By Graham Sturgeon, staff writer

 USGS GRANT – Spicer Group engineer Ron Hansen and Shiawassee County Drain Commissioner Tony Newman proposed to the Board of Commissioners a United States Geological Service grant during the board’s Aug. 19 Committee of the Whole meeting.

The board voted to submit the pre-application paperwork to join with 15 other Michigan counties in applying for the grant. That would bring 3D elevation mapping capabilities to the county to help in farming, drainage and flood plain location along with site development. The county, if they so choose, will need to match the grant funds with a roughly $60,000 payment of their own by next March. (Independent Photo/GRAHAM STURGEON)

The Shiawassee County Board of Commissioners heard a presentation from Spicer Group engineer and surveyor Ron Hansen during their Wednesday, Aug. 19 Committee of the Whole meeting regarding a potential grant that would be used to develop a 3D elevation program for the county. The board voted to add the item to the agenda for their Thursday meeting where they decided to submit the grant application to the United States Geological Service, with a decision on funding to be made later. The grant requires matching funds of $100 per square mile of county land, which would amount to roughly $60,000.

The high-resolution elevation data would provide more accurate mapping and would be most beneficial in assessing drainage districts and routes, mapping flood plains and planning for construction and land development. Hansen said that “accurate one-foot contours would be developed with the data,” which is much more detailed than mapping capabilities the county currently has.

“The best elevation map the county currently has is a 10-foot map created 50 years ago,” Hansen said on Wednesday. “This data will be a big improvement and will allow the county to properly delineate assessment districts, and it will also provide much better flood plain info. Farmers, engineers and developers would all benefit from this data.”

Hansen explained that the program is on the national level and that 15 other Michigan counties are currently applying together in an effort to increase the chances of grant approval. The USGS has stated that grant applications, which involve numerous counties, will have an increased chance of being awarded. The board’s vote to begin the pre-application process does not require immediate funding, and the decision does not commit the county financially at this time. A funding commitment would need to be submitted by October, with the matching funds to be paid by next March.

Ironically enough, the board also heard a presentation from Owosso Township residents Ben and Jamie Smith during the Wednesday meeting concerning a problem they are having with their (septic system) drainage field (for on-site wastewater). The couple recently bought a house in the county and had their drainage field checked by a county contractor prior to purchase. The inspection was not done properly and the couple is now dealing with a failing drainage field that is not even located where their inspector had stated. They asked for the board’s help in the matter, since the county-approved inspector’s faulty work has left them with a problem that will cost upwards of $10,000 to rectify. Board members listened intently and asked numerous questions of the Smiths. They could not commit to a decision without first researching the issue further, but they were definitely concerned and will look into the matter.

County resident Allen Boyer, who also happens to be an engineer with LSG Engineers of Lansing, noted during the Wednesday meeting that problems such as that being experienced by the Smiths could be avoided by implementing the 3D elevation mapping.

“The information that Ron has presented today would be extremely useful to me as an engineer and for the drain offices that we work with,” Boyer said. “I can tell you, with respect to the work we do in Shiawassee County, it is a little old-fashioned with how we have to approach the jobs because we don’t have this information. But as a resident, I can tell you that this information is usable throughout the county on a number of different levels, including at the environmental health level, related to things like drain fields like you just heard about. This tool would be very useful in the planning and inspection of drain fields. As a resident, this is a valuable piece of information and it is well worth the cost.”

Shiawassee Commissioners Consider USGS Grant was last modified: August 24th, 2015 by Karen Elford