THREE OAKS — The ongoing effort to avert incurring extra operating expenses for the Village of Three Oaks’ lagoon-based sewage treatment system is now faced with the mystery of the sudden surge.

During the April 13 Village Council meeting, Mary Nykamp of Wightman & Associates said results of a recent second-round wastewater testing program involving a series of sampling stations in the north part of the village captured “an event that occurred at the beginning of the sampling period at Location 2 (north of the village limits along Three Oaks Road).”

She said the event is believed to have involved “a potential release that involved maybe some volume that might have surcharged areas of the sewer.”

Nykamp added that there are indications the surge from Location 2 may have been large enough to have pushed water back into some downstream sections of the system.

She said the sewer system was extended past Kruger Road around 2004 to attach to a building being used at the time by Vickers Engineering (that firm has since moved its operations to New Troy).

Nykamp said the Location 2 line is in an area where the village does not provide water service, so the amount of usage from the other end can’t be measured through that system’s records.

“We need to do some follow-up with that building owner and just discuss what’s going on and make sure that we can correct that,” Nykamp said.

It also was agreed to check if any of the few homes along the sewer line extension are connected.

Later in the meeting it was noted that a user overloading the sewage treatment system could be cut off from it if other remedies don’t solve the problem.

The village is seeking to alleviate “high-strength” sources of wastewater through pre-treatment programs or other methods to reach “domestic strength equivalents” at or below the 300 parts per million per liter BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand) level desired by state regulators.

The second round of testing discussed on April 13 indicated a number of “data points” above the 300 level (some only slightly), and Nykamp noted that anything higher than that level is considered non-domestic high-strength by the state.

She said a meeting with state representatives was scheduled for April 14.

Nykamp said the village faces the challenge of trying to get all of the users on the system under the 300 BOD level to maintain the “general” state permit it currently has and avoid aeration at the lagoons.

“I believe that the State of Michigan will likely still require treatment at the lagoons (which requires an industrial pre-treatment program – IPP – and an individual permit) with this information, however if we can get a handle on this Location 2 we can do less treatment,” she said.

Nykamp said setting up and running an IPP program requires an employee or outside contractor qualified to handle it.

Also on April 13, council members discussed issue related to the possible acquisition of the county-owned building at 21 North Elm St. that is home to Village Hall.

Village Manager Dan Faulkner said estimates on needed work involving the floor in the northeast corner and the driveway have been received, with figures still being sought for the front door, the area around a concrete pad and tuck-pointing. He later said remodeling, removing asbestos from the basement

Council members generally agreed that some sort of an appraisal on the value of the building should be obtained, ultimately deciding to seek a “market appraisal.”

Trustee Steve Graziano said the village could always sell the building if owning it doesn’t work out, adding “But I don’t think we should want to sell it.”

Village President Richard Smith said they could be looking at spending $100,000 – at least. He suggested putting $1,000 a month into capital improvements for the building.

Trustee Becky Thomas said they don’t have to spend it all at once, and can fix the things that need to be fixed immediately and hold off on other issues that can wait.

The idea of using the now vacant space inside the building that once housed a County Health Department office for village offices was discussed, but high renovation costs were predicted.

If the 21 North Elm building were to be owned by an entity other than the village, Smith said he would be interested in the former village office location if they could find a new home for the School of American Music.

The county has offered the building to the village for a “nominal fee,” and Graziano said “this building, low-end, has got to be $700,000, right?”

The issue of obtaining the 21 North Elm building was tabled with the idea that village officials will continue to explore it and ask county officials what the nominal fee is and request some repairs to the facility.

In other April 13 business the Three Oaks Village Council:

• Heard Faulkner introduce the new Administrative Assistant/Utility Billing Clerk Theresa Schmultz, who said she was “really happy to be here.”

• Learned that an application to establish a “microbusiness” marijuana establishment in the village will go before the Planning Commission in May.

• Agreed to purchase new firearms for the police department (five 9mm Glock 17 handguns, four holsters and four tactical lights) at an overall cost of $846 once existing guns are sold.

• Received an update on plans to display 50 two-sided veterans banners (representing 100 local veterans) on light poles in the village June 3-13 and Nov. 4-14.

• Were told of recommendations from the Planning Commission regarding short-term rentals by Trustee Colleen Newquist including raising the annual fee and imposing a substantial fine on those who don’t register their properties. Thomas said the list of STR registrations reflects 5.5 percent of the village’s homes.

• Renewed a proclamation designating Three Oaks as a Tree City. It also was reported that 24 trees are being planted in the village through a joint effort with the Harbor Country Rotary Club.

• OK’d a $64,866.50 road project on Cherry Street, Nells Street and Tulip.

• Approved street closures for the June 12 Flag Day Parade and the June 11 Flag Day 5K.

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