Arenac and Wexford county receive $3.4 sewer upgrades to address contaminated water

Old sewage systems have contaminated surface and groundwater in Arenac County for years, according to officials with the Michigan USDA.

This month the USDA announced more than $3 million in grants will be going to two towns in Arenac and Wexford counties to fix these systems.

Arenac County is receiving $2.3 million and Wexford County is receiving $1.1 in grant money.

Jim Turner is the USDA Rural Development State Director for Michigan. He said in addition to the grants, both counties have been awarded loans. The town of Mesick is receiving a $1.7 million loan, and Standish, in Arenac County is receiving $787,000 in loan money.

He said residents are using summer cabins and seasonal homes more than in previous years.

“Residences are now being used on longer periods of time which stretches the system. And the county health department has pointed out that this problem is one that needs to be addressed. Fecal material is finding it’s way into Lake Huron,” Turner said.

Turner said there are more than 200 homes with ineffective systems in Arenac County.

“So we’re going to finance the construction of a sewer system that’s going to connect to the Saganing tribal waste water treatment plant. And then we’re going to build a water distribution system to these homes,” Turner said.

He said many of the systems in Wexford County are also in need of repair. Many of those, he said, are 20 years old.

Both projects are in the planning stage and Turner said he is not estimating how long the work will take to be completed.