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OTTAWA LAKE — Sanitary sewers finally are coming to this small Michigan village just north of Sylvania.
On Wednesday, a groundbreaking ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. at the Ottawa Lake Fire Hall monument, marking the start of the project that will see a 3.2-mile sewer line run south along Memorial Highway into Sylvania. Work is expected to be finished by the end of the year. The groundbreaking site will be the location of the project’s main pumping station.
Whiteford Township Supervisor Walter Ruhl has been trying to make the sewer line a reality for 2½ years and said it is the first township project of its kind.
“This is something that Whiteford has never done in its history. This is a big moment for the residents of Whiteford Township and Ottawa Lake,” he said.
The arrangement with Sylvania includes a 40-year contract that will allow Ottawa Lake to send up to 125,000 gallons of sewage per day to Sylvania. The city contracts with Lucas County to send more than 2 million gallons of sewage per day for treatment and has plenty of unused capacity with its 5,900 customers.
Initially, 100 households and businesses will connect to the sewer line. The gallon limit with Sylvania effectively limits the number of customers to no more than 300.
The project will cost Sylvania rate payers nothing, said Kevin Aller, the city’s director of public service.
Ottawa Lake customers will pay an out-of-state charge that is more than Sylvania customers and non-Sylvania customers in Ohio pay. The Ottawa Lake service will benefit Sylvania’s environmental health, as pollution from Ottawa Lake's leaking septic systems goes into ditches and is carried by rain into the city and Ten Mile Creek.
Many Ottawa Lake households have no septic systems, and waste water runs into a storm sewer that runs into a creek. Other homes with septic systems are on rock or clay, which is Ottawa Lake’s geology, and drain into the water table.
The situation put Whiteford Township in violation of Michigan’s clean water act almost five years ago when a strain of E. coli bacteria was found in a ditch.
The sewer line, with its pumps and grinders, will cost $2.78 million. Most of that amount will be financed with a $2.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A low-interest loan will pay for the rest. The contractor is Dunnigan Brothers Inc. of Jackson, Mich.
The cost to customers of connecting to the line will be about $300 per year for 40 years, Mr. Ruhl said, or $6,000 paid up front.
Mr. Ruhl said the inability of the township to correct the clean-water violation was one of the reasons he sought the supervisor’s office. “They were chasing themselves around in circles, and I said we’re going to make a straight line and get it done. It’s been a long time coming.”