Sewer Feasibility Information

Lyon Township Gerrish Township 

Sewer Feasibility Study Information


August 22, 2019


As the summer season progresses, so does work on the Higgins Lake sewer feasibility study.  A large part of the effort is creating and evaluating concepts for collecting and treating wastewater for Higgins Lake. Our engineering firm, Fleis & VandenBrink, continues to develop, evaluate, and refine different types of wastewater collection and treatment systems.  Representatives from Lyon and Gerrish Townships continue to meet with F&V to discuss progress and provide input.  We anticipate conducting a public informational meeting this fall where updates will be provided as well as an opportunity for residents to ask questions.


In advance of the informational meeting, we are providing resources for our residents to learn about the water quality in Higgins Lake as well as information about how onsite septic systems work and the potential impacts to surface water quality.  Please take time to read the information below. 


******Click on the below titles to take you to the information******


Septic System Information


Septic Tanks Aren’t Keeping the Poo Out of Our Rivers and Lakes (MSU) – MSU publication from 2015 about septic tank density and bacteria. This is a quick and easy read; this article highlights that even properly constructed & functioning onsite systems don’t necessarily treat wastewater.


Nitrate in Drinking Water Fact Sheet (EGLE) – Drinking water wells can be impacted by septic systems when installed shallow or in high density areas


Septic Systems and Surface Waters (EPA) – Interactive web page with short descriptions of septic system operation in relation to nearby surface water


EPA’s Septic Smart for Homeowners (EPA) – Detailed information from the EPA about how septic systems work and how they are maintained


MSU Extension – Septic System Education (MSU)Michigan State University Extensions version of the EPA’s Septic Smart. Many good links and resources available.


Managing Household Wastewater in Sensitive Shoreline Areas (MSU) – Published in 2012, this article is a short and easy read and highlights the risk of septic systems along shoreline.


Managing Household Wastewater in Sensitive Shoreline Areas (MSU) – Published in 2008, the first pages of the article below provides additional information about the risks and maintenance of septic systems along shoreline.


Groundwater and the Rural Homeowner (USGS) – In-depth web publication about the Hydrologic cycle, groundwater-surface water and how groundwater issues occur


Health Department Sanitary Code (Central Michigan District Health Department) – The Sanitary Code for Roscommon County per the Central Michigan District Health Department. 


Detailed Studies on Higgins Lake


US EPA National Eutrophication Survey on Higgins Lake (EPA, 1975) – A baseline report created by the EPA on Higgins Lake in a nation-wide study of eutrophication


U of M Biological Station Water Quality Study of Higgins Lake, Michigan (UofM, 1985)  A report from 1985 from the University of Michigan and Central Michigan University as an intended baseline for future studies.


Effects of Residential Development on the Water Quality of Higgins Lake, Michigan (USGS, 2001) This report summarizes a five-year sampling effort by the USGS intended as a tool for regional planning for the protection of Higgins Lake.


Changes in nearshore water quality from 1995 to 2014 and associated linkages to septic systems in Higgins Lake, MI (MSU, 2014) This study concentrated on the ecological changes in the water quality of Higgins Lake and compares analytical results to the USGS report in 2001 to make conclusions of the water quality changes. There will be a 2019 update to this report completed by MSU.


July 01, 2019 


Representatives from Lyon and Gerrish Township met last month with our Engineering firm, Fleis & VandenBrink(F&V) and held the first of several progress meetings to discuss the Higgins Lake Wastewater Sewer Feasibility Study.  


As one of the first steps in completing an engineering study, we discussed potential areas that could be served by a sewer system.  We understand that one of the first questions our residents may have is who may be included in a sewer system.  Having clear parameters to determine which properties should be included is important.  Key factors were discussed, and we began prioritizing and focusing a potential sewer system in areas where it would be most needed and provide the largest benefit.  Some of the factors being evaluated include proximity to Higgins Lake, depth to groundwater, soil types, existing septic conditions, and size of property.   


F&V also shared that they have begun calculating the amount of wastewater that may be generated by a sewer system in the Higgins Lake area, as well as investigating how wastewater could be treated.


Although the feasibility study is underway, we are in the preliminary stages and no decisions have been made.  We know that sharing information and giving opportunities to ask questions is important. As we continue to make progress, we will provide more updates and have opportunities for our residents to ask questions.


May 15, 2019


We are excited to announce today that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded Lyon Township a planning grant to study the feasibility of a public sewer and treatment system in the Higgins Lake area. The study is in the preliminary stages.


Over the next four months, our Engineering firm, Fleis & VandenBrink, will prepare the study with input from Lyon and Gerrish Township officials. The study will investigate potential sewer service areas based on environmental, land use and public health impacts, prepare alternatives and costs for collection and treatment, and conclude with a recommendation to the Townships based on both need and cost considerations. 


Both Townships are committed to keeping residents informed and involved.  We are planning a public meeting at the end of August of 2019. Preliminary findings from F&V will be presented and residents will have the opportunity to ask questions and provide input.  Throughout the summer, we will provide additional updates on this website.


After the study is completed, the Townships will evaluate recommendations, costs, and potential funding opportunities, and decide if a sewer system should be pursued further.