With help from a $36,000 grant by the Higgins Lake Foundation, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources will begin construction of wastewater treatment system improvements at the North Higgins Lake State Park next year.
The wastewater system will consist of pump station improvements and new force main construction to connect to the Higgins Lake Utilities Authority (HLUA) wastewater treatment facility, also known as the Camp Curnalia-American Legion project. This will allow for the abandonment of the existing North State Park wastewater facilities.
According to State Park officials, the HLF grant was a prime factor in the Park’s ability to secure additional state funding for the project which will provide a level of treatment that will be a significant improvement over that provided by the existing system.
Larry Fox, Project Manager with C2AE Engineering, said that “since both systems discharge treated wastewater to the groundwater, which vents to Higgins Lake, the improved level of treatment will help ensure the continued high water quality in Higgins Lake into the future.” He noted that the larger Higgins Lake South State Park is already connected directly to the Houghton Lake sewer system.
According to Vicki Springstead, HLF chair, the Higgins Lake Foundation was founded in 1989 as a non-profit organization to preserve and protect the environmental quality of Higgins Lake and its watershed. It has a long history of working with the Michigan DNR and DEQ on projects to benefit the lake.
“The Higgins Lake Foundation helped to fund the original HLUA treatment facility which remediated sewage problems in a densely populated area of the lake,” Springstead said. “The HLF also worked with the DNR to establish the first boat wash on Higgins Lake at the North State Park in 2009, and last year the Foundation paid for a boat wash within the Higgins Lake South State Park.”
According to Springstead, other grants from the HLF have provided for water quality testing, septic system repairs at Camp Westminster on Higgins Lake and the purchase of a suction boat to remove invasive species from the lake.
“Our funding comes from individual donors and small community grants. Without their support none of this would be possible,” Springstead said. “The Higgins Lake Foundation is thrilled to be able to contribute to the health of the lake in such a significant way,” she added. “And to be able to collaborate with the DNR & DEQ on a project of this magnitude is a good example of private and public entities joining forces for the good of all.”
The current project at the North State Park is a direct result of a 2014 study prepared for Gerrish Township that reviewed wastewater collection and treatment needs for the near shore areas of Higgins Lake. The study was funded by the Higgins Lake Foundation and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality S2 Grant Program.