’s sanitary sewer system. The ordinance takes effect Saturday, Dec. 31.

This will require an inspection of a property to verify stormwater, including sump pumps, foundation drainage systems, and roof drains, are not being discharged into the sanitary sewer. It will require video of the lines.

As an alternative, a property owner may provide a certificate of compliance from a licensed plumber. If noncompliant, the owners must remedy the problem before the sale can be closed. For sales in the wintertime, when work is not permitted, the money will be put into escrow at the time of sale.

This is a remedy to avoid the ponds from overflowing in the future and prevent the city from having to add on to the sanitary sewer ponds, which would be very costly, according to Cokato City Administrator Don Levens.

Eliminating stormwater discharge to sanitary sewer, reduces the amount of water that is unnecessarily being treated at the solid waste ponds, explained Levens.

Vickie Stonelake, a closing officer for Title Mark, said the biggest challenge will be to make everyone aware of this ordinance, especially those who sell properties in town who are not local. Oftentimes, foreclosed properties must close in the metro area and those companies may not be aware of the ordinance, she explained.

Realtors must also be aware, and remind their clients who are selling.

At the minimum, it will cost the seller $300, on average, to have the sewer lines inspected, Stonelake estimated. Repairing or replacing the line if needed, however, will be where the real cost comes in.

This ordinance isn’t something that is exclusive to Cokato. Dassel has had a sanitary sewer ordinance in place for 10 years for homes older than seven years.

The city is also doing its part by replacing old infrastructure around town, including man- holes, to help eliminate its inflow and infiltration issues, according to Levens.

The ordinance is not requiring a citywide inspection at this time, only at the “point of sale,” Levens noted.

Homeowners with questions regarding this ordinance, or desiring vendor recommendations, should call city hall at (320) 286-5505.

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