Nicolville to break ground on sewer system

Published 6:57 am Thursday, May 6, 2010

Nicolville, a small community just east of Austin, seems set to finally receive a sewer system, which would end a years-long problem of raw sewage being dumped into Dobbins Creek.

Red Rock Township, in conjunction with the Southeast Minnesota Wastewater Initiative, announced Wednesday that a ceremonial groundbreaking for the project will be held next Tuesday. The sewer system is expected to be completed in about two months.

Though Nicolville is only comprised of 14 homes, the wastewater problem has been a major problem for many years. John Mueller, the township chairman, said previously that he was notified by the state that the situation is a “top-5” clean-up priority because raw sewage is essentially flowing into Dobbins Creek and, eventually, East Side Lake. In a press release, Mueller also indicated that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is prepared to fine residents $500 per month if a solution isn’t found.

The solution seems to be near, though it took many years of research, negotiations and court procedures to get to this point. Sheila Craig, a community sewage treatment facilitator with the SMWI, said she’s been working on the project since 2004. In that time, various areas for the sewage system were discussed and later thrown out because of one problem or another.

The area that was settled on for the treatment facility — which will consist of several mounds — is a patch of farmland near the 14 homes. However, that land was privately owned, and the owners — John Ginther and eight others that form a limited liability company based in the Twin Cities — didn’t want to sell.

The township eventually filed for eminent domain, and a judge ruled in Red Rock’s favor earlier this year. With no appeal filed by Ginther, the project was able to move forward.

The system, which is estimated to cost $588,000, will connect the 14 homes to the treatment facility on the farmland. Much of the cost is expected to be covered by state grant funding, though Craig said 25 percent of the tab will come to the township in the form of a loan, which will be repaid over 10 years by Nicolville residents.

Mueller said he’s just excited to be at the point where such project specifics can be discussed.

“I’ll feel even better when the system is operating,” he said. “But to cross this threshold is huge.”

Nicolville sewer project groundbreaking ceremony

What: A kick-off of to construction on a sewage system in Nicolville. Refreshments will be provided afterward at the Red Rock Township Hall.

When: May 11, 5:30 p.m.

Where: On 220 Street, about 0.5 miles west of Highway 56, or 3 miles east of 28 Street Northeast