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Diamond Lake to be connected to sewer system

ATWATER -- Diamond Lake residents will get a new sanitary sewer system next year.

In a unanimous vote Friday night, the Kandiyohi County Commissioners approved a resolution to expand the Green Lake Sanitary Sewer and Water District to Diamond Lake.

The $6 million project includes installation of individual grinder pumps on the 371 properties. It will replace existing septic systems or holding tanks, including the 69 percent that are non-conforming.

Because many lots are small, the only options for most homeowners is to install a holding tank or hook up to the GLSSWD system, said Brad DeWolf, engineer from Bolten & Menk.

A common collection line will be put in around the lake that will connect to a lift station and a trunk line that will carry sewage to the treatment facility in Spicer.

The decision brings to a close nearly five years of discussion between the county and lake residents.

"This is a decision-making meeting," said Kandiyohi County Public Works Director Gary Danielson, as he addressed about 100 people who attended the public hearing in Atwater. "Tonight is the night."

There were 11 people who testified on both sides of the issue.

Bruce Johnson, whose family history on Diamond Lake goes back to 1852, said in the early 70s residents fought a proposal to put a sewer system around the lake. Back then, he said, it was agreed that if Diamond Lake kept grown something would eventually have to be done.

"The time has come and I believe it's time to do it," he said. "The most feasible thing is to hook up to the system," said Johnson.

But Terry Hayden said "money is tight for everyone" now and the tough economy make will it difficult for homeowners to handle the $16,329 assessment and monthly operating costs and fees.

"What's the harm in waiting a year?" he asked.

The Diamond Lake project will follow on the heels of a project in the nearby town of Kandiyohi, which received a grant to pay for 90 percent of their project to join the GLSSWD.

Because the grant money will pay to install 13 miles of trunk line that will go by Diamond Lake, the assessments to Diamond Lake were reduced by $2,500 from the original estimates.

Pete Hoaglund said is was "by dumb luck" the project can be done around Diamond Lake for the same price as it would've cost 4-5 years ago.

Given the likelihood that construction will only get more expensive, and given the possibility that the state could eventually mandate sewer systems around lakes, Hoaglund said his family would "rather tackle this thing now than in the future."

John Piotrowski said it would be a "disservice" not to do the project now and hoped his grandchildren "aren't here 80 years from now discussing the same issue."

But even with the reduced costs, Carl Zeidler said the cost is still too much to bear for many people.

"You're making a budgetary decision for me," Zeidler told the Commissioners.

The Commissioners are laying off employees and implementing furloughs to get through their budget crisis, said Zeidler. "We're not unlike you in these hard times," he said, pleading with the Commissioners to find a different alternative.

"You need to understand the personal effect your decision will have on me and others in the room," said Zeidler, who was the only speaker to receive applause.

Some residents, like Bruce Monson, took issue with the Commissioner's ability to decide what will happen on Diamond Lake when previous surveys indicated 70 percent of Diamond Lake residents didn't want to hook up to the GLSSWD.

He claimed Commission Harlan Madsen had said the county "will not ram this down our throats."

In the end, it was Madsen who made the motion to move ahead with the project.

In later comments, Madsen said he appreciated the "very thorough and thoughtful" testimony made at the hearing. During the last couple weeks, he said he'd received 25-30 calls from residents and all but two were in favor of the project.

Madsen said he felt it was his responsibility to make a decision, knowing that whatever decision was made "somebody is not going to be happy."

Chairman Dennis Peterson said he knew there would be opposition to the project but said he is "happy we can move forward."

With go-ahead vote, surveys and design work will begin and the project will be put out for bids. Another hearing will be held in April after the bids are received to make a final decision on whether or not to proceed. Construction is expected to proceed unless the bids greatly exceeded the estimated cost.

Carolyn Lange

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

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