By ELIZABETH DANEFF
Capital News Service
LANSING — A proposed $1 billion state bond program for sewer upgrades could help solve Leelanau County’s septic and holding tank waste-disposal problems.
In a House-approved amended bill sponsored by David Mead, R-Frankfort, local governments that have septic systems in environmentally sensitive areas would have higher consideration for state loans to fund sewer improvement projects.
The state would give funding priority to local governments with environmentally sound projects that address septic systems that have the potential to pollute nearby water systems.Mead said funding priority also would be given to smaller communities that have spent a lot of time and money during the planning process for their projects.
“Under the original bill, most of the funding would have gone to Southeast Michigan,” Mead said.”What we’re attempting to do is put more money in communities near freshwater supply that have failing septic tanks.”
“The whole driving force here is to get money out to smaller communities that need the help,” Mead said.
In an interview last month, county Commissioner Robert Pisor, D-Leeland, said the county has almost come to a crisis in septic and holding tank waste disposal.
He said Leelanau is one of the fastest growing counties in the state, and its issues with septic waste disposal could force taxpayers to purchase a county waste treatment facility. That could cost taxpayers $15 million to $20 million.
Leelanau is just one of several counties that has problems with septic and holding tank waste disposal. The lakeshore’s sandy soil is not suitable for normal septic tanks.
Until February, holding tanks were installed at new homes in areas where septic tanks could not be installed. But the Benzie-Leelanau County Board of Health put a permanent ban on holding tanks for new residential construction.
Grand Traverse and Benzie counties still allow holding tanks.
Mead said he and Rep. Jason Allen, R-Traverse City, expect the measure to win favor in the Senate as well. The Engler administration reportedly is neutral on the bills and the package is likely to go before voters for final approval in November.
© 2002, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism
By ELIZABETH DANEFF