Middleton Township residents got the information Tuesday they requested about sewer options - but most didn't like what they heard.
Last month, 56 homeowners on Five Point Road and River Road were told the least expensive sewer option would be a low pressure system with grinder pumps at each home. The area is under EPA orders to have sewers installed since testing by the health department showed fecal contamination in the ditch on Five Point Road.
But the residents last month had two main objections. First, they didn't want the grinder pumps and wanted the Northwestern Water and Sewer District to look at a gravity system instead.
Second, they didn't want to hook up to the system if they aren't responsible for polluting the ditch. Any home within 400 feet of a sewer line would be required to hook into the system.
So district engineers came back with more information Tuesday evening.
First, the gravity system would cost an average homeowner $33,000. And second, they can't avoid hooking into the system that will run along Five Point Road, east of the Shelton Garden area, heading westward to River Road, then north to the Riverbend subdivision.
Some residents still objected to paying for a sewer because of a few offending homeowners with faulty septic systems.
Some blamed the EPA and health department for not taking care of the issue.
And some suggested that as long as they were being forced to hook up, why not spread out the costs more by extending the sewer line to even more homes.
"Sewers are inevitable with development," said Jim Dunlavy, of Five Point Road. "Do the whole project and reduce the costs."
At the homeowners' request, the district engineers presented four options for the sewer project:
• A low pressure sewer with grinder pumps at each home, total cost $1,065,000, or $19,000 per home.
• A combination system with a gravity line on part of Five Point Road and grinder pumps at 34 homes, total cost $1,229,000, or $22,000 per home.
• A gravity with force main system and two pump stations (no grinders), total cost $1,861,000, or $33,000 per home.
• A gravity system for just the Shelton Garden area (no grinders, no pump stations), total cost $1,231,000, or $56,000 each for 22 homes. This option is "not a buildable project," because it is unaffordable for the residents, according to District Engineer Bill Barber.
The gravity system would require a lot more extensive construction since it would reach depths of 26 feet. The grinder systems, on the other hand, would mean "minimal property invasion," Barber said.
The area has been under orders for sewers since 2006. Some Shelton Garden homeowners made improvements to their septic systems, but many didn't. According to residents, the last samples from the ditch were taken in 2011, and some neighbors were accused by the EPA of putting bleach in the ditch to get rid of fecal contamination.
Neighbors inquired about the district's efforts to get grants to help pay for the project. Tom Stalter, an engineer with Poggemeyer Design Group, said Middleton Township residents don't qualify for any grant funding since the last income survey showed the median household income at $87,000 - way above the average.
The next step in the process is for the district staff to review comments from Tuesday's meeting, and form a recommendation on which sewer option the district should select. That recommendation will be presented at a district trustees meeting. Barber said the residents will be notified of the meeting. Barber said he hadn't yet decided, but his recommendation will likely be either the low pressure system or the combination system.
One Five Point Road resident, Mary Clayton, questioned if the board would listen to the residents since the trustees are paid by the district. "Who are they really looking out for," she asked.
Barber said the board will take citizen comments under consideration. "They are very concerned about the public," he said.
Mike Stoll, district assistant engineer, warned the project won't please everyone.
"Everybody has their own little twist on it," Stoll said. "It's very difficult to satisfy everyone. So we looked for the best solution for everybody."