On Monday, July 7, after enjoying the gatherings and celebrations of the 4th of July, several of the community’s citizens gathered to work on a less star-spangled, more earthy subject: Managing the community’s wastewater.
Bridget Chard, a Small Communities Project Coordinator and Ken Olson, a University of Minnesota Extension Service Educator who specializes in on-site sewage treatment, provided basic information on wastewater treatment, system management and community organization models. They led discussions on topics covering treatment options, system management, community structures, costs and financing, working with professionals and community process. Dusty Hell owner of D.H. Contracting of Littlefork provided displays of septic tanks and a pre-treatment system using peat as a filtering medium.
The approximately two dozen participants of the two workshops included homeowners, seasonal cabin owners, resort owners and other business owners from around the Kabetogama community. Why would they devote three hours on a beautiful summer day to talk about sewer? Some came to get information on how individuals and the community can work together to solve existing or potential wastewater problems. Some came to learn about what constitutes a working system and why maintenance is so important. And some came to express their concern that they may be forced to spend their dollars when they do not have a wastewater treatment problem on their property. All came to find out more about the sewer planning that is happening in their township.
That is exactly why the Township Supervisors provided the opportunity for people to find out more about the direction of the community’s wastewater initiative. What was learned at the workshops and the follow-up informal roundtable discussions the next day reinforced a basic tenet promoted by the community’s Wastewater Committee: The one size fits all “Big Pipe” solution to Kabetogama’s wastewater needs does not fit this community. A developing vision is one where the community works with individuals or geographic clusters of development around the community to solve wastewater problems, maintain working systems and plan for future development.
The group supported this basic goal for the community: The Township and the community’s citizens will be partners in assuring that every home, cabin and business has a working wastewater treatment system and all systems are maintained to assure continued proper treatment for the purpose of protecting and enhancing the community’s health and the environment as we grow into the future.
The participants helped the Wastewater Committee outline steps to continue the effort to engage the community in this important initiative. Expand the committee to include a broader representation of the community. Develop better communications through newsletters, the township website and postings at community businesses. Conduct research to gain a better understanding of existing or potential problems; collect site information and develop a planning map. Continue educational outreach programs.
Jack McMahon, Chairman of the Kabetogama Township Board of Supervisors and the Community Wastewater Committee encourage citizens of all points of view on the wastewater issue to become involved in the process of learning and working together to solve our wastewater problems. Another series of Community Education Workshops will be held on August 17. There will be two sessions, one starting at 1 PM and one at 4 PM. The sessions will be held at the Kabetogama Fire Hall. Free informative pamphlets will be available in advance of these sessions at the community Pancake Breakfast on August 10 at the Kabetogama Senior Citizens Building.