Michigan and Indiana residents organizing against proposed - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Michigan and Indiana residents organizing against proposed sewage plant

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People who live near Garver Lake in Michigan are angry about a potential new neighbor.

It's not a done deal yet but there's a proposal to put in a new wastewater treatment plant west of Elkhart Road.

Neighbors said their big concern is the environmental impact.  In fact they've formed a group called SORE, which stands for "Save our Resources and Environment."  They've also passed out flyers that include a picture of a gas mask.

Robert Donnelly is one of the neighbors against the proposed wastewater treatment plant.  He said the plant would be very close to his property, and that's not what he wants.

"To have the waste treatment plant right here and dispensing in a creek that comes off my property is pretty sad," said Donnelly.  His property features wetlands that he's concerned about.  "All these geese and ducks we brought back are gonna be gone.  They're not gonna wanna be here with that wastey water," said Donnelly.

But not everyone is against it.  Ontwa Township Supervisor John Brielmaier said the Township wants a wastewater treatment plant because, "A lot of it has to do with finances, financially Elkhart has been raising our rates."

Brielmaier said the plant would be built about 300 feet west of Elkhart road at the outlet of Garver Lake.  He said it's time for them to have their own wastewater treatment plant because since 2000 they've been pumping about 9 million gallons a month to Elkhart.  "For what we're paying Elkhart right now we can put in our own waste water treatment plant and operate it for about the same amount of money if not less."

Brielmaier said he knows residents in the area our concerned, but he said the plant won't smell.

Brielmaier said, "I'm trying to do what's in their best interest.  Control the costs, provide good service to them."

Donnelly isn't sold.  "It's gonna down my value, my house value 30-50 percent you know so it takes away everything I've worked for all these years, ruins the wetlands I've preserved and put all my money into saving."

Brielmaier did say the treated wastewater would go into the outlet of Garver Lake and then down a drain to the Indiana state line, He said at the state line it turns into Cobus creek.

And now there's a group that's formed in Elkhart called "Save Cobus Creek"  Those who live along the creek said they have several concerns about the treated wastewater coming through the creek.  Cindy Herms said, "Overall my concern is an environmental concern.  I have a 10 year old boy who plays in the creek non stop along with all of the children in the neighborhood."

Those with Save Cobus Creek said they're also worried about flooding and how the wastewater will impact fish in the creek.

People with Save Cobus Creek, The Elkhart Conservation Club, and SORE all plan to attend and speak at a meeting about the proposed plant in Ontwa Township on April 14th.  That meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the Ontwa Township Hall.

Ontwa Township said they are looking to have the plant open in the Spring of 2016.  The St. Joseph River Basin Commission said Cass County has received approval for a construction loan from the USDA rural development for the plant

But the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality said this is still early in the process.  They are just reviewing the application now, they have not issued any permits for the plant yet.

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