BY BENJAMIN J. GOHS, EDITOR
On Tuesday Oct. 4, Melrose Township officials closed on a half-million-dollar loan from the USDA to improve the wastewater treatment system it recently bought.
Purchased on Sept. 13, the SK Utility system will allow the township to offer sewer services to its residents. And, the loan moneys—$540,000 over 40 years—will be used to construct new additions to the wastewater treatment system.
“Now that the utility has been sold to the township, we are going to expand our drainfield system and, eventually, when we have more customers, make the system bigger,” said Melrose Township Clerk Robin Hissong Berry. “As a government-owned system, we qualify for low-interest loans and possible grants. When the system was privately owned, they couldn’t get any of that. Plus, being government-owned, we will have a board of directors who control it and are subject to public hearings and (maintaining) public records.”
Hissong Berry said the purchase and loan are a major step in protecting the quality of Walloon Lake.
The 10,000 gallon drain field will be paid for by the user fees.
“It handles only fluids so everyone will still have to have their septic tank pumped out for solids,” said Hissong Berry. “But, it’s liquids that leak out into the water.”
Hissong Berry said the danger of private individual septic systems failing and pollution local fresh water is a key motivator in creating a public sewer utility.
“The lake would be contaminated if a private system failed,” she said. “When you hear about marshes and beaches being closed, that’s why.”
And, Hissong Berry added, “There is not a statewide sanitation code.”
There is a regional sanitation code but Hissong Berry said there are no regulations mandating that people have their septic systems inspected, evaluated, nor pumped.
“A lot of people don’t even know where their tank is,” she said. “It wouldn’t need very many (septic systems) leaking into the lake and we’d have real bad troubles.”