By JESSICA HULETT
Capital News Service
LANSING — Pete Stalker doesn’t want to “just rest on his laurels” and wait for Lake Cadillac to need treatment from a Proposal 2 bond.
Proposal 2 passed on the Nov. 5 ballot and authorizes the state to sell $1 billion in state revenue bonds over 10 years for low-interest loans to communities to fix sewer problems.
Stalker, Cadillac’s city manger, recently received results from a water quality test of the area that came back “very positive and favorable for the lake.” However, he said that historically, many of Cadillac’s storm sewers terminate at the lake, so a Proposal 2 bond would benefit the lake in the long term.
“We are right now in the middle of a discussion with the (Michigan) Department of Environmental Quality about a couple of things,” Stalker said. “Our lakes are precious to usÑwe want to avoid a problem before it becomes a problem.”
Cadillac is looking at two demonstration projects that would help avoid contamination of Lake Cadillac. One is to create a wetland, which would allow water to filter through before draining into the lake, catching solid materials. The other is to plant natural grasses along the lake near a park and private property.
“We’d rather do that than plant green grass that needs fertilizing,” Stalker said. “But it will require funding.”
Stalker said he heard there was some concern about most of the money from Proposal 2 going to Southeast Michigan, but he said there is a common view that he agrees with.
“We have the largest treatment system in Detroit,” he said. “And if it needs fixing, it will benefit all of us in Michigan.”
Stalker said that Cadillac does not have overflow problems, but that storm waters naturally enter its lakes because of sloping land in the area.
“It’s easier to avoid problems than to fix them,” he said. “This (projects) is a great way for us to not get into that position.
“We want to make sure our lakes are safeguarded.”
From both state and local perspectives, tourist activities on the water, such as fishing and boating, have not been affected, but Stalker said Cadillac administrators are ready to help if problems arise. He said a local group of citizens is talking about fishing right now and whether to plant certain species; they mostly have habitat concerns.
“I don’t see a problem here to be fixed,” Stalker said. “But we’ll help them if they come up with some issues; there may be some spillover we can help them with.”
Carol Potter, executive director of the Cadillac Area Visitors Bureau, said she also has not seen any less tourism activity on Cadillac’s waters.
“The biggest draw to Cadillac is the lakes,” she said. “It is still the largest draw, but we’ve got to get some snow and ice and cold weather (for the winter season).”
Tourist activities on the water definitely depend on the weather, according to Kirsten Tava, public affairs specialist for Travel Michigan, the state’s tourism-promotion agency.
“It’s staying nice a little bit longer, so we see our winter activities delayed,” Tava said.
Tava said she hasn’t really seen a decrease in water activities, just a change in the start and end of the seasons, which will vary activities. Water activities are a major part of the state’s tourism and the Proposal 2 bonds may improve on that, she said.
“Visitors don’t just go to a beach town to enjoy the water, but it’s part of the driving force to draw people,” she said. “And knowing that there are some areas we’d like to see cleaned up, I think Michigan has one of the best systems for protecting those areas.”
Potter also favors the bonds and what they could do for the state’s waters.
“Of course, I’m all for anything that will preserve our lakes,” she said. “We welcome any projects to do that.”
The state departments of Treasury and Environmental Quality have been discussing when the bonds will be available for communities, how the communities can get them and how much they will be. However, there is no definitive timeline.
“The department directors are in the process of leaving,” said Janet Hunter-Moore, executive director of the Michigan Municipal Bond Authority in the Department of the Treasury. “The staff people are discussing it so we can be prepared.
“We have been talking about it only generally.”
Because of the change in governors, many department heads traditionally will be replaced after the first of the year.
© 2002, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism
By JESSICA HULETT