By Gari Voss
Friday, March 26, 2023, about 9am, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE) and the Allegan County Health Department were informed that a discharge had been detected in a remote drain field of the sanitary system at the Shangrai La Mobile Home Park near Saugatuck.
Per state regulations, Michael Stephens, the certified operator with SCS Systems, LLC, notified EGLE and the County Health Department along with the local news service of the problem. The report detailed that the drain field discharge was “surfacing in multiple locations across the field”. The surfacing is suspected to be from broken tiles and/or fittings. This situation has occurred before, and repairs were made.
Stephens explained that the “discharge was of untreated or partially treated sewage, which is not characterized by Retention Treatment Basin (RTB), Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO), and Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) discharges.”
After discovering the seepage on Friday at 8:25am that ceased at 8:45am, Stephens learned that the park manager and an EGLE employee had been aware of the problem prior to Friday, but the manager had not informed the operator. The operator did not know what agreement for corrective actions had been discussed with EGLE, but began making appropriate plans.
Because of its location, “the drain field was isolated from receiving any additional wastewater by switching the discharge back to the field located inside the park” until the repairs can be made to repair any tile or fitting failures.
“This drain field is not in an area where any discharge can move to open water,” shared Jacob Wheatley of the Allegan Health Department. “The field will be covered with lime that has antibacterial properties to neutralize bacteria. The lime along with the natural soil filters will contain the seepage until the repairs can be completed.”
Jeremy Rubio of EGLE believes, “Stephens is respected in assessing and following up with problems related to sewage systems. As soon as the field dries out, excavation can be done, and repairs will be completed.”
At this time, the water at Shangrai La is safe for use.