2015-09-17 / News

Sewer Upgrades Will Begin Soon in Clark Township

Paul Gingras

In the wake of last winter’s sewer freeze ups, Clark Township will seek either a $120,000 loan for a new sewer lagoon aeration system intended to cut electricity and maintenance costs or a $200,000 loan for the aeration system, upgrades to sewer lines, and a new machine to thaw frozen lines. With a new dock in Cedarville that will tap into the general fund, the township board wants to finance the sewer upgrades rather than use its cash reserves.

The sewer bubbler system is expected to save the township about $8,000 a year in maintenance and cut electricity bills about $21,600 a year. The savings will offset loan payments and the upgrade will qualify the township for a $15,000 rebate through Cloverland Electric Cooperative’s energy savings program.

Complicating sewer line upgrades, pressurized portions of the system are made of plastic. This means pinpointing their location prior to excavation would require an expensive service that uses ground-penetrating sonar equipment. A Grand Rapids company could provide the service, if the township paid $1,200 per day, for a minimum of two days, but the township believes this to be too expensive.

A rough estimate to dig up and insulate sections of the sewer lines most likely to freeze again came in at about $25,000. Township Trustee Jason Sherlund, an excavator, says the costs could turn out to be twice as much, but there is no way to know how much the project will cost until the lines are exposed.

The U.P. Engineers and Architects estimate was based on excavating two feet to lay insulation. The township does not know exactly how deep the pipes are buried or if any of the pipes are buried two feet deep. If the pipes lie deeper than two feet, the insulation could be laid over earth above the sewer lines. This method would help insulate the pipes, but Mr. Sherlund does not favor doing so because the pipes may not lie precisely where the township’s maps place them.

Mr. Sherlund favors exposing the pipes and insulating them. The excavating process will be slowed near electricity and telephone lines.

Excavations will begin soon at White Road on Hill Island in Cedarville, behind The Islander Bar in Hessel, Mertaugh Boat Works in Hessel, and Crooked Tree Lane in Cedarville. These top the list of sites that froze last winter.

Associated with the sewer project, the township’s pipe-thawing machine has been out of service since April. The machine forces warm water through frozen pipes to thaw them. The township ordered a new one built by Wisconsin Motors for $8,500.

The Mackinac County Road Commission has agreed to change the plow blades used by the county to avoid scraping snow off the shoulders of Hessel Point Road. A sewer main line runs beneath the shoulder. Scraping away snow removes natural insulation that protects the line from freezing.

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