New rules could increase cost of water

Kali Katerberg/Daily Mining Gazette John Hamm (left) and Tony Smydra listen to updates Monday at the Ontonagon Village Council meeting.

ONTONAGON — In a short but well-attended meeting, the Village Council discussed new requirements to monitor lead in water pipes, which will probably increase the price of water.

In his report, Village Manager Joe Erickson detailed the new Michigan Department of Environmental Quality lead and copper rules. For residents the changes could lead to higher operating costs locally and statewide, Erickson reported.

The increased cost comes from state requirements to dig up sections of pipe to check the lead levels.

Under new rules levels of lead requiring action will be 10 parts per billion (ppb) down from the previous 15. Public water systems will also need to inventory lead in supply systems by 2020.

The inventory must be verified by 2024. All lead lines must be replaced and new sampling rules will be put into place.

“It’s a very small number that they’re dealing with, but they are lowering those standards,” Erickson said. “A part per billion is equivalent to a drop of ink in an Olympic-sized swimming pool,” he said.

The change to these rules will be open for public comment until March 7.

Locally, the proposed village budget is now available for review with a public hearing set at the March 12 meeting at 6 p.m. Copies are available at the village office.

In other news, the Ontonagon recreation plan was officially accepted unanimously and marina fees for 2018 were recommended with no changes.

A draft of zoning fees was reviewed. The schedule will need to be reviewed by the planning commission for the final recommendation before approval by the council, Erickson said.

“Basically it’s general fees, right now we charge no fees for our zoning,” Erickson said.

The vote to refer the zoning fee schedule was unanimous.

The position for a new village clerk/treasurer is now posted with Michigan Works and accepting applications until March 16. The position will start around July 1 as part-time.