Golden Township: Silver Lake Sanitary Sewer

Welcome to the Golden Township Silver Lake Sanitary Sewer project page! This is a public portal site reserved for future planning of the Silver Lake Area wastewater facility project. Here you can find information about your project and provide input.

(Updated February 5, 2019)

Golden Township – Silver Lake Sanitary Sewer System Project
Preliminary User Assessment/Monthly Cost Distribution

Residential:   
Assessment* – approximately $850/year (total assessment cost of approximately $19,500)
(Covers each property owners share of collection system, treatment plant and on-lot costs.
Monthly User Charges – approximately $30/month  
(Covers operations and maintenance of the system including collection system, treatment plant and on-lot system)

Vacant Parcels:
Assessment* – approximately $360/year (total assessment cost of approximately $8,500)
(Covers each property owners share of collection system and treatment plant, no on-lot improvement costs – unimproved property only)

Commercial/Campgrounds:
Assessment* – approximately $360/year per REU (total assessment cost is approximately $8,500 times the number of REU’s for that commercial site)
(Covers each property owners share of collection system and treatment plant, on-lot improvements separate)
On-Site Improvement Cost – Varies, costs to be paid by property owner either directly or by connection fee based on actual on-site improvements needed to meet established public sewer specifications.
Monthly User Charges – approximately $30/month per REU
(Covers operations and maintenance of the system including collection system, treatment plant and on-lot system).

NOTES
*all assessment costs are per REU (residential equivalent unit).  All residential and vacant parcels have 1 REU.  Commercial property total REU’s vary by use and business size.  Yearly assessment cost is based on a low interest 40-year assessment payback.  Estimated yearly costs are for year 1, following years will decrease as assessment interest is paid off. 

The Township has met with USDA-Rural Development and gathered information on grant programs that are available to help low and fixed-income residents.  Details of these programs will be provided at the public information meeting. 

Public Information Meeting – Proposed Public Sewer System for Silver Lake Area

Date:  Saturday April 13; 10:00am

Location:  Grace Adventures, 2100 N. Ridge Road, Silver Lake, Michigan  49436

Please note that this informational meeting will be held in a webinar format for those who cannot attend the meeting in person.  Details of how to access this meeting by webinar will be provided soon.     

We continue to encourage property owner comments through this portal and will continue to respond individually to them and in updates directly to the project portal so please encourage your neighbors to ask the questions that they have prior to the public meeting.   

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is this project needed?

All sanitary waste around Silver Lake is discharged to onsite treatment systems, composed of septic tanks with drain fields and many have aged beyond their design life. Proper maintenance and/or system replacement is more difficult due to high water tables and limited available land. Due to the close proximity of the septic systems to the lake, high ground water table and highly permeable soils nutrient loading into the lake has been an ongoing problem. Numerous studies have recommended a centralized sanitary sewer system to solve this problem. With increased growth will come increased nutrient loading to the detriment of the Silver Lake water quality. The need for a centralized collection and treatment system is great.

2. How was the sewer service district determined? Why was Upper Silver Lake not included in the sewer project? When will sanitary sewers be extended to Upper Silver Lake?  

The current sewer service district and proposed project construction will serve only those parcels who are directly tributary to Silver Lake (i.e. surface water flows directly to Silver Lake or via Hunter Creek). The Upper Silver Lake area is not included in this project.  That said, the project has been planned so that Upper Silver Lake can be added as a future service area through expansion of the collection system and wastewater treatment plant at a later time.

3. What are the estimated costs per user for the project?  

The Township is currently working with our consultants to determine preliminary user costs for businesses and residential users. It is the intent of the Township to provide these costs to users ahead of the public information meeting, so they can be further discussed at the meeting.

4. What methodology is proposed for user costs?

The Township Board has been discussing a combination of a Special Assessment that can be paid over 40 years and a monthly user cost that can be adjusted up or down based on actual operation and maintenance cost of the sewer system.

5. How will low or fixed-income residents afford to pay for their share of the project?

The Township has met with USDA-Rural Development and gathered information on grant programs that are available to help low and fixed-income residents. Details of these programs will be provided at the public information meeting.

6. Who will maintain the sewer system once it is constructed?

The new sewer system including on-site holding tank, pump, discharge line and electrical control panel on your property, sewer mains in the streets and the wastewater treatment plant will be owned and maintained by Golden Township, or a Utility Authority that may be set up to own/maintain the system. The Township will need to secure an easement from you for the sewer improvements on your property. The piping from your home or business that connects to the new holding tank and pump will still be owned/maintained by you as the property owner. The holding tank on your property will be periodically pumped by the Township at no additional cost to the property owners.

7. What is a STEP system and why is it being planned instead of other more conventional methods?

A septic tank effluent pump system (STEP) allows the solids to remain in the holding tank and the liquids to be pumped and treated at the wastewater treatment plant. The STEP system has been shown to be the most economical way of handling sewer waste in a lake area such as Silver Lake.

8. Will new septic systems be allowed to remain in place and re-used as part of the new sewer system?

The Township Board is grappling with this issue now and will have more information at the public information meeting as to how this will be addressed. The Board is aware that there are newer septic systems in place and that permit applications for new or modified systems are frequently submitted through the County Health Department (CHD) for approval. Some issues behind this question include the need to build a uniform system to allow cost-effective future maintenance; how to objectively determine what an acceptable system is based on condition or age. These and other factors impact the decision to allow existing septic systems to remain in place and utilized with the new public sewer system. Another issue being discussed is how will the CHD permit septic systems to new homes or renovations in the interim, until the new sewer system is constructed and operational. These are some of the issues that the Board is addressing with its consultants ahead of the public meeting.

9. Why not enforce maintenance for existing septic systems?

The Township has no permitting or enforcement authority of septic systems. They are permitted and inspected through the County Health Department. The County has limited staff for enforcement and even if they had the staff the cost of enforcement would likely be significant. Also, a properly working septic system still discharges its untreated liquids into the ground /groundwater, which makes its way into Silver Lake.

10. Is the State Park on Silver Lake included in the service district?

Yes, the State Park is included in the Assessment District and will be connected to the new sewer system.

11. Will the roads be torn up for construction during the summer months?

Much of the piping for the project will utilize an underground directional drilling construction method, avoiding impactful open cut construction. We anticipate minimal road disruption during the summer months.

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