Middleton Twp. residents protest sewer plans
Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN/Sentinel County Editor
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 09:10
Middleton Township residents unhappy with a sewer proposal sent the planners back to the drawing board Tuesday evening.
In no uncertain terms, they made two points clear to officials from the Northwestern Water and Sewer District.
First, they don’t want grinder pumps in their yards — even if the alternative gravity system is more expensive.
And second, if their homes aren’t polluting the ditch with sewage, then they don’t want to hook up to the system.
Ninety minutes into the public presentation on the sewer plans, Middleton Township Trustee Penny Getz summarized the feelings of the neighbors.
“You’re never going to sell these people on grinder pumps,” she told district officials. If the residents want to pay more for the gravity system, then so be it. “It’s your obligation to give them what they want.”
“You’re wasting your time,” she told the district engineers.
Middleton Trustee Fred Vetter agreed.
“The people don’t want this system,” he said.
So the engineers said within the next month they would come up with a plan for a gravity
system — the system which they had scrapped before because of the expense.
And while the engineers are back at the drawing board, the residents also insisted that district officials see if the sewer project can be confined to the Shelton Garden area on Five Point Road, where the most obvious sewage contamination was found by the Wood County Health Department.
“We’ll re-look at everything,” said Tom Stalter, with Poggemeyer Design Group.
The current sanitary sewer proposal covers 56 homes starting on Five Point Road to the east side of the Shelton Garden area, heading westward to River Road, then north to the Riverbend subdivision. The enter route of the system would be 1.3 miles.
The area is under an EPA order to have sewers installed since testing by the health department showed fecal contamination in the ditch. The problems were first noticed more than 10 years ago when some “city folks” who moved out to the township didn’t like the smell, according to one of the residents.
Mike Stoll, assistant district engineer, explained that even if the faulty septic tanks are on Five Point Road, the sewer line has to transport the sewage to a pump station north on River Road.
“We have to collect and convey it to a system somewhere,” he said.
Any household within 400 feet of the sewer would be required to tap in.
“If a public sewer is available to the property, you have to connect,” said Bill Barber, district engineer.
Two proposals were presented Tuesday evening. One called for individual grinder pumps to be placed at each home. The other called for a combination of grinder pumps plus some gravity systems along Five Point Road. The costs ranged from $945,000 for the first, and $1,085,000 for the combination plan.
The timeline had construction starting next January, with the project completed by June of 2014. Homeowners would have 120 days to crush their old septic tanks and hook up to the new sanitary sewer line.
But several residents protested the use of grinder pumps.
“We went with the most cost affordable system,” Barber explained at the beginning of the meeting.
“It was discarded rather quickly because of the difficulty in construction,” Stalter said of a gravity system.
But neighbors were suspicious of the grinders, which are 70-gallon tanks dependent on a mechanical system run by electricity.
“It’s eventually going to seize up and have problem,” Vetter said.
Others questioned what would happen if the electricity went out. Stoll and Barber said the district has maintenance crews that respond to emergencies such as power outages.
“If you have another Blizzard of ’78, you guys aren’t going to get there to pump them out,” one man said.
“Gravity is not going to fail,” another said, advocating for the other system.
The district engineers explained how the grinder systems are maintained by the district, and cost an estimated $1 a month for electric operation. They showed photographs of buried grinders with just the lid visible, and told residents they have input on exactly where they are placed. The engineer said the district has 468 grinders in operation, and have experienced no problems with power outages.
But the neighbors weren’t convinced. They told the engineers to come back with another plan for a gravity system — even if it is more expensive.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 March 2013 09:17