Mason residents concerned about biosolid spreading

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MASON, Mich. (WLUC) - Residents raise concerns about spreading treated sewage biosolids near Mason.

TV6's Houghton-Hancock Bureau Reporter Mariah Powell spoke with Portage Lake Water and Sewer Authority officials to find out whether these concerns are valid and how they can be addressed.

"We really are concerned about the complaints but we just don't quite understand them," said sewer authority board chair Neil Hutzler.

Mason residents first noticed the smell in June.

Portage Lake Water and Sewer Authority resumed spreading biosolid waste on the Mason Stamp sands last spring. On top of the smell, residents are concerned how the waste will impact their water supply and local wildlife.

"We're concerned about pharmaceuticals that have not been taken out of the sewage and those are concerns to us, for the wildlife and also for us," said resident Michael Heisler.

The Class B Biosolids spread contain 10% of the pathogens found in sewage.

Sewer authority officials advise it is not safe to enter the property for 30 days after a spread. They admit they cannot control wildlife traffic. However, they based on previous years of monitoring, local water sources are not in danger.

"After a while, since we weren't finding any contaminants in the ground water they told us that we didn't really have to continue monitoring the groundwater," Hutzler.

The sewer authority previously spread waste on the property from 1968 to 2012. The goal was to establish a soil cap as part of a reclamation project.

"This has been stated as a reclaimed brownfield site. The cap has been established. So, under the DEQ regulations this should be a completed project," said third generation resident Linda Heisler.

Sewer authority officials say their work is still beneficial to reclaiming the site.

"Well for the site, the biosolids stimulates plant growth. The cap that they put on the Mason sands was deficient in organic matter and nutrients," said sewer authority superintendent Zane Mackenzie.

Several Mason residents have discussed an interest in purchasing the property for community recreational use. Hutzler said selling the property in the possibility, but he has to consider what would best serve the Houghton and Hancock communities.