AUSTIN — Ranking 58 among the state's 87 counties in subsurface sewage treatment system compliance, Mower County is offering homeowners a low-cost opportunity to upgrade their septic systems.

In an effort to protect groundwater and local lakes or streams, the county expects to see about 120 septic installations this construction season, said Angela Lipelt, supervisor of Mower County Environmental Services. If all those systems are installed, the 2021 construction season will begin without any carry-over projects.

"That has never happened in my time with the county," Lipelt said. "This will end up being a record year for subsurface sewage treatment system construction in Mower County."

In June, the Mower County Board voted to change its septic-loan policy to fund 90% of the costs for a qualifying septic system. Generally, this decreases a landowner’s out-of-pocket cost for the average cost of a mound system from $6,000 to $2,000.

This year, Mower County has approved 24 septic-loan applications, earmarking more than $425,000 in septic-loan funds to local landowners for replacing their failing septics. Loans to property owners generally range from $14,000 to $22,000. Overall, hundreds of septic systems through the years have been replaced with support from the county’s septic-loan program.

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Mower County Environmental Services helps with low-interest loans for septic-replacement projects and with other septic-related questions at (507) 437-77, or visit the website at

Winona survey will help set tone for arts, culture in the city

WINONA — The city of Winona is reaching out to develop an arts and culture strategic plan by conducting an online survey.

The survey will help ensure the strategic plan reflects Winona's true community vision. The plan intends to strengthen existing cultural and creative resources for residents, artists and businesses, and define a road map for the creative future of Winona focusing on a vibrant quality of life.

The planning team wants to hear from residents, business owners, parents, artists, workers, and high school and college students. The online survey can be taken at

MnDOT posts environmental assessment worksheet on U.S. 52 project

ZUMBROTA — The Minnesota Department of Transportation has posted an environmental assessment worksheet on its proposed improvement project for southbound U.S. Highway 52 between Cannon Falls and Zumbrota.

The EAW, which MnDOT invites the public to review and comment upon, outlines the project’s need, purpose and anticipated social, economic and environmental impacts. It also identifies mitigation measures to lessen the impacts of the project.

The MnDOT project will include regrading and repaving of southbound lanes from 2 miles south of Cannon Falls to 2 miles north of Zumbrota, repaving northbound Highway 52 from 1.1 miles north of Minnesota Highway 60 west to 1.3 miles north of Goodhue County Road 7. MnDOT also plans to construct an interchange at Highway 52 and Minnesota Highway 57/Goodhue County Road 8, replace the southbound bridge over the North Fork Zumbro River, replace the Highway 60 bridges over Highway 52, add snow drift mitigation and close some at-grade access points.

The map shows the extent of the proposed Minnesota Department of Transportation project to resurface the southbound lanes of U.S. Highway 52 from Cannon Falls to Zumbrota. (Courtesy/MnDOT)
The map shows the extent of the proposed Minnesota Department of Transportation project to resurface the southbound lanes of U.S. Highway 52 from Cannon Falls to Zumbrota. (Courtesy/MnDOT)(Courtesy/MnDOT)

Construction on the estimated $50 million-$60 million project is expected to begin in fall 2021.

The EAW is available electronically at Paper copies are available by contacting MnDOT Project Manager Jai Kalsy at (507) 286-7545 or