OWOSSO — A new rule change will require businesses to unhook their wells and connect to the city’s water system.
However, for now, the amendment to the city’s water ordinance does not affect wells on residential properties.
During a regular meeting Tuesday, Owosso City Council members approved the rule change, requested by City Manager Nathan Henne, but limited it to businesses.
Businesses must connect to city water within 90 days of being notified of the new rule.
Some council members noted that the two businesses within the city that have been identified as using well water were notified of the upcoming possible rule change, but not the owners of two identified residential wells.
Council members said once the residential property owners have been notified, they would consider adding residential wells to the new rule, which requires a connection to the water system if it is available.
“Currently, there are two businesses within the city limits that have access to the city’s water system that are refusing to connect — or connect solely to — the city’s water system,” Henne said in a memo to council. He did not attend Monday’s meeting.
“These businesses are connecting to private wells for drinking water, which poses hazards,” the city manager continued.
Neither officials nor information provided to council identified the two businesses that will be required to connect to the system.
“In addition, there are two known residential properties on Nafus and Frederick (streets) that are currently operating with private wells subject to legal nonconforming status (properties must connect to water if/when they sell).”
Council member Robert Teich questioned whether the city has the right to change the rules with regard to the two residential wells, with which the city has had a verbal agreement allowing the wells.
“They should still be allowed to use their wells,” Teich said. “This doesn’t make sense at all.”
“We should give the residents a chance to be contacted and say something about this,” Mayor Chris Eveleth said, adding he felt more comfortable approving the commercial portion of the rule and considering residential wells later, once more information is gathered.
Henne said in the memo that the city’s sewer ordinance does require properties to connect to the city’s sewer system, while the water ordinance doesn’t mandate hooking up.
However, the water ordinance does allow the city manager to make additional rules and regulations concerning the water system and connections, subject to council approval, Henne noted.
“The main goal of this rule is to make it clear that private wells are not allowed in the city,” he said. “Recent health and safety standards passed by the state and federal governments necessitate that the city be clear about the safety of drinking water within its jurisdiction.”
The new rule does not apply outside of the city limits.
Existing private water wells must be abandoned and taken out of service once a city water distribution system service connection is made, the amended rule states.
Amy Fuller, assistant to the city manager, told council members the city has identified only four private wells within the city limits.