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Published: Monday, 2/3/2014

Completion of Whiteford Twp. sanitary sewers delayed

Bad winter blamed; firm gets 90 more days for job

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

OTTAWA LAKE — The harsh winter weather has delayed completion of the $3.3 million project along Memorial Highway to Sylvania that will bring sanitary sewers to this small Michigan village just north of the state line.

Whiteford Township has given its contractor, Dunnigan Brothers Inc. of Jackson, Mich., a 90-day extension to finish the job, which had been scheduled to be completed by the end of January. “The weather just turned on them,” township Supervisor Walter Ruhl said. “It’s pretty hard to get machinery to work when it’s 0 degrees.”

He said the project, which includes boring through ground and installing a 6-inch line, “is already two-thirds to three-quarters done. They ran into a lot more rock than they figured. I think they probably will take every bit of the new time limit. I think this is going to be one bad winter.”

The project is needed. The township was found in violation of Michigan’s Clean Water Act nearly five years ago when E. coli bacteria turned up in a ditch and is under state order to fix the problem. A $2,718,000 federal grant and $680,000 loan are financing the project.

An August groundbreaking at the Ottawa Lake Fire Hall monument marked the project’s start. The site is the location of the project’s main pumping station.

Mr. Ruhl has worked three years to make the project a reality. Many Ottawa Lake households lack even septic systems, and wastewater 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 project will bring sanitary sewers to about 100 Ottawa Lake users, business and residential, who never have had sewers. An arrangement negotiated with Sylvania includes a 40-year contract that allows Ottawa Lake to send up to 125,000 gallons a day to Sylvania’s sewer system.

Sylvania contracts with Lucas County to send more than 2 million gallons of sewage a day for treatment and has plenty of unused capacity with its 5,900 customers. The gallon limit with Sylvania effectively limits the number of customers to no more than 300.

The project will cost Sylvania rate-payers nothing, and Ottawa Lake customers will pay an out-of-state charge that is more than Sylvania customers and non-Sylvania customers in Ohio pay. The project is expected to improve Sylvania’s environmental health, as pollution from Ottawa Lake drains into ditches and is carried by rain into the city and Ten Mile Creek.

Bad weather also has delayed work on Whiteford Township’s plan to improve residents’ poor water quality by drilling a 300-foot well and installing in-ground storage tanks and a treatment/​pumping station. The township has been in the process of drilling test wells, again with the help of a federal grant and loan to cover the $4.3 million cost.

With a capacity of 25,000 gallons a day, “This will bring decent drinking water to the community. You can’t be a community without it. We hope to have it in place and running by the end of summer in 2015,” Mr. Ruhl said.



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