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Sewer project around Lake Florida moves to next stage

WILLMAR -- Majority support by property owners for installing a sanitary sewer system around Lake Florida will likely mean the project will be built next spring.

Following a public hearing Saturday morning in Willmar to take testimony on the proposal, the Kandiyohi County Commissioners approved a resolution to move the project onto the next stage. The board approval authorizes engineers to prepare detailed plans for the project. Another board vote will be needed before bids are authorized for the project, said Chairman Richard Falk. More action will be needed before the bids are awarded.

The resolution also called for expanding the Green Lake Sanitary Sewer and Water District to include Lake Florida.

If that all happens, construction of the project will begin next spring and be completed in early 2007. The system would replace 235 existing individual septic systems. According to the engineer's report, 72 percent of those septic systems do not meet current state codes.

The project, which was requested by property owners on Lake Florida, located in northern Kandiyohi County, includes installing a low-pressure sanitary sewer force main around the lake.

That pipe would be connected to about six miles of new trunk line that would be installed along County Roads 29, 9 and 32 and eventually tie into the existing Green Lake Sanitary Sewer and Water District system on Green Lake near Spicer.

Homeowners would also have to purchase and install individual grinder pumps and low-pressure lines that will go from their home to the lake's collection pipe.

The total assessment for each homeowner is estimated at $14,180.

Aside from one resident wrote a letter that said the cost of the project was too high and would force seasonal residents off of the lake, property owners told the Commissioners they wanted the project to proceed and encouraged them to take action to do so.

"Today is the day to be proactive, not reactive," said Marv Hey, president of the Lake Florida Improvement Association.

With state pollution regulations likely to tighten around Minnesota lakes, and desire to leave a clean lake behind for grandchildren, Hey said it made sense to support the project. Low interest rates also made the timing good, he said.

Lucas Youngsma, from the Shakopee Creek Headwaters Project, said the collection and treatment system is the "best way to address human waste." Lake Florida is in the Shakopee Creek watershed.

Dr. Bob Kaiser said it is a "privilege" to live on Lake Florida. He said the sewer system would not only help improve the water quality in Lake Florida, but would also improve the water quality downstream.

It would also make it easier to bring the service to other area lakes. To get from Lake Florida to the GLSSWD lines on Green Lake, the new force main would go by George, Nest and Henderson Lakes. It's hoped that residents along that route would also hook up to the system, said Gary Danielson, Kandiyohi County public works director.

Ron Prekker said his family has been on Lake Florida for 48 years and has seen the water quality deteriorate. He said he "didn't like to spend the money" on the project but said it's "a very good investment."

Most of the homes on Lake Florida have individual septic systems, but 14 homes in the Hidden Springs development are served by a private cluster system. The Lake Florida Improvement Association agreed that those homes would not be required to hook and would not be assessed for the project until they needed the service.

Marv Melin told the Commissioners he didn't think that was fair and those residents should pay their share of the cost of putting the pipe around the lake.

Ron Jasperson, who was involved with the Hidden Springs cluster system, cautioned Lake Florida residents to be wary of the reliability and personal costs involved with the grinder pumps. He also said the county should "move forward carefully with this project."

In comments after the hearing, Danielson said the county has a 20-year history with the grinder pumps and said the equipment is "very good."

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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