Campground is located near Detroit Lakes

According to a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) enforcement investigation, Young Life Castaway Club violated several wastewater regulations, including modifying wastewater treatment systems without approval and improperly discharging hot tub wastewater at its youth and family camp. The violations occurred between 2019 and 2022 at its camp on Pelican Lake, just south of Detroit Lakes.

The facility’s wastewater permit, issued by MPCA in 2018, required the camp to upgrade and replace its subsurface sewage treatment systems with review and approval by MPCA to ensure the camp meets environmental regulations. Prior to 2018, the site was permitted by Otter Tail County and did not comply with wastewater regulations under Minnesota rules.

MPCA staff inspections and records reviews confirmed that Young Life Castaway Club had constructed and modified some of the sewage treatment systems without approval. These violations carry serious risks of harm to the environment.

Other violations included:

• Late, missing, and inaccurate sampling data and reporting.

• Modifying wastewater treatment systems or their sources without approval.

• Improper discharge of chlorinated hot tub wastewater.

In addition to paying the $152,815 civil penalty, the company agreed to complete a series of corrective actions including:

• Verifying that sewage treatment systems are constructed in compliance with Minnesota rules and statutes.

• Submitting or amending any missing discharge monitoring data.

• The agency finds that the most common wastewater violations stem from permittees not fully understanding permit requirements and relying exclusively on wastewater operators to maintain compliance. The MPCA advises permittees to pay close attention to permit requirements, communicate regularly with their operators, and call the MPCA for information on training tools and courses available.

MPCA rules and regulations are designed to protect human health and the environment by limiting pollution emissions and discharges from facilities. When companies do not fully comply with regulatory requirements, the resulting pollution can be harmful to people and the environment.

When calculating penalties, the MPCA considers how seriously the violations affected or could have affected the environment, and whether they were first-time or repeat violations. The agency also attempts to recover the economic benefit the company gained by failing to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.