By Brian Freiberger
The village of Schoolcraft proposed to buy property from Schoolcraft Community Schools at June Village Council and School Board meetings to protect its current well site and to install a third well at a four-acre site several hundred yards north.
State officials have told the village it needs more control of property on the west side of its two adjacent wells located south of Cass St. and east of Pearl, owned by the school district, to protect from possible contamination. The water main which connects those wells to the village system via a water main on Cass Street is in need of repair. Village officials are planning to build a second main parallel to the first to carry water while the original main is being repaired. That will require an easement from the school district.
A third well is proposed south of Lyons and west of the high school football stadium, also on school district property.
The Department of Environmental Quality has pushed the village to gain control of a 200-foot radius around the west side of the current well site during the past several years to ensure water safety. “If something were to happen at that location. We would all be out of water. We have all of our eggs in one basket,” said engineer Dan Lewis of the Kalamazoo consulting firm of Prein and Newhof during a presentation at the school board meeting.
The school board did not decide whether the village can purchase any of their properties or indicate a set price. But, the discussion was positive and flexible between both parties, “We’re not opposed, we just need to have a plan,” said Superintendent Rusty Stitt.
Lewis said the connection between the existing wells and the water main on Cass needs to be repaired in 2018. If the village can’t come to an agreement with the school for the 200-foot radius control area, it nevertheless will need to come to an agreement for the easement on the school’s property, he said.
Lewis said the third well site was chosen for its proximity to the village water system. “This is the right parcel of land that has the least amount of water main to build to hook it up to the system,” said Lewis.
The village of Schoolcraft has applied for a $25,000 well-head protection grant from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to further investigate the testing of the third well site. That grant will be active for a year starting Oct. 1. “We are at the point that we are spending real money,” said Lewis.
Lewis and Village Manager Cheri Lutz indicated the village should begin both projects together. But the 200-foot control of the current wells and easement are the village’s first priority.
Village officials hope to have an agreement to purchase the properties before October, so that the village can start the project Oct. 1.