Community Feedback

This page contains responses to specific questions to United Voice from the Silver Lake community.  Some of which we received via email ( and others from Facebook groups where we’ve posted information.  They are in order of receipt.

1) QUESTION: Will septic liquids be checked and/or soil tested ? If Soil passes and nutrients are good, then that’s it? My septic passes? Thank you,
1) ANSWER: Effluent and drain bed will both be tested. The nutrients level in effluent is one test, drain field test is for proper operation. The type of soil under the drain field could help determine acceptable effluent nutrient levels.  That is something that still requires further investigation.


2) QUESTION: Hi. I own a house in Mears and am interested in knowing what your current “plan” is? I’ve read what is available I believe and don’t see anything specific. What exactly are you trying to put in place? And I’m looking for specifics, not just “good working septics”. Are you aiming for mandatory inspections? If so at what time would that be done? Time of sale? Every so many years? Have you included or considered the evil side of any and all ideas? Such as inspectors getting a piece of the pie for saying  a good septics as bad? Septic CO’s working deals for the same? Whatever plans you come up with as a suggestion, I would ask that you consider the dark side of each. Humans are by nature, good but there are always business people who see a way to make more money or individuals within a business who look for a back door to make more money. If inspections is your key point, how will that improve the campgrounds, hotels and businesses along the lake? And how will this address the garbage flowing down from Upper SL through Hunters Creek and into SL? Hunters creek is a cesspool. Appreciate the response. Linda
2) ANSWER:  *working on answer*


3) QUESTION: Will a currently permitted/approved District 10 Health Department septic system meet the “additional standards” implemented in this ordinance at its first inspection”? – “HD10 does not currently “permit” systems, they do specify what is necessary and inspect instillation. HD10 for the past several years has mandated Advanced Treatment Units (ATU) for parcels near water or water table. Those systems, with addition of Phosphorus absorbing material addition, will pass the proposed ordinance criteria.” The last sentence “Those systems, with addition of Phosphorus absorbing material addition, will pass the proposed ordinance criteria.” So… septic systems which were installed without Phosphorus absorbing material will not pass the proposed ordinance criteria? I have read the District 10 code and see no where that Phosphorus absorbing material is required in the code. If this material has not been required in the code is it safe to say the answer to my question is- No, unless your system has Phosphorus absorbing material. ????? If Phosphorus absorbing material is necessary to pass the 1st inspection under this draft ordinance, and was not required in the District 10 code is it safe to say most septics in SL do not have the ability to pass inspection and therefore must make changes to their system?
3) ANSWER:You are correct, there are currently no provisions in HD10 code for Phosphorus (P) remediation. It would be required under the proposed UV ordinance as currently written. For removal of P a vessel can be added relatively easily to an ATU system with a medium that will absorb the P. P removal is of utmost importance as it is currently the limiting factor in algae growth in the lake, the lake is loaded with Nitrogen N waiting for P to utilize for nutrients for growth. Since our lake is void of plant life for competition of the nutrients the available nutrients are utilized for algae growth.


4) QUESTION: So to be perfectly clear… if you do not have an ATU system which includes Phosphorus remediation (which is not required in the HD10 code) you will need to upgrade to pass the very first inspection under this proposed ordinance? Yes or No please.
4) ANSWER: Yes, upgrades will be necessary. As stated, there are revisions still to be made to the proposed draft of ordinance. We are looking for feedback to help guide any changes and certainly would be interested to hear your thoughts on it.


5) QUESTION: Why did UV add additional standards beyond enforcement of current District 10 sanitary code in this proposed ordinance (Section 7.0 REQUIREMENTS 1-9)? – The current written standards of HD10 are minimal and do not address the nutrient issue. We were advised by H D10 that any local ordinance written must exceed their written standards. Wouldn’t having an ordinance requiring an inspection on a timeline basis meet HD10’s direction that a local ordinance exceed their written standards since we would be requiring inspections that are not required in HD10’s code?
5) ANSWER: Yes, HD10 has no provision for mandatory inspection therefore mandating inspection exceeds their current requirements.


6) QUESTION: I am waaaaay behind on the septic issues and progress due to life circumstances, but I have a question. Was it ever determined or pinpointed as to what/who specifically was causing the lake water quality issues that caused the whole sewer system debate? Im asking that in the context of my next question which is will everyone be required to update their existing septic?
6) ANSWER: it has been determined that our former lake management company killed all vegetation in the lake. Because of this all available nutrients in the water are available to be utilized for algae blooms and growth. I have learned thru all this that septic system effluent (liquids) contain nutrients in the form of Nitrates and Phosphorus that runs thru the sandy soil to the water table much quicker than in an “earthier” soil. These nutrients then migrate to our lakes and streams feeding the algae. Please let me know if this explanation helps.


7) QUESTION: To all the main #1 issue in my opinion is to enforce the district 10 codes on existing septic systems. If they are not in compliance then the Owner fixes. I spent over a year trying to work with UV when it was the silver lake homeowners group to stop a expensive sewer system and now UV seems to be pushing a similar plan with Sledghammer systems? Maybe I missed something here but see a huge push from people in our UV group? Just curious as I have been out of the loop directly for a while. I also find it frustrating that things are posted here (FB) but when comments are made, we are told to post to the UV group?
7) ANSWER: The current HD10 codes as written are being enforced, there is no ongoing inspection criteria there. UV is not SLDAPO. UV is a non affiliated group comprised of members from SLDAPO, FOSL, and the community at large. The plan as currently written costs (depending on an individuals current system) at most approximately 1/3 of what the sewer was to cost. UV is not mandating what must be used to meet the criteria, only that it be met. Personally, I’m hoping to see innovation at work! What has been proposed are recommendations. As stated they are certainly works in progress and open to discussion. In the end we as a community need to solve this issue however the documentation that does it is written.


8) QUESTION: Where does the Silver Lake Improvement Board fit in to all of this? Are they in the review process of the proposed ordinance? The draft version was submitted to the Planning Commission. Have they had any questions or comments that can be shared with us John Q Public?
8) ANSWER: Thus far SLIB is not involved in this. The Planning Commission meets tonight (2/25) , we hope to get feedback from them then. That feedback will be shared with the public


9) QUESTION: Does the proposed ordinance include all businesses within the Septic District that is defined by the shaded map attachment to the ordinance, or is this applicable to homes only?
9) ANSWER: Great question! It applies to all homes and businesses in the Shaded area.


10) QUESTION: If you are living ON the lake then sure, you all should be doing at least the minimum to make sure your septics are working properly. Should you be required to go over and above industry standards? No. Should there be some sort of inspection system? Sure. But Again I feel the companies who pump should be expected or required to report malfunctioning septics. I don’t understand how they aren’t required to do so now as it is a health issue. They should be fined for NOT reporting it to the health dept
10) ANSWER: Aerobic technology is standard in many situations including proximity to open water or water table in many communities. Our own HD10 has been mandating them for several years in proximity to water and watertable situations even though it isn’t listed in the sanitary code.


11) QUESTION: I did share with (RESIDENT) the home that I built on sand in 1988 was in a subdivision with 5 man made lakes. These lakes are surrounded by houses on 50-75’ wide lots, not just houses on one side of the lake. I just verified that they are indeed all still on regular old septics and well systems. The septics are on the lake side of the home, the wells on the road side. All are on sand. All lakes have no flowing water through them to help flush them so according to your studies and facts they should be cesspools. They are not. No ICK, itch or vegetation overgrowth. But the main difference is nobody killed all the vegetation in them either. There aren’t farmers spraying millions of gallons of pesticides nearby either. To read all the articles and posts from FOSL and UV I should think the concern would be more for our drinking water than the lake water.
11) ANSWER: I can’t speak to the soil or water condition of your home as I am not familiar with the specific circumstances at that location. I have looked into, and spoken with, many people on this matter, Nutrient pollution is an undeniable fact. It may not be a direct health risk but is an environmental risk. I would recommend a quick google search to see just how many items show up and look from there, Certainly ALWAYS consider the source when reading. Look up Leelanau and Tip of The mitt watershed to see what they have done right here in the state of Michigan. Ask yourself, why was the vegetation in Silver Lake an issue in the first place?
12) QUESTION: There is a very famous saying with the acronym of KISS. I would suggest entertaining this. The group would get further by keeping it simple vs telling half the twp they will incur several hundreds in inspection fees and then hundreds to thousands more to make their perfectly working septic perform to above normal standards. This is not going to go over well at all.
12) ANSWER: Taken under advisement. Yes, a program will cost money to operate, unfortunately there are people who will not address their systems unless mandated. If a septic system is leaching nutrients into the lake I would contend that it is not functioning as it should.

I don’t know if it is on the site because truthfully the site is not that user friendly or flow very well but I tried to maneuver around it for  awhile but gave up looking. Is there a place where all these costs are broken down and a table showing how you arrived at the $110 per home cost or average or whatever that taxable amount is? Is it based on SEV? Homesteaded vs Non? I just saw the phrase $110 per home on tax bills would be added. I would like to know how that number was ascertained and also how the $275 +  inspection fee was arrived at.  Can you give me the link to the exact page by chance? Appreciate it.
13) ANSWER: Thank you, we will continue to look into ways to make the site as user friendly as possible. We don’t currently have a cost breakdown on the site but will look into adding it. The short of it as currently written is: Administration of the district – $110.00 per property  (This is a high end estimate) Assumes $200,000 opening budget / number of properties included.  This funds salary and mileage for administrator, computer hardware and software, other miscellaneous items to get started. This number should decrease in following years as startup is more expensive. Inspection Fee – $275.00. This is the cost quote from HD10 for a complete septic system inspection. This includes tank, drain field, and effluent nutrient testing. Permit – The actual permit issued is covered in the administration fee. Necessary Equipment – That is tougher to determine as there are many variables such as: current system viability, does the system need advanced treatment, etc. 

14) QUESTION:  I see that there should be attachments to the ordinance, but can’t find them. Where are they?
14) ANSWER:  Apologies for any confusion on the attachments. The four attachments have been identified as necessary items but haven’t been written yet. They will be included as the ordinance becomes more complete. I’ll see if we can add that on the draft to help with any confusion.

1) The address list is currently a map under the “Boundaries” section. The map would be replaced with a complete list of addresses.
2) The sample permit will be the specific permit document.
3) The evaluation report will be the inspection form.
4) The enforcement agent job description will be a complete job description for that position.

15) QUESTION: What is the red area vs the green? Is this just a duplicate of the STEP sewer map. Was there no reconsideration of who should be IN or OUT of the zone?
15) ANSWER: The map is in no way finished and reflects properties within a proximity to water.  Please remember that this is a work in progress and that starting points are needed. I look forward to seeing where it goes from here.