Residents will hear proposals to extend sewer system to lakes
WILLMAR -- A proposal to replace individual septic systems around Diamond Lake with a common collection and treatment system will be discussed with lakeshore owners Saturday morning in Atwater.
A similar informational meeting will be held in August with property owners who live on Nest, George and Henderson lakes near Spicer to discuss a sewer proposal for residents there.
The meetings follow final approval by the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners this spring to link residents on Lake Florida, located west of Spicer, into the Green Lake Sanitary Sewer and Water District system.
Construction of the sewer collection system around Lake Florida and installation of the main lines to the district's system is under way and will be completed next year. In the case of Lake Florida, the residents pursued the project and asked the county to do it.
Now the county is offering access to the Green Lake Sanitary Sewer and Water District treatment plant, which currently serves New London and Spicer, to other nearby residential lakes.
Hooking into the system is one way for residents to solve individual sewage problems as well as preserve water quality of their lakes, said Kandiyohi County Public Works Director Gary Danielson.
It can be a better option than storage tanks and mound systems that can take up precious space in small, low-lying lake lots.
It's estimated that 75 percent of the current septic systems around the area lakes were built before 1996. "There's a 100 percent chance that they wouldn't comply with today's standards," said Danielson.
That doesn't mean the systems are necessarily "failing" which Danielson said includes sewage coming to the surface or backing up into homes. But, he said, septic systems "could pollute groundwater for the next 50 years and not fail."
Information about the cost of the projects and how the system will look and work will be presented at the meetings and should help residents make an educated decision on whether the sewer system is a good investment for themselves and their lakes, he said.
"We're making an opportunity available and seeing how people react to it," said Danielson.
A positive response could trigger advancement of the proposals and construction that could begin in 2007.
If there's a strong negative reaction, the projects likely won't fly.
"We're not going to shove it down anybody's throats," said Commissioner Dennis Peterson. "We're not in that business."
Peterson, who lives on Henderson Lake and attended their recent lake association meeting, said a preliminary straw vote there showed unanimous support for getting more information about the system. "They were definitely interested," Peterson said.
His conversation with residents on neighboring George Lake also indicates a strong interest in the proposal.
Danielson said there is "pretty solid interest" in the Diamond Lake proposal.
Judy Christensen, president of the Diamond Lake Area Recreational Association, said everyone is "looking forward" to Saturday's 9 a.m. meeting at the Atwater Community Center to get details of the proposal.
"It's been a long time coming," said Christensen. The proposal was discussed last year at the association's annual meeting and now people are ready to "make a decision so we can get on with life here."
Following the meeting, the association will send information and a paper ballot in the mail to get members' opinions on the project. Those opinions will determine the lake association's official stance and what response they will give to the County Board. The results of the opinion poll will be announced at the association's annual meeting in mid-August.
Although it's not an official County Board meeting, it's expected that all of the county commissioners will attend the Saturday meeting in Atwater to hear residents' questions and concerns firsthand, said County Administrator Wayne Thompson.
While the environment plays a major role in the decision-making process, so does money.
Depending on which route is chosen, it would cost anywhere from $5.1 to $5.6 million to bring the service to the 350 residential lots on Diamond Lake.
For the 420 lots on the other three lakes it would cost about $7.2 million to install the individual low-pressure lines. Those residents would also pay for a share of the main lines that are being installed through the area as part of the Lake Florida project.
Obtaining low-interest state loans with a 1 to 2 percent interest rate can help make the project more affordable and appealing, said Danielson.
Because the Green Lake Sanitary Sewer and Water District treatment facility is not now operating at full capacity, Danielson said it can handle the extra flow from the lakes. The additional customers would help the facility generate additional revenue.