Wastewater may not be a glamour topic that draws people to politics but it's an issue politicians ignore at their own peril.
Growth will be accompanied by wastewater. That's as sure as the rain in spring or the taxes we pay each April 15. Knowing this problem won't go away, it's heartening to learn that Crow Wing County is proposing a countywide sanitary district to protect water quality. The proposal calls for pilot districts where on-site wastewater treatment systems will be monitored for performance.
What's disturbing about the present wastewater situation is that no one has much of an insight into how well most on-site septic systems are working. The sale of property triggers inspections, but otherwise government doesn't have much of handle on the efficiency of individual on-site systems. This is definitely a case where what we don't know can hurt the county's water quality.
Baxter and Brainerd are currently wrestling with the problem of how to manage increased waste and which governmental unit should be in charge of an expanded wastewater treatment facility.
Government officials would be wise to take a big picture approach to this issue, knowing full well that rivers and lakes pay no attention to city or county lines. The Brainerd lakes area, as has been said before, is one big community and the best solution to many of its biggest challenges is very often a regional approach. It's not just the growth in Brainerd and Baxter that we have to worry about. It's also the expected growth in Crow Wing Township, Unorganized Territory and other nearby locations.
A broad viewpoint and an acknowledgment that this is an area where government has a legitimate interest will serve our communities well in the years to come.
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