SSTS REPORT October 2007 - Minnesota Pollution Control

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SSTS ReportOctober 2007Changes, Changes, Changes!SSTS Code Change StatusA note from the EditorThe SSTS REPORT is an occasional publication of theMPCA. We have used this newsletter to inform theindustry of regulatory events, program changes,staffing changes, whatever seemed it should beshared. Now, as the rule is finally moving forward,we want to make this newsletter a more formal andfocused communication tool.By Gretchen Sabel, MPCABig news! The Administrative Law Judge has ruledon the proposed rule changes, and the rule makingwill finally be wrapping up. Thanks to all whocommented at the hearings or in writing; with yourinput we were able to make a much better rule thanwe started with.The SSTS REPORT is mailed to every licensedbusiness and local SSTS program office inMinnesota. Tank manufacturers are being added tothe mailing list with this issue. The REPORT is alsodistributed at various events and posted on theMPCA webpage. Your comments on this revampedSSTS REPORT are most welcome. Please send yourthoughts to Gretchen Sabel at 651-296- 7773 .The MPCA received a great deal of comment on therules language that was open for public comment inFebruary. The Office of Administrative Hearingsposted all the comments on their Web site for publicviewing tml . MPCA staff’s formal response to comments isposted on the MPCA’s Web site esmajor.html .Important Features in this Issue:MPCA staff subsequently made a number ofchanges to the rules as proposed. These changeswere in response to comments by the public, theALJ or the MPCA’s internal review. Some of themajor changes were:SSTS Code Change Status . . Page 1Welcome, Septic Tank Manufacturers*. . Page 3Grants to Counties for SSTS Work . Page 4MPCA Enforcement Corner* . . Page 4Tank Fee Collection and Enforcement . Page 4Much Ado about Licensing Page 5 Engineers, Geoscientist and SSTS Licensees Septage or Biosolids, What’s the Difference? Recent Plumbing Legislation ChangesCracking Down on Straight Pipes . .Page 8Small Community Wastewater Needs Page 8ATTENTION LICENSED BUSINESSES! . .Page 9Notes from the Licensing Desk* . .Page 9U of M Professional Training Schedule Page 10MPCA Staff Directory . Page 11* New regular features in the SSTS REPORT1. Changes relating to the effect of the rule on localunits of government, specifically: Clarification of the requirement for soilverification. Clarification that the review of city and townshipordinances is MPCA responsibility, not thecounty’s. Changing the threshold size for MSTS from fourhomes or 2500 gallons per day of flow to 5000gallons per day. This change greatly reduced thenumber of systems to which the more rigorousstandards apply and the correspondingworkload for local programs.(continued, next page)

2. Changes relating to technical requirements,specifically: Modification of the limits on the depth of burialfor tanks (Shallow tanks are required unlessotherwise allowed by the local governmentalunit (LGU). Requiring that maintenance holes must extendto surface (for new construction). Requiring that maintenance hole covers must beheavy ( 95 lbs) or locked to prevent accidents. Changing the requirement for watertight testingof tanks from one tank per 25 manufactured toone tank per model per year. Removal of references to either “rock” or tospecific proprietary products so that the ruledoes not appear to favor any type of system.3. Changes addressing discretionary terms. TheMPCA made numerous changes to resolve concernsregarding the use of permissive language, such as“may” or “should.”The judge reviewed all this and found that the MPCAgave proper notice, fulfilled all proceduralrequirements, has the necessary statutory authorityto adopt the proposed rules, and that the rules areneeded and reasonable, with one exception. Thisexception was a defect in the proposed definition of“bedroom” (see sidebar). The proposed definitionleft the determination up to local units ofgovernment; the judge wanted to see this changedto give more specificity. The MPCA is working withthe Advisory Committee and the judge to come to amutually-acceptable definition that will go into thefinal rule.What’s next? The MPCA is governed by a citizen’sBoard. The agency Board will be asked to formallyadopt the rule at their October 23 meeting. (If youare interested in reviewing documents that willsupport the Board’s decision, go to the MPCAwebsite .html . ) Assuming this happens, from there the rulewill go to the Governor, then back to theAdministrative Law Judge for final review, then backto the Governor, then will be published in the StateRegister sometime in early February. The rule goesinto effect one week after the final language ispublished in the State Register.The end of the rule process is just the beginning ofthe work. Various provisions of the rule havedifferent schedules for implementation. Thetechnical provisions of the rule do not becomemandatory until they are adopted into localordinances. Counties will have two years after theeffective date to update their ordinances (no laterthan February 2010), and cities and towns have oneyear beyond the county ordinance to update theirs(no later than February 2011). The new licensecategories are not mandatory until three years afterthe effective date of the rule (February 2011).Product registration will begin when the rules areeffective but is not required until two years after theeffective date (February 2010).Thanks again for all your help!Revised definition of “Bedroom”:The determination of what constitutes abedroom may seem to be an easy process,however in some cases; it has proved to be adifficult task. The agency has drafted adefinition of a bedroom in MN R. chapter7080.1100 subpart 9 as follows:Subp. 9. Bedroom. For the sole purpose ofestimating design flows from dwellings,"bedroom" means an area that meets item A orB.A. A room designed or used for sleeping.B. A room or area of a dwelling that has aminimum floor area of 70 square feet with accessgained from the living area or living area hallway.Architectural features that affect the use as abedroom under this part may be considered inmaking the bedroom determination.SSTS REPORT: October 20072

Welcome, Septic Tank Manufacturers!By Joellen Rumley, MPCASpecial thanks go out to all of you who providedcomments on the rule. Your comments resulted inmany changes to the final rule which will make itmore practical and effective.The SSTS REPORT will now feature a column for tankmanufacturers in each issue. This column willhighlight specific information, events and otheritems of interest to sewage tank manufacturers whomarket tanks in Minnesota. We are planning to setup meetings, too, where MPCA staff and tankmanufacturers can get together and talk about thecoming changes.There is a three year implementation period formeeting the sewage tank testing and certificationrequirements. MPCA will develop a list of certifiedtank models that have met the rule requirements.This list will be web-accessible. MPCA will also bedeveloping guidance on how to assess the structuralintegrity. This will be either through submittingcalculations or performing a vacuum test. Thisstrength assessment will need to be performed onetime per model. Watertight testing will also need tobe performed, but this will need to be an annual test- one time per year per model, for tanks coveredunder 7080. All tanks used for MSTS must be testedfor watertightness. Tank access and accessprevention (properly secured, etc.) will be changing,too, also with a three-year implementation period.Here is the final rule language relating to sewagetank assessment. The strikeouts and underlinesshow changes from the originally proposed rulelanguage.7080.2010 TANK TESTING ASSESSMENT.Subpart 1. General.A. All sewage tanks must be watertight, including atall tank and riser joints, riser connections, and pipeconnections.B. Testing An assessment of all models of sewagetanks to be used must be conducted to determine:(1) the structural integrity of the tank design; and (2)the adequacy of the manufacturing process ofwatertightness.C. Sewage tanks, including riser joints, riserconnections, and pipe connections must be designed,manufactured, and installed to be watertight for 25years under normal use.Subp. 2. Structural integrity of design test. Thestructural integrity of each model of tank producedmanufactured and all poured-in-place tanks must beverified by calculation,proof testing, or a licensed professional engineer todetermine the horizontal and vertical loads that thetank can withstand when empty. Tanks must bereverified for structural integrity if the design,materials, or construction methods are modified. Alicensed professional engineer shall certify in writing ifdifferent manufactured models are similar enough sothat the structural integrity information for onemodel is valid for other models. Verifications must besubmitted to the commissioner. The commissionershall maintain and make available the verificationsupon request. All poured-in-place tanks must beverified.Subp. 3. Watertightness test.A. Of all sewage tanks manufactured, every 25th tankproduced must be tested for watertightness. At leastone tank per year, per model must be tested forwatertightness. All poured-in-place tanks shall betested for watertightness. Records of testing must bemaintained by the manufacturer for three years andmust be available to the commissioner and local unitof government if requested. Tanks must be testedand meet or exceed the applicable requirements ofsubitems (1) to, (2), or (3):(1) when empty, a tank must maintain a vacuum of atleast two inches of mercury for five minutes, withoutloss of pressure;(2) concrete tanks must hold water for one hour,without loss, after the tank has been filled with waterto the top of the tank, let stand for 24 hours, and thenrefilled to the same level; and or(3) fiberglass-reinforced polyester or polyethylenesewage tanks must hold water without loss for one24-hour period after being filled.B. Sewage tanks that do not pass the tests listed initem A, subitems (1) to (3), must not be used untilrepaired and retested. The repair and retestprocedure must be repeated until the tank passes thetest or the tank must not be used.SSTS REPORT: October 2007(continued, next page)3

We want sewage tank manufacturers to know thatwe are interested in working with them to ensure asmooth transition over the next three years. Pleasefeel free to contact me to begin this process:Joellen Rumley, phone (651) 282-5291 .MPCA Enforcement CornerBy Pat Shelito, MPCADuring the period Jan - June 2007, MPCAenforcement staff finalized ISTS enforcementactions on 6 companies or individuals, referred to asResponsible Parties in the enforcement world.These enforcement cases totaled 10 % of all MPCAenforcement actions reported during this period. Alisting of MPCA enforcement actions is found at theMPCA cement.html .The penalty monies are deposited in the stategovernment general fund. Administrative PenaltyOrders (APOs) were issued to each ResponsibleParty. The MPCA issues APOs, one of severalcompliance tools, to resolve compliance problemsand ISTS licensure issues. The severity of theenforcement action depends on several factors,including the number of violations, environmentalimpact of the violation, whether it is a repeatoffense, and how quickly the problem is corrected.Leaking tank: photo by Barb McCarthyGrants to Counties for SSTS Inventoryand UpgradeBy Gretchen Sabel, MPCAThe Minnesota 2007 Legislature provided significantfunding for grants under the Clean Water LegacyAct. This includes nearly one million dollars forcounty SSTS Inventory projects and another milliondollars for grants to fuel septic system upgrades.MPCA contacts for these grants are Gretchen Sabel( or 651-296-7773) andBen Wiener ( or (651) 2971227). The grant application period is open now –read more about it at: the 6 Responsible Parties, fines totaled 12,308.56 and ranged from 950 to 4,208.56 perResponsible Party. The Responsible Parties wereSteve’s Septic Pumping Services, Inc., (St. LouisCounty) Deborah Novotny dba Thaemert Septic(Scott County); Victor Yerbich dba Vic’s SepticService & Excavating (Beltrami County); HalvorsonExcavating, Inc.(Stearns County); SchoeningExcavating (Wright County) and KoeckeritzExcavating, Inc. (Washington County).Jan - June 2007, enforcement activities and technicalassistance provided by the MPCA to local units ofgovernment and practitioners are tabulated asfollows:Complaints investigated60Technical assistance calls, emails772Enforcement actions and follow-up210** This number is unusually high this half of the yearbecause of enforcement on professionals who did notturn in their tank fees.SSTS REPORT: October 20074

Tank Fee Collection and EnforcementBy Clarence Manke, MPCAFunding for the MPCA’s SSTS program comes fromseveral sources, including licensing fees, sewagetank fees, and appropriations from the state’sgeneral fund. The sewage tank fee is a fee of 25per sewage tank installed, sent to the MPCA by theinstaller of the tank. Tank fees are due to MPCA byJanuary 31 for the previous years.MPCA asks local governments to report the numberof tanks that each installer has installed in thatcalendar year. We compare this information to thereports that each installer files with their fees.When there’s a shortfall, we investigate.Letters were recently sent to those who did not payany tank fee or fell short on their tank feesubmittals. Failure to pay the tank fee results inenforcement action and a collection agency will becalled in to collect the fees.We thank both the installers and the localgovernments who keep up with this and make thesystem work. If you have questions about the tankfee, please contact Clarence Manke or 651-296-4941.Much Ado about LicensingLicensing of SSTS practitioners by MPCA has been areality since April of 1996 – twelve constructionseasons ago. A good number of those reading thishave been part of the program since before thattime. It has been a long journey with manyinteresting twists.One of these twists has become more of an issue inthe past year – this is the respective duties ofengineers, geoscientists and SSTS practitioners.Another twist is that some septage removed fromseptic tanks is actually regulated as biosolids, andadditional licensure is needed here as well. Anothernew wrinkle is the recent broadening of therequirement for plumbing licensure. The next threearticles provide updates on all these topics. Otherarticles in this issue of the SSTS REPORT covercoming changes to the licensing program.Engineers, Geoscientists and SSTSPractitionersBy Gretchen Sabel, MPCASince the beginning of SSTS licensure, MPCA hasrequired everyone who works in the field to eitherbe registered (and licensed, if a private business) orto work under someone who is registered (like anemployee in a business who works under thesupervision of a DRP). This was true for those whocame into the industry through working in the familybusiness, through taking the initiative to enter thebusiness by beginning in the U’s onsite classes, orthrough their work as professional engineers or soilscientists. Regardless of the background you camewith, the U’s pre-licensure classes and MPCAregistration/licensure have been the way to enterthe field of SSTS work. This has not changed.What has changed, however, has been the nature ofSSTS work. While most of the systems that aredesigned and installed today are still single familysystems, many of these are now more complex withpretreatment devices or other elements that makesthem something other than standard. And there area growing number of larger systems which requiremore knowledge and understanding to get themright. Some of these larger systems serve wholecommunities and have received public funding,another big change from earlier practice. All thesechanges together have raised the awareness of SSTSwork’s overlap with the practice of engineering andgeoscience as defined by the Board of Architecture,Engineering, Land Surveying, LandscapeArchitecture, Geoscience and Interior Design.SSTS practitioners are licensed by the MPCA underauthority granted in Minnesota Statutes 115.56;Professional Engineers and Geoscientists arelicensed by the Board of Architecture, Engineering,Land Surveying, Landscape Architecture, Geoscienceand Interior Design (AELSLAGID Board ) underauthority granted in Minnesota Statutes 326. Thesetwo statutes were created independently atdifferent times and their relationship was not clear.The Minnesota Onsite Wastewater Associationrequested that MPCA work with the AELSLAGIDBoard to clarify this issue. A series of meetings wereheld a year ago that only served to underscore theperceived conflict and did not resolve anything.(continued, next page)SSTS REPORT: October 20075

MOWA then sought legislation to address the issue.This resulted in a bill that passed in May, 2007.The 2007 legislature passed a bill (2007 SessionLaws, chapter 131) that addressed this issue in twoways. First is a temporary exemption that wasadded to the SSTS licensing statute, MS 115.56:Sec. 73. (i) Until December 31, 2010, no otherprofessional license is required to:(1) design, install, maintain, or inspect an individualsewage treatment system with a flow of 10,000gallons of water per day or less if the system designer,installer, maintainer, or inspector is licensed underthis subdivision and the local unit of government hasnot adopted additional requirements; and(2) operate an individual sewage treatment systemwith a flow of 10,000 gallons of water per day or less ifthe system operator is licensed as a system designer,installer, maintainer, or inspector under thissubdivision and the local unit of government has notadopted additional requirements.The other provision requires MPCA to work withstakeholders to develop a report on the issue:Sec. 95. The commissioner of the Pollution ControlAgency must report to the legislative committees withjurisdiction on environmental policy by February 15,2008, after consulting with officials from theMinnesota Onsite Wastewater Association; theMinnesota Society of Professional Engineers; theAmerican Council of Engineering Companies; theMinnesota Association of Professional Soil Scientists;the Minnesota Board of Architecture, Engineering,Land Surveying, Landscape Architecture, Geoscience,and Interior Design; the Geoscience ProfessionalOrganization; the University of Minnesota WaterResources Center; the Association of MinnesotaCounties; the League of Minnesota Cities; the Coalitionof Greater Minnesota Cities; the MinnesotaAssociation of Small Cities; and the MinnesotaAssociation of Townships, on further issues relating tothe licensing of individual sewage treatment systems.Work with the stakeholder group on this report hasnow begun. To track progress on this issue, refer tothe MPCA website at: .Septage or Biosolids, What’s theDifference?By Jorja Dufresne, MPCAThe difference is not in the characteristics of what’spumped out. The difference is in who owns thesystem. This difference is laid out in the stateBiosolids rule, Minn. R. Ch. 7041. To lay it out moreclearly:Q. When does a permitted facility generatingseptage come under the state Biosolids Rules?A. When the permittee generating septage is amunicipality, sanitary district, or local unit ofgovernment or it is a facility for centralizedtreatment or storage of septage. Privatelyowned permitted facilities do not come underthe rule unless they have some mechanical typetreatment component – such as undergroundaeration tanks that produce waste activatedsludge.Q. What are licensing requirements for permittedfacilities that generate “septage” that is“biosolids”?A. A Type IV certification in the OperatorCertification program is required and allrequirements of Minn. R. Ch. 7041 apply.This table summarizes the regulatory requirements:Type of FacilityFacilityApplicable RuleOwnershipPublic &7041MechanicalPrivateBiosolidsType WWTP[any withmechanicalcomponent]7041 SeptagePublic/Individual and(Biosolids)Municipal/Group SepticBoth SSTS andSanitaryTanks/Type rivate40 CFR 503Individual andSeptageGroup SepticSSTS LicensureTanks/requiredPermittedFacilityIf you have any other questions, please call JorjaDuFresne at 651-296-9292 or send an email REPORT: October 20076

Recent Plumbing Legislation ChangesBy Randy Ellingboe, PE, Manager, Plumbing PlanReview and Inspection Unit, Department of Labor andIndustryThe 2007 MinnesotaLegislature passedlegislation that hassignificant impact onthe plumbing industryin Minnesota. In part,this legislation has the following effects.- Beginning Dec. 1, 2007, all people – statewide –working at the business of plumbing must belicensed plumbers or registered apprentices, exceptthose who are certified with pipelaying training andhave a 25,000 plumbing code compliance bond mayinstall sewer or water service pipes outside abuilding, without a license.Unlicensed people with two or more yearsexperience have until Dec. 31, 2007, to obtain a“restricted” license if they qualify and apply asdescribed below.- Effective July 1, 2007, new restricted master andrestricted journeyman licenses were established forplumbing in cities with a population of 5,000 orfewer. People with restricted licenses may performplumbing everywhere in the state except in citieswith a population of more than 5,000.Application requirements for restricted master andrestricted journeyman licenses are as follows: two years of practical plumbing experience arerequired for restricted journeyman license, four years of practical plumbing experience arerequired for restricted master license, applicants who are plumbing contractors musthave been in compliance with plumbing codecompliance bond requirements for contractorexperience to count, an application form must be submitted by Dec.31, 2007, with a 30 application fee, evidence ofworkers’ compensation insurance (if applicanthas any employees) and proof of liabilityinsurance (if applicant will be a plumbingcontractor).Expiration: Restricted licenses will expire Dec. 31each year, beginning in 2008. Annual license renewalfees will be the same as for unrestricted master andjourneyman ( 120 and 55, respectively).- The following provisions are effective Dec. 1, 2007: voids any provision in a sales contract forplumbing equipment or supplies that wouldwaive any provision of the plumbing act, eitherby expressly waiving it or by stipulating thecontract is subject to the laws of another state; prohibits air admittance valves and water-freeurinals; and makes registering a bond and evidence ofliability insurance with the state the only optionfor complying with plumbing code compliancebond and insurance requirements (option topost bond and insurance certificate with localgovernment removed).- Also effective July 1, 2007: establishes Plumbing Board of 11 industry andlicensed individuals, one public member, thecommissioner (or designee) and one MinnesotaDepartment of Health representative –o commissioner retains authority forlicensing activities, enforcement of rulesand laws, and inspections,o board must be appointed and must meetby Sept. 1, 2007,o information about applying for theBoard can be found at the websitebelow; requires unlicensed individuals to be registeredwith the department as apprentices; and requires apprentices to be directly supervised bya master, journeyman, restricted master orrestricted journeyman plumber.For more information, please visit the MinnesotaDepartment of Labor and Industry Web site at REPORT: October 20077

Cracking Down on Straight PipesSmall Community Wastewater NeedsBy Heidi Lindgren, MPCAA straight pipe is a sewage disposal system thatincludes toilet waste and transports raw or partiallysettled sewage directly to a lake, a stream, adrainage system, or ground surface. Minnesota stillhas way too many of these problems. MPCA is nowbeginning to crack down to seek resolution.By Barb McCarthyHow many small communities in Minnesota havewastewater needs? And how can the MPCA helpthese communities? That’s the goal of an MPCAeffort - to work more proactively with smallcommunities and others to help resolve wastewaterissues.The Small Community Wastewater Needs surveyused information from county-level regulators toidentify areas where sewage treatment is likelydischarging to the surface via a straight pipe(s). Inthis survey, counties pointed out about 50 smallcommunities with straight pipes. MPCA is nowworking through our regional offices to prioritizeareas for action and engaging partners to helprectify the problem.To begin this effort, a survey was distributed tocounties; 92% of counties responded to the survey. ABIG thanks to those counties who responded! Thecounty survey results identified over 1,000 smallcommunities with some type of wastewater need. Asmall community was defined as a group of 5 homesor more on small lots. The listing of smallcommunities is considered a ‘living document’ and isexpected to change over time.Once areas are prioritized, a number of tools can bebrought to bear to move toward compliance. Onenewer tool is the authority granted in 2006 forMPCA to issue 500 penalties per month to ownersof straight pipes. 27 cases are now moving throughthe enforcement process now. It is likely that manyof the owners will fix their systems before theirpenalties are issued. Another tool is the grantprogram that BWSR has opened for localgovernments to access funds for system inventoryand/or fixes. For more information on the BWSRgrants, go to .About 90% of the communities are unincorporatedareas; 10% are incorporated (cities) areas. Lakecommunities and rural ‘cross road’ communitieswere identified most frequently as areas withwastewater needs. About 48 communities (5% of thetotal) are thought to be discharging sewage to thesurface - via tile lines or ‘straight’ pipes. The majorityof the ‘straight’ pipe communities are located in thesouthern part of the state.Small Communities with Wastewater NeedsN 1,005Incorporatedcommunities(N 102)Unincorporatedcommunities(N 903)Straight pipe discharging in Chisago County, 2006. (This onewas upgraded as part of the 3-County Pilot Program funded bygrants from the MPCA in 2003.)Using the survey results, a goal was developed - toeliminate sewage discharges from small communitystraight pipes – a goal in sync with MPCA’s 2006Strategic Plan. A strategy to resolve these issueswas drafted and is part of the draft Report. Inputfrom key stakeholders is still needed to refine andimplement the strategy. And coordination amongSSTS REPORT: October 20078

multiple organizations is essential for this effort tobe successful.Regional teams are being established at the MPCAto begin this effort. Each regional team willprioritize communities and determine the best wayto work with them. For example, the MPCA maychoose to work directly with a Mayor and CityCouncil for a city that has a community straight pipedischarge. Some type of enforcement action maybe needed. Typically, a City will be required to meeta 3 year schedule of compliance. In unincorporatedlake communities, coordination with the county andUniversity of Minnesota small communityassistance staff may be the best starting point.Look for the draft ‘Small Community WastewaterNeeds’ report on the agency’s website soon MPCA will notify countieswhen the draft Report is available for input before itis finalized.ATTENTION LICENSED BUSINESSES!It is very important that Licensed ISTS businesses donot allow other unlicensed professionals to use theirlicense numbers on a casual basis. An ISTS businesslicense only covers those professional employed bythe licensed business. If you allow anotherprofessional to use your license number you areputting your bond and insurance at risk, since it ispossible that a home owner may try to make a claimagainst the business whose license number is notedon any paperwork such as designs, inspections or asbuilts.If another professional requests to use your licensenumber and he is not an employee and you are notwilling to write up a sub-contractual agreement withhim, just say NO. If someone is asking to use yourlicense number there is probably a reason why he orshe does not have a license of their own.Notes from the Licensing DeskBy Jane SeaverI am pleased to join theSSTS (Subsurface SewageTreatment System)Community in the role ofRegistration & LicensingCoordinator. I haveworked in this position atthe Minnesota PollutionControl Agency (MPCA) for almost a year now and itwasn’t long before I discovered the need for bettercommunication from my area. I hope to reach outto all of you at U of M workshops, conferences andthrough this newsletter!For my opening edition, I would like to answer mynumber one most frequently asked question:Why do I have to manage two expiration dates?There are two types of SSTS authorizations:(1) a professional registration that each individualmust have and(2) a license each business must have.An individual who is self-employed must be bothregistered and licensed. The individual registrationexpires three years from the date it is issued. Thebusiness license expires one year from the date it isissued. A professional registration and a license areusually not issued at the same time because of th

MPCA Enforcement Corner By Pat Shelito, MPCA During the period Jan - June 2007, MPCA enforcement staff finalized ISTS enforcement actions on 6 companies or individuals, referred to as Responsible Parties in the enforcement world. These enforcement cases totaled 10 % of all MPCA enforcement actions reported during this period. A

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