Today the Local Area Watch gets to report a success story. Grattan Township resident Ed Hawks and a group of his neighbors, after a long battle, finally got the State of Michigan to hold Earth Tech Inc. responsible for the spilling of sewage into Big Crooked and Murray Lakes.
A couple of years ago Hawks and his neighbors discovered sewage in those lakes. Upon investigation they learned that it was the result of electrical failures at two of Grattan Township's sewer lift stations. The township had recently replaced the management of its sewer system by Kent County with the private contractor Earth Tech. When the concerned township residents initially tried to get to the bottom of this failure, they encountered resistance from both Earth Tech and the township officials.
Earth Tech was uncooperative because it was their electrician who had done faulty electrical work at the lift stations without plans, permits, or inspections. That screw-up caused the sewage spills into Big Crooked and Murray Lakes, and Earth Tech did not want to own up to it. Township officials dragged their feet at first, because they were the ones who had decided to replace the county with Earth Tech. They were reluctant to admit that they might have made a mistake.
However, a subsequent sewage spill resulting from another electrical failure at a lift station began to break this official resistance to taking effective action. Hawks and his neighbors managed to get the State of Michigan to take interest in what was happening, and township officials became responsive. Starting in the summer of 2005, the state's Office of Local Government & Consumer Services headed up a series of conferences to collect the facts of what happened and get Earth Tech's explanation for the failures of the lift stations. At the end of the process, the state concluded that Earth Tech's faulty and undocumented electrical work on the lift station was the cause of the sewage spills.
Therefore, on October 6, 2006, the Michigan Bureau of Construction Codes & Fire Safety ordered Earth Tech to reimburse Grattan Township $45,691.47 for faulty electrical work, pay the township another $5,000 for code enforcement costs, and pay a civil fine of $10,000 to the State of Michigan. [Editor's note: The $45,691.47 figure was originally reported as $5,691.47. See the comment section for additional information.] Furthermore, the Earth Tech employee responsible for the faulty electrical work had to surrender his electrical contractor license. Failure to comply with this order by December 5, 2006, will result in revocation of Earth Tech's electrical contractor license.
Congratulations to these concerned citizens of Grattan Township who made a difference.
Meanwhile, residents and taxpayers of Grand Rapids, remember who Big Sister, a.k.a. Mayor George Heartwell, is paying $150,000+ a year to keep his pal Corky Overmeyer on the payroll to manage the city's "environmental sustainability". That's right, those sewage spillers Earth Tech!