Residents’ want to prevent LO Village from pumping road water into lake

Mid-day on Monday June 12th a member of the Lake Orion Lake Association called me to ask that I become involved in a Lake Orion Village proposed intention to pump road runoff pollution containing oils, gasoline, road salt, car and boat cleaning soap detergent residues and other road runoff pollutants directly into Lake Orion at 292 Lake View Road.

The second concerned awareness of this came when I was told that this Village intended pollution issue was on the Monday night June 12th Lake Orion Village Council Agenda for discussion to pump Road Runoff Pollutants directly into Lake Orion. Seeking better understanding I called the village manager Joe Young who told me that the subject had been removed from the agenda because Paul Widlak’s lawyer had sent the Village a Cease and Desist Request Document. I later found out that indeed it was discussed at the council meeting as brought up by Paul’s neighbor at 288 Lake View who is in favor of directing the road runoff pollution into the lake. Very puzzling that anyone would want their property value diminished by having their beach water and beach polluted especially when it would particularly negatively affect all the enjoining neighbor’s property values as well as every other lakefront property owner’s investment around the lake.

Needless to say, anyone swimming, boating, skiing or wave jet owner who emerged from the lake with oil or gasoline residue on themselves or their craft would not be a happy camper for health reasons.

This new-found concern of Paul’s and all other lake users caused me to seek clarity as to why the village would even consider directly venting road runoff pollution into our lake. It seems years ago the village significantly widened and asphalted Lake View Road which when coupled with a road grade drop of some 4 to 5 Feet caused rain water to run southeasterly down the hill onto the immediate lake front owner’s property in such amounts to cause damage to garages and homes.

The villages created road runoff problem was attempted to be resolved by putting roadside curbs to block the water flow unto the land towards the lake plus four cisterns under the road to capture the rainwater runoff. This solved the village created problem for years but the village failed to maintain their created cisterns by never pumping them out of the 10 to 15 feet of years of accumulated 10 to 15 feet of road rainwater sediment. Finally recognizing the source of the flooding problem, they pumped the sludge out of all four sludge filled cisterns to reactive them. Paul told me the cistern at the road base of his driveway is now working as it should through several consequential rains.

To describe how a cistern works is to visualize a 4 or 5-foot-wide 12 to 15-foot-deep brick walled bottle in the ground with a grille on top to accept road runoff rainwater. The bottle has no bottom which is where the accumulated road runoff rainwater gradually dissipates or empty’s out from as long as it hasn’t filled up with rainwater road runoff sediment.

However, I have been told that when the DPW pumped out the sludge there appeared to be ground water seeping into the bottom of a sludge emptied cistern. This could happen when the ground soil around the cistern is saturated with the accumulation of a recent rain. This is not uncommon as the rainwater is ground soil filtered by gravity towards to lowest point in the area – in this case the lake which is over 200 feet away. This is the best scenario because as the Michigan DEQ in charge of monitoring runoff into bodies of water says that ground soil filtration is the best way to ensure that pollutants don’t reach a body of water in this case over 200 feet away.

Since there remains village concern that the ground water plane may have risen recently due to heavy rains the following is recommend for strong consideration. As an alternative to the current village proposal to vent road runoff storm water directly into Lake Orion it is proposed to leave all four of the long overdue now pumped out cisterns in place as water repositories but connect the one’s in the road by extending the pipe{s} at the cisterns top they now currently have to vent overflow water to a new large 15 to 25 or more-foot-long and 15 foot deep drywell alongside the easterly side of the road in the easement.  Leave the new drywell stones surface exposed as covering them with soil will just shorten their efficiency.  They can be driven on as required by the landowners and their sight isn’t objectionable.

A drywell is much more functional than a cistern because unlike a cistern a drywell doesn’t have walls and can leak or shed road runoff water into the soil against it from all sides top to bottom unlike a cistern that only sheds water from its bottom

A properly constructed drywell isn’t expensive and usually lasts 10 to 15 years when it must be reconstituted by digging out the 1″ stones packed with sentiment and replacing the stones.  A drywell has a much-preferred maintenance schedule because it only requires one {1} maintenance – a total replacement when it fails after 10 to 15 years.  Upon failure, the silt filled stone column is dug out and new stones are put in the existing drywell hole.  It goes back to work for another 10 to 15 years.  Much less cost and effort plus greater efficiency than the village proposed swirl/filter receptor that requires monthly pollution monitoring maintenance and which will still vent some level of pollutions into the lake according to the DEQ and will strongly fail in an inordinate rainfall situation dumping large amounts of pollution into the lake.

This drywell recommendation mirrors the recently reconstituted drywell in Bellevue’s Unger Park which is functioning beautifully and handles a much larger water flow from the 40 to 50 Bellevue Ave. road drop which is now pitched to the west to deliver road runoff into the Park to the drywell.  DPW Manager, Jeremy Richert, is quite familiar with the Unger Park most positive transformation.  Conversely, and unlike the Bellevue Road drop of 40 to 50 foot, the Lake View Road drop to the south is less than 10 feet.

In conclusion, this recommendation has been forwarded on June 15th to the village management.

Paul Widlak has asked me to issue this Letter to The Editor for him to raise citizen awareness and cause resistance to the village’s proposed intention to pollute our lake which isn’t healthy and will cause property devaluation as well as taxation reductions to the Village and Township coffers. Paul would like to hear of your support in this critical pollution concern.


Fred Fleming

A Concerned Lakefront Resident since 1972 and Lifetime Charter Member of the Lake Orion Lake Association.

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