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Published: Wednesday, 9/27/2006

Exeter Township advances plan for new water district

BY BENJAMIN ALEXANDER-BLOCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Exeter Township is on track to establish a third water district to manage its contaminated water supply.

It will hold the first of two public hearings for this proposed 11-mile water main at 7 p.m. Monday, at which time the official resolution to establish the district will be voted on, Supervisor Cheryl Baltrip said.

ARCADIS, a Toledo engineering firm, has begun the survey work.

"We hope Exeter Township will authorize us to do design work for the project by early October," said Jim Williamson, the manager of the Exeter project for ARCADIS.

ARCADIS submitted the plan for a state revolving fund loan last April. According to this plan, the project is needed because the existing ground water in the southern part of the township in Monroe County is high in hydrogen sulfide, which causes corrosion and objectionable taste and odor.

The plan states that the ground water is prone to condemnation because of Karst geology, which allows fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides to enter the ground water from the surface.

Karst is a special type of landscape that is formed by the dissolution of soluble rocks, which can cause sink holes, fissures, and underground streams and caverns. Surface water can then move through these geological structures, move into the ground water, and contaminate well supplies.

"Because of the poor well-water quality, a lot of these households have built holding tanks for their water systems, but these are also prone to bacterial contamination," Mr. Williamson said.

So far, the township has received petitions from more than 50 percent of about 230 households in the proposed district, a necessary step to remain eligible for the low-interest state loan the township is relying on to finance the project.

The township is third on the state's list of 47 projects, but only 32 of these projects are for the upcoming fiscal year, said Chip Heckathorn, chief of the revolving loan and operator certification section for the Michigan Department of Envi-ronmental Quality.

"We're in the process right now of finalizing our priority list for funding projects [for the fiscal year that] starts Oct. 1, 2006," said Mr. Heckathorn.

For the last five years, everyone on this list has received funding, Mr. Heckathorn said.

The Exeter project is estimated at about $4,510,000, according to the plan the township submitted to the state revolving fund loan program.

Supervisor Baltrip said there will likely be a special assessment of $16,949 per resident that could be paid over a 20-year period at a fixed interest rate of 2.6 percent.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will only charge the township 2.125 percent for the loan, according to Mr. Heckathorn, but it is common for municipalities to charge their residents higher rates.

To remain eligible for this state loan, the township, with ARCADIS at its helm, must follow a strict timetable. It must submit design specifications to the City of Monroe by April 1, to the state by May 1, and then the state must approve these specifications by June 22. Mrs. Baltrip said she hopes construction begins in late October, 2007.

Residents would not be charged the initial assessment fees until the December, 2007, winter tax bill, she said.

The first public hearing on this project will be held 7 p.m. Monday at the Exeter Township Volunteer Fire Department at 6158 Scofield Rd. The date for a second public hearing will be decided at this meeting.

Contact Benjamin Alexander-Bloch

at babloch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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