Lincoln County’s “top political guns” from the city, the county and the Devils Lake Water Improvement District, gathered Monday to try to figure out how to get Devil’s Lake residents on the east side of the lake to hook up to city sewer – the result of which would be to end the lake’s pea soup green that routinely appears during the tourist-heavy summer months. The consensus around the table was that old septic tanks that don’t work anymore are sending largely untreated sewage into the lake and feeding huge, thick unhealthy algae blooms during the summer.
A consultant hired by Lincoln City laid out a plan to create a scaled down sewage collection system for up to 650 homes that could stop sewage from those homes finding their way to the lake. The cost would be something slightly over $7 million dollars to connect the system to the city’s main sewage treatment plant on Schooner Creek.
But several city councilors leaped ahead of the discussion by suggesting that with the recovering economy and increased housing construction east of Lincoln City, the city might consider expanding the project to include more than the lakeside homes that are contributing to the lake’s ailing condition. Some suggestions circled around whether a pumped up version of the limited sewer system could accommodate extra hook-ups. The consultant replied that he thought it would be problematic because the contemplated system would serve just those homes that are contributing to the lake’s polluted condition and that the design – hinging on affordability – could not accommodate a substantial increase in hookups.
So the discussion turned to how to establish a collection system for a wider area – how it would be formed – who or what would run it – and how it would be tied into the city’s Schooner Creek Waste Water Treatment Plant. Again increased costs took center stage.
Some talked of setting up a sewer authority, or district or the city annexing the land – bringing it all inside city limits like they did recently with Roads End.
The consultant tried to bring the discussion back to what was originally presented – a sewer collection system aimed primarily at stopping the annual algae blooms. He reiterated that an affordable sewage collection technology is at the heart of the issue.
At that point the city, the county and the Devils Lake Water Improvement District decided to keep exploring what other options might be “out there.” No word on when the three entities might sit down again to move the issue forward.