By Sue Moore
The rains finally came, not just in Louisiana but in southwest Michigan too. Particularly hard hit were the east and south shores of Indian Lake, where homes sit only a few inches above the water table. It didn’t just rain, it poured about five inches in a matter of a few hours, stopped and came again a day later and then in another few days.
Word had it that Road Commission repairs on U Avenue where Indian Lake flows into the creek were a possible pinch point for the water from the lake to drain. Randy Smith, Brady Township supervisor, said that plenty of water was coming over cement walls erected by the Road Commission to help them repair the bridge, so this was not a factor.
The flooding around Indian Lake on East Indian Lake Drive which has not subsided as fast as usual has affected the sewer system ringing the lake. The South County Sewer and Water Authority (SCSW) noted that its wastewater pumping station that handles 292 homes, including the 187 connections within the Indian Lake Nazarene Camp, was up to the task. Rich Pierson, director of the Authority, said they had the help of a booster pump to keep up with the floodwaters that entered the pumping station as a result of the significant rainfall that started the second week of August. At first, it was necessary for pump trucks to temporarily assist with hauling storm and wastewater from the station, but then the City of Battle Creek was able to loan the Authority a spare generator and pump that allowed the Authority to keep up with the flows.
Storm water is supposed to be kept out of the sewage disposal system. Pierson was asked how floodwaters enter the wastewater pump station. He explained that during a flood, storm waters enter the public sewer from a number of sources, be it a basement or crawl space floor drain, through manholes in the flooded streets, and through any underground sewer pipes, public or private, that may not be properly sealed.
The other major inflow that occurs is from homes that have improper basement groundwater sump pumps connected to the public sewer (such as B-dry “type” systems around basement foundations). Pierson and Smith believe there are 10 to 20 of these connections on East Indian Lake Drive that contributed and are still contributing significant storm water to the lift station at the corner of East Indian and South Indian Lake Drive. These connections are illegal. The staff of the Authority will be performing analyses of the system and inspections of the suspect homes. The Authority board will then determine to what extent these property owners are liable for their portion of the excessive costs incurred, Pierson said.
The two local officials, Pierson and Smith, responsible for the Authority and the township, applauded the Village of Vicksburg’s Department of Public Works who assisted the Authority through this emergency to date, including the recently retired Manager Ken Schippers who also provided volunteer assistance.