(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third of a series regarding the efforts to create a sewer conservancy district on Tippecanoe Lake.)
LEESBURG — Opponents to the Tippecanoe Lake Conservancy District have stated during the past 22 years the water quality of Tippecanoe Lake has been tested by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Lilly Center for Lakes and Streams at Grace College and the Kosciusko County Board of Health.
According to conservancy district opponents, these groups have published reports stating the water quality, clarity and cleanliness of the Tippecanoe Lake chain is excellent, thus a sewer system is not necessary. They have also alleged the county board of health reports low E.coli levels and new septic systems meet required standards.
On the opposite side, the initiative states there are areas of Lake Tippecanoe where homeowners cannot flush toilets, shower or do laundry when water levels are high or after heavy rains. Because the health department has no formal or consistent process for regulating septic systems they will not formally state septic systems have failed.
On Oct. 19, 1995, the deputy administrator of the Kosciusko County Health Department stated the upgrade of septic systems in high water table and sloping area are not, in the long run, feasible. The reasons stated are:
- In most areas virgin soils that have never been used for septic systems do not exist.
- Because a large portion of these lots are used for structure and setback requirements, adequate sizing is not possible.
- Because private water wells do require periodic maintenance or replacement, location of some wells have not been in compliance with the 50 foot separation distance. The county health department does enforce a one and two family dwelling well ordinance. This ordinance was established to achieve the best well placement possible.
- Repairs consist of removing the old systems down past plugged soil, backfilling with spec 23 medium sand, to a predetermined elevation then a stone bed and distribution system. These systems could be considered temporary at best.
- Sloping sites sometimes cause repair systems to be installed at a greater depth than desirable. Evaporation and oxygen exchange are limited at these depths.
The standard for a building site without sanitary sewer is 20,000 square feet. According to information this is more than half the size of the service areas for most Tippy home sites, which are far smaller than 10,000 square feet, based on review of the county GIS and zoning ordinance.
Additionally, Tippecanoe Lake is one of the last Kosciusko lakes to implement a sewer system. Effective water monitoring programs are underway on many area lakes that have completed installation of sewer systems.
The Tippecanoe Lake Sewer Initiative has posted on its website: www.sustainourlake.com a wide range of information, including advantages of sewers, how septic systems may pollute a lake, information about the project including a cost analysis and service area, the impact, a number of articles, videos, and answers to frequently asked questions. There is also an opportunity to contact the initiative and a brochure that can be downloaded.
The Friends of Lake Tippy also have a website: www.friendsoftippy.com, where other perspectives are provided. Information about how a conservancy district impacts individuals, information on a county health department E.coli study and answers to more frequently asked questions can be found.