Apr 26, 2023 | By: Mary Balstad

Ruttger’s Birchmont Lodge Near Bemidji Pays $13,000 Fine for Sewage Violation

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has fined Ruttger’s Birchmont Lodge north of Bemidji $13,000 for violating municipal wastewater treatment regulations.

According to a news release, Ruttger’s failed to notify the MPCA and a duty officer about discharged sewage on the ground during the summer and fall of 2022. Inspections by the MPCA confirmed inadequate and unsecured covers on the sewage holding tanks. Sewage also surfaced to the ground from the system’s drain field. The MPCA states these violations caused “potential public safety and health threats around the tanks and drain fields.”

Along with paying $13,000 in civil penalties, Ruttger’s fulfilled a series of corrective actions. These actions include:

  • Stopping the discharge of sewage to the ground and capping the tank and drain field connection.
  • Submitting a release plan with actions that include identifying, recovering and treating released wastewater. The plan would also ensure public safety and reporting any future releases of wastewater to the MPCA duty officer.
  • Submitting a signed document that confirms resort staff have been trained in the release response plan.

The MPCA notified Ruttger’s they were no longer in compliance with water and sewage guidelines in 2021. These deficiencies with their system has caused Ruttger’s to approach the city of Bemidji and Northern Township, as the lodge is located within the township, about connecting to the city’s water line. There has been no formal action from either body due to city policy requiring annexation if there is a connection, but Northern Township currently opposes annexation.

The MPCA considers different factors when calculating penalties. These factors include how serious the violations affected or could have affected the environment, and whether the penalized are first-time or repeat offenders. If the company gained any economic benefit by failing to comply with guidelines, the MPCA also attempts to recovers these benefits.

Lakeland News is member supported content, please consider supporting Lakeland PBS today.

Support the Businesses That Support Lakeland PBS

Related News