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Letters to the Editor

Lake Arispie Sanitary District to fix obsolete sewer system

Residents and landowners in Lake Arispie Subdivision, unincorporated Bureau County, Illinois, could benefit from the organization and operation of a special district, known as a Sanitary District. On Nov. 12, 2015, the 13th Judicial Circuit Court, Bureau County, ordered the question be placed on the March 15 ballot.

When the sewer system that currently serves the subdivision was constructed in the 1960s, it was not constructed by the developer according to the plans and specifications included in the original Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) permit. The sewer system consists of a “lagoon” that is currently the sole process for treating domestic sewage. IEPA reports have indicated the lagoon may be leaking into the groundwater system. Those IEPA reports have also stated the single cell lagoon does not provide adequate treatment under the present Illinois Recommended Standards.

The subdivision’s developer and its controlled private entities that were responsible for the sewer system ceased maintaining the sewer system and abandoned it. The sewage treatment plant was acquired in 2005 by Lake Arispie Homeowners’ Association Inc. through a tax sale. The association engaged an engineer for advice concerning needed renovations and obtained bids for the project. Despite the association’s best efforts, it has been unable to raise sufficient capital and lacks the borrowing capacity needed to move forward with the project. Further, the state of Illinois and Bureau County have declined to step in and finance the renovations needed. The association desires to turn over the system to a sanitary district with the ability to do the job.

If the proposed sanitary district is established by referendum, the new sanitary district would levy a corporate tax and special assessments upon real estate located within the subdivision to help finance the needed renovations to, and ongoing maintenance of, the sewer system serving the subdivision. With a sewer system that functions as intended, groundwater quality will be protected, and the sewer system will be compliant with applicable IEPA regulations. It is anticipated property values within the subdivision will improve dramatically with the needed improvements, significantly increasing the value of the investment made by residents and owners alike.

The proposed sanitary district’s boundaries are the same as the boundaries of Lake Arispie Subdivision. The governing board of trustees of the sanitary district would be comprised of three residents of the subdivision, nominated by the county board chair and confirmed by the county board. The trustees would serve staggered terms. The district would enjoy many of the powers and authorities that municipalities have in Illinois and would function similarly.

To ensure the highest water quality, guarantee environmental compliance and enhance the investment made by the owners and residents of Lake Arispie Subdivision, the sewer system currently serving the subdivision must be upgraded to modern standards. Both private parties and existing governments have failed to address this problem. It is time for the residents of Lake Arispie Subdivision to act. Vote for Lake Arispie Sanitary District.

Joseph D. Russelburg, chair of

the Lake Arispie Sewer Committee

Princeton

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