It’s time to pump funds into sewer projects

ich is good in a lot of cases.

Rich is good in the Mega Millions lotto.

Rich is good when it comes to flavor of foods like cheesecake and chocolate.

Rich in nutrition is good for health, but “nutrient-rich” is bad if you’re an oligotrophic lake. Those nutrients come from things like fertilizers, farm animals and waterfowl. Also, decaying human feces from leaky septic systems.

But in Higgins Lake, some residents feel like the proposed $115 million sewer system is too rich for their blood, even as the waters show signs of septic system pollution. The Gerrish and Lyon township-plan is fueling petition drives and animosity between neighbors, reported Bridge Michigan, as sides split between wealthier lakeshore residents who can afford the increased sewer rates, and those lower-income residents in the backlots who see the move as another way to make the rich, richer by mushrooming McMansions with more bathrooms and subsequent hikes in property values.

It’s an understandable quandary. Throw in historic bad blood when lakeshore residents cut off backlot residents’ access to the lake, and the sewer scrap is no mystery.

But the health of Higgins Lake impacts the tourism-driven community in its entirety, and the spike in plant and algae growth is already changing the clear, blue lake into a weedier one.

This change is being echoed across our state’s northern reaches.

Torch, Elk and Skegemog lake communities are among others seeing troubling algae blooms and plant growth, ringed by residents’ divided on the septic tank issue. Our state has about 1.4 million septic systems and the dubious honor of being the only one without a uniform septic code.

But Michigan’s tanks are full to brimming currently with the unprecedented COVID-19 funds. Now is the time to pump funding into sewer infrastructure that will keep our prized fresh waters healthier, while helping lower-income residents make up the difference. It won’t be easy — Northport residents are still smarting over the sewer scrapes of years past — but it can be done.

Our legislators need to lead instead of letting the decaying human fecal matter just flow downstream.

Everyone uses the bathroom, but no one wants to swim, fish, recreate or relax in a toilet.

Nutrient-rich isn’t good, but clean water enriches us.

— Traverse City Record-Eagle


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