Portage looks at sewer project

PORTAGE TOWNSHIP – A possible project under discussion in Portage Township for 15 or 20 years may actually take place, according to Bruce Petersen.

In an interview Tuesday, Petersen, who is Portage Township supervisor, said the township board of trustees voted at its regular meeting Monday to have U.P. Engineers & Architects do a preliminary study to determine the feasibility of a sewer hook-up for homes and businesses on Green Acres Road and connecting streets.

Petersen said there could be 40 hook-ups for close to 28 homes, businesses and other structures in the proposed project area.

The UPEA feasibility study will help the board determine if funding should be sought from the federal Rural Development program for the proposed project, Petersen said.

“It’s going to be a year down the road before we get an application in,” he said.

Petersen said another sewer project is under construction. Three 10-foot-deep cuts will be made in Canal Road to bring sewer hook-ups to five homes along the road. Originally, the project was to involve drilling into the rock below the road to bring the hook-ups to the houses, but that was determined to be infeasible.

Petersen said it’s intended the homes will be connected to the main at the Houghton R/V Park next to the Ray Kestner Waterfront Park, and then taken to the Portage Lake Water & Sewage Authority wastewater treatment plant in Houghton.

Petersen said the board discussed looking into establishing part of the township cemetery as a “green” cemetery, which means for people who would choose to use that type of burial, there would be no casket or vault used and bodies would not be embalmed.

Before the cemetery could make a move to that type of service, Petersen said the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department would have to determine if the cemetery soil is appropriate for such a system.

“There’s still an area out there (in the cemetery) to do this endeavor,” he said.

Petersen said there are four “green” cemeteries in Michigan. Because there is no casket, vault or embalming involved, it would be a less expensive process.

“It gives people another option,” he said.

Also at the cemetery, Petersen said 19 or 20 trees posing a danger of falling on people or headstones will be felled by Tikky’s Tree Service. Once down, the trees will be cut up by township department of public works employees, and the wood may be given to Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly for their firewood project.

Petersen said some damage done to the irrigation system at the cemetery was recently repaired at a cost of $500.

A recently completed testing of water wells for coliform bacteria in the Royalwood subdivision found four out of the 28 wells in the subdivision tested positive for the bacteria, Petersen said.

About 10 years ago, Petersen said a similar test was done in the neighborhood with some wells testing positive.