BAY COUNTY — Bay County’s drinking water is about to get a lot cleaner.
The Bay County North Bay Water Quality Improvement Program was approved for a $1 million grant from the state, aiding in its mission to bring the Deer Point Lake area from septic to sewer.
The Bay County Commission approved the grant for permitting and design of the program during their Tuesday meeting. The program is designed to provide sewer availability to approximately 800 existing homes, eventually leading to the removal of old and failing septic tanks and preventing future septic tanks from coming online in the Deer Point Lake Protection Zone.
The design is almost complete, according to officials. Once it is finished, it will take 90 days to select a contractor and around a year to complete to project.
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During the end portion of the meeting, Commissioner Philip Griffitts discussed his support for the program and the possibility of getting up to 800 homes off septic tanks.
“The state would steal that water today if they could,” Griffitts said. “So, it’s great to see the (Department of Environment Protection) and us and everybody working together to try to protect that water source up there.”
Commissioner Doug Moore, whose district is housed in that area, said a lot of the homes that were built in that area were built back in the ’70s and ’80s before a lot of environmental laws were implemented.
“So, the septic systems that were there aren’t to the quality that they are built today and so this will allow us to go out and attack that problem right around where our drinking water is in the Deer Point Lake Preservation area,” Moore said.
Officials said this change will primarily benefit new developments, however, existing developments can hook up to the sewer system if they choose to. Depending on their distance from the available line, there will be a cost to do so, but officials said they are looking into grants to offset these costs.
“Essentially, all new development will be built up there. We’re going to have the ability to draw the sewer lines at that point in time, these sewer lines will run by existing homes,” Moore said. “So, when the septic systems of these houses go out, then we will be able to assist the folks with being able to tap into the sewer system and they won’t have a new septic system going forward.”
This change will also result in reduced bacteria and nutrients entering Deer Point Reservoir and the downstream waters of North Bay, official said.
Moore also agreed this change would be beneficial to the environment and the water in that area. He added this will mean better and cleaner water for the entire community.
“(Septic systems) leak into Deer Point, they create a lot of basically unnecessary growth of plant life and different things along the shoreline and it chokes out Deer Point and it affects the water,” Moore said. “By doing this, it allows us to keep that from being able to leech into Deer Point and it’ll be going into our reuse system and remove it from the waterways.”