Source: Sherman Publications

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Sewers: ‘In 50 years, never this close’

by Susan Bromley

July 24, 2013

Ortonville- For decades, bringing sewers to the village has been little more than a topic of discussion from time to time.

But years of all talk and no action are finally changing and sewers could be a reality within the village if the council continues on their current course.

"In 50 years, we've never been this close," said Village Manager John Lyons. "We have the property, we have a discharge permit, and now we will have a project plan."

During their July 22 meeting, the village council unanimously approved ROWE Professional Services Company to develop a project plan at a cost of $14,900. The plans will be for what will be known as the Ortonville Sanitary Sewer Collection and Treatment System.

Lyons expects a draft of the project plan to be completed by ROWE in September. The plan would be ready for public review in January.

ROWE was the low bidder for the project and in a bid letter proposal, Leanne Panduren, principal/civil utilities division manager for the company, outlined a scope of services in the project plan, including developing a system layout and conceptual treatment plan; updating all estimated costs of construction; reviewing environmental impacts; coordination with appropriate review agencies; and facilitation of public hearings and development of ballot language if necessary.

ROWE will also update an S2 grant application for the village to submit at no additional charge, Panduren added, which would pay for 90 percent of the project plan's cost and will also fund design for the project later.

Submitting the project plan is also the first step in obtaining a loan for construction of the waste water treatment system from either the State Revolving Fund or the Rural Development Program. The State Revolving Fund spreads loan payments out to a maximum of 20 years, while the Rural Development loan has a 40-year maximum. Lyons said if the village proceeds with sewers, the Rural Development loan would probably be chosen, because while the interest rate is slightly higher, the monthly payments would be lower due to being spread out over a longer period of time.

The village is not eligible for any grants for construction of sewers, he added, because the 2010 Census said the average household income in the village is $61,800. To qualify for a grant, the average household income must be $38,000 or less.

The village has 1,500 residents in one square mile. ROWE will provide a project plan that has several alternatives, including phasing sewers in. The school district will be covered regardless of which plan is chosen, if any, Lyons said.

Lyons would not speculate on cost of the system, but said it would likely be a pressurized system rather than gravity-based. In a pressurized system, directional drilling would cause less impact on roads in the village.

A public hearing on the Ortonville Sanitary Sewer and Collection Treatment System could be held in February, according to a preliminary schedule Lyons has drawn up, followed by project plan submission to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The project would not be ranked for construction loan funding until fall 2014, however, and the earliest it could be bid for construction would be April 2015 under the SRF loan process. In the RD loan process, it could be bid in September 2015. Under the SRF loan process, construction could begin in July 2015 and be completed by September 2016. If the village chooses the RD loan, construction could begin in January 2016 and finish by April 2017.

All of this is contingent upon whether the village council moves forward with design after the project plan is completed.

"The village has to decide whether to do it or not," said Lyons. "I think they should do it—it's important for the village and health and welfare of everyone in the village."